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Handhelds Hardware

Palm Before the PalmPilot 143

Posted by Zonk
from the deep-in-the-mysts-of-the-past dept.
Gammu writes "SiliconUser has an in-depth history of the Palm, starting with its humble roots. The Pilot (later PalmPilot and finally just Palm) saved Palm Computing. Before the release of the Pilot, the company was subsisting (barely) on revenue from connectivity packages for HP PDA's and a version of Graffiti for the Newton. This was because its first PDA hardware product had failed under the weight of feature creep and design by committee. The first article in a series follows the early days of this company-reforming product."
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Palm Before the PalmPilot

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  • I miss Visor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <[Falcon5768] [at] [comcast.net]> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:37PM (#21066671) Journal
    Visor was what Palm should have been (and rightly so since the company was owned by many of the people who hated the committee design of the Pilot. I still think the Visor Edge is the greatest palm based PDA ever made. Its still thinner than my Tungsten E2.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cheater512 (783349)
      I love my Lifedrive.

      Mind you its about double the thickness of a TX but its extremely useful with its built in hard drive.
      Movies and music galore. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by karnal (22275)
        I used my TX daily for about a month until it developed the dreaded screen squeal. It sounds something similar to a TV flyback transformer @ 15khz or so.

        Sent to palm 3 times at my own expense; they claim there's nothing wrong with it.

        In addition, there's a lot of noise coming from the amplifier in the unit - using it with 32 ohm headphones (which most consumer headphones are at) is very very noisy.

        All in all, I really loved the unit; the web browser worked well and it played divx/xvid movies with ease. Bu
        • Re:I miss Visor (Score:4, Informative)

          by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:53PM (#21067129) Homepage
          There are free programs around which also fix it.
          It involves changing the touch screen's refresh frequency.
          Apparently it works well.

          Dont know about the noise from the amplifier. My Lifedrive has great audio.
        • I also had a Visor and loved it.

          I have a T|X that had the screen whine and a terribly miscalibrated touchscreen. Two trips back to tech support and no improvement. Warpspeed and PowerDigi that fixed both problems. Between having to pay someone else extra to make it work the way it should out of the box and the general flimsiness of the hardware (have to really mash the hardware buttons to get them to register) I'm pretty sure this will be my last Palm device.

          The only reason I haven't replaced it with an

          • Assuming they learn some lessons from these iTouch and iPhones, perhaps they'll come out with something less closed off as Apples offerings are.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by karnal (22275)
            Oh yea, speaking of hard-to-push buttons, my TX eventually got to the point that the power button no longer worked. At first it was just getting to where I had to push it harder, but finally it stopped working.

            See this note regarding Palm and the screen noise:

            http://kb.palm.com/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBCGI.EXE?New,kb=PalmSupportKB,CASE=obj(31651),ts=Palm_External2001 [palm.com]

            So they know about it, claim it's a non-issue and won't fix for free. Or for any amount of money.

            Defective from the manufacturer.

            I have tinnitus in my
            • by pqdave (470411)
              My Palm had the same power button issue. I removed the screws from the back with a small jeweler's screwdriver (worked despite them being torx) pried the case open a tiny bit, blew some canned air into the slot, and wiggled the button around. Vast improvement upon reassembly.
    • Re:I miss Visor (Score:4, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:38PM (#21067067)
      Palm did have the Palm V. That was perhaps the high point of my PDA experience. Today I have a $500 HP iPaq with Microsoft software which is incredibly sluggish, crashes constantly, and is about twice as thick and heavy as my Palm V. However that is all my company allows me to use, because it does have a fingerprint reader and encryption. Nevermind if it locks up 30% of the time you try to turn it on with those features enabled.

