Sticking with Palm

July 27, 2008

Palm Tungsten T3I've been using Palm PDAs since the days of U.S. Robotics' Palm Pilot Pro model. I got the most life out of my excellent but venerable Palm Tungsten T3, which lasted a little over four years. It's still working well, especially after I replaced the battery a while back, but I was not using it much. The problem was that I got tired of carrying both a cell phone and a PDA. The cell phone is essential; even after nine years, the PDA became optional.

Palm CentroYup, that's right, I bought a Smartphone a couple of days ago. And I decided to stick with Palm by buying a Centro. I think even if I had an opportunity to buy an iPhone, which I don't because I'm with Verizon, I still would have opted for the Centro. After ten years of using Palm, I have an investment in software that I can't walk away from just yet.

Here's the interesting part. If I had replaced my T3 with a contemporary PDA like the Palm T|X, it would have cost $300. The Centro was a mere $50 after Verizon rebates. In effect, it's a phone with a PDA thrown in for free.

The switch has not been without difficulty. One of the huge strengths of the Palm has been the brainless, perfect transition between models. When my Palm V died, I simply brought home the T3, did a minor amount of setup, and pressed the HotSync button. A few minutes later I was ready to go. Such was not the case with the Centro. The fully automatic transition resulted in a blue screen of death, the first one I've ever seen on my current laptop. After Palm helped me clean up that mess (Palm's support was first-rate), I started building the Centro manually until I ran in to the apparent culprit. Hopefully I'll be able to work all this out.

I thought the biggest change would be moving from the T3's beautiful 3.75", 320x480 display to the 2.25", 320x320 display of the Centro. So far, the smaller screen is working out well and is not going to be a problem. It's better than the display on my previous, ordinary cell phone. Instead, the big problem is the transition from Graffiti to a keyboard, especially one with such tiny keys. The good news is that I use the Palm mostly for reference - my address book, some documents, a few lists and databases - and do very little data entry on the device. I'm not a "texter" and I don't use the phone for email.

There is one very bad feature of the Centro. The stylus is flimsy to the point that it can't be easily used. I've already ordered replacements with a metal shaft. I'm not sure what Palm was thinking.  The supplied stylus is a horrible mistake.

One of these days I will probably switch to a Windows-based device, perhaps something like the new Treo 800w. Maybe I'll succumb to iPhone fever. But before I do, I'll have to find competent replacements for the many excellent Palm OS programs I've collected over the years. That will be a challenge.

Tags: Cell Phone, Palm