      To be fair, the iPaq 1945 series with an earlier version of Windows Mobile was much, much better. I believe today nobody at Microsoft or HP actually uses PocketPCs. Everything has gone over to cellphones, leaving those of us who still need a non-phone PDA for whatever reason (generally, security policies) almost high and dry. I guess they have to follow the market, but I wish they would at least not advertise and ship stuff that doesn't work.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bearfx (697655)
        Does yours randomly reset itself, losing all data, to? I like the idea of Windows CE (or whatever it is called these days), but I have yet to have a CE device that works well. Crashes, Freezes, Resets...Windows CE, they name is CRAP. Their is some very useful and cool software available, but if a device cannot perform its core functions well, then it is a failure... I to have a 500$ HP IPaq that is a failure. My Palm V never crashed, never locked, never reset itself, never lost data... it just worked, a
        • I have never seen it lose data, but I don't store anything in it.
          Starting with Windows Mobile 5, Microsoft finally wizened up and fixed the data loss problem. Now everything is handled more like a PC: data and applications are on flash memory, and RAM is just RAM (and not a place to store things). You'd have to work at it to lose data now.
        • by Kazymyr (190114)
          Some PocketPC devices are built and work better than others... I have experienced crashes/freezes with various devices (Ipaq 1940, 4150 etc) however I eventuallty found one that works well - the Ipaq 2215. I'm on my second one (first one was run over by a car - don't ask) and I'm equally satisfied. It seems to be a class above all other PPC/WM devices. No crashes or freezes, battery life is actually long enough, can adjust screen brightness very finely etc.
      • To be fair, the iPaq 1945 series with an earlier version of Windows Mobile was much, much better. I believe today nobody at Microsoft or HP actually uses PocketPCs. Everything has gone over to cellphones, leaving those of us who still need a non-phone PDA for whatever reason (generally, security policies) almost high and dry. I guess they have to follow the market, but I wish they would at least not advertise and ship stuff that doesn't work.

        The iPaq 1945 used the PocketPC 2003 OS / Windows Mobile 2003 OS.

        • Interesting design decision. The Psion Series 3 I owned a decade or so ago stored everything in RAM. In the entire lifespan of the device, I only did a full reboot (they called it a hard reset) twice. When the batteries went flat, there was a secondary battery that protected the contents of RAM. The entire OS and application stack was written in 8086 assembly (code size was important on a device with 256KB of RAM which was also used for data storage and ran a spreadsheet, word processor, address book, a
          • Ah yes, I remember them well. I had a Siena, then a Series 3, then a Series 5. My dad had one of those old Psion Organisers. Them were the days!
      • by hey! (33014)
        The m500 series was pretty good, although for a PDA I prefer having the option of installable batteries. I felt the change in connectors was a bit gratuitous.

        But getting back to the Palm V, the reason things aren't as good as in the good old days is because of margins. If you sold a $300 PDA and made a 5% margin, you made $15. Maybe the same PDA today at the same margin, who knows what it would cost -- maybe $40, and you'd pocket $2? I believe the low end Zires are deliberately priced higher than the
        • by timeOday (582209)
          That's an interesting angle. It might be nice if there were a resurgence of the PDA from the likes of Sharp and Casio selling something for $60. In fact I had recently been considering something like that in a wristwatch [amazon.com]. It does have Outlook connectivity, which is a hard requirement for me. I'm afraid it's too big for a wristwatch and too small for a PDA, but I haven't seen one in person so who knows.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Viso Pro. Owned 3 of them. OK, so no color, no multimedia, no phone. So what? Runs for 2 weeks off a pair of AAA batteries, and if they run down, any convenience store adds another fortnight - no need for funny chargers or other tie-me-downs. Carried my contacts, appointment alarms, to-do-lists, memos, general notes on life (e.g. bus schedules &co.), universal IR remote control, shopping list, and a couple of e-books for when I had to wait for doctors or mechanics.

      Downsides: Fragile LCD (broke 1) and cr
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      I like how your sig relates to your post.
    • Agreed. I actually just gave my wife my Visor Edge so that we can work out our scheduling, to-do lists, etc. I don't know why they didn't make more Visors(or PDAs in general) with metal cases/covers like the Edge.
    • Re:I miss Visor (Score:5, Informative)

      by thethibs (882667) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:23PM (#21067313) Homepage

      Indeed. To my mind, the Tungsten is a giant step backward. It's particularly stupid that Graffiti is what made the pilot in the first place but in the Tungsten they put Graffiti 2, which is slow, unreliable and hyper-sensitive to small timing variations. I really hope they fired the idiot who thought that was a good idea.

      With the Visor and Graffiti, I could take notes continuously without looking at the screen (great for meetings). With the Tungsten and Graffiti 2, I have to keep checking that it read what I wrote or that it hasn't interpreted an "i" as "l." or vice versa. I've never figured out how to get it to consistently read an "r" or an "h". The original Graffiti was fast and sure. Graffiti 2 is so bad that I'll probably be looking for something with one of those moronic little keyboards as my next PDA. I know that is really slumming in technological backwaters, but I don't see much choice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by a_nonamiss (743253)

        in the Tungsten they put Graffiti 2
        IIRC, that wasn't Palm's decision. It was the result of a lawsuit (Xerox maybe?) and they were forced to change Graffiti "just enough" so that it wasn't interfering on IP rights. About 30 seconds of Googling could clear this up more definitely, but my I am out of brain for the day...
        • by lintux (125434)
          Ah yeah, from the Graffiti 2 Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org]:

          "The primary reason for the change was the fact that in April 1997 Xerox had sued PalmSource, Inc. over its use of Graffiti. After a legal fight lasting a number of years, and despite the dismissal of the case by a federal judge, Xerox won a reversal late in 2001 in the U.S. Court of Appeals."

          However, Googling for "graffiti 2 xerox" also gives you this El Reg article [theregister.co.uk] where it looks like Xerox didn't really own Graffiti 1 at all...

          Interesting to know this. I (and m
        • by kisrael (134664)
          the terrible thing about that is how lame Unistrokes are...
          look at the image 1/3 of the way down http://www.cs.uta.fi/~scott/text/Unistroke.html [cs.uta.fi] --
          the cool thing about Graffiti is that most every stroke has some physical similarity to the letter it represents.

          I don't know the details but it feels like an abuse of the patent system to me.
      • Agreed. Graffiti 1 was good, I can tell Graffiti 2 would annoy me immensely just by looking at the glyph chart.

        I still have my old Palm III, upgraded to PalmOS 4, for this very reason. Although I have been quite impressed by the Fitaly keyboard, which is freeware for Palm devices. Since you can get it for other devices, it might be a good input device to learn.

        Fitaly Keyboard for Palm [fitaly.com]
      • by scottme (584888)
        New model Palm devices have Graffiti 2 in ROM. If you install the original Graffiti modules, from an older model Palm, into RAM, the device uses them instead, so you *can* use original Graffiti on a new Palm.

        Google around for a how-to guide.
        • This is a very important thing, that keeps me sane. I have used Graffiti since it was a Newton program. Even though the Newton OS v2.0 had really great handwriting recognition (no joke!), Graffiti has always been much faster. I can remember taking notes using Graffiti on a Newton MessagePad 100 that I bought on clearance for $150.00 when I was in High School. It has lower CPU utilization, faster input, accurate punctuation, bullets and accented characters, and less strain on the hands -- what's not to l

          • by Steve001 (955086)

            Jasin Natael wrote:

            This is a very important thing, that keeps me sane. I have used Graffiti since it was a Newton program. Even though the Newton OS v2.0 had really great handwriting recognition (no joke!), Graffiti has always been much faster. I can remember taking notes using Graffiti on a Newton MessagePad 100 that I bought on clearance for $150.00 when I was in High School. It has lower CPU utilization, faster input, accurate punctuation, bullets and accented characters, and less strain on the hands -

            • by thethibs (882667)

              I just bought Tealscript. I hope you're right.

            • Am I allowed a "YEE HAW!"?

              I installed Tealscript on my Tungsten E2 and, after fiddling with the options for a few minutes, I had Graffiti working the way it should. I have my old Pilot back!

              Many thanks to Steve for the tip.

  • Next PC a casio? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:45PM (#21066737) Journal

    According to David Pogue, in his book Piloting Palm, Casio was a particularly difficult partner to work with. Their relative inexperience with software and hardware development (the company's major portable products were digital wristwatches, calculators and inexpensive pocket organizers) made them irrationally intolerant of any bugs, no matter how minor or how unlikely to affect the user.

    Can you imagine what IT would be like if Casio had created the PC? Why, it might actually work.

    Amazing that IT has managed to train us so well to the existence of bugs in final products that we laugh at a company that seems to think bugs are unacceptable.

    Truly amazing how we come to accept that the software we use is not functioning correctly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I see your point although anyone waiting for a version with absolutely no bugs is going to be waiting for a very very long time. In the case of PCs, never. There will always be bugs, a company that spends 10 years straight ironing out the kinks is going to be many years behind and out of luck by the time they release.
      • I've heard it said before that there have been zero hardware bugs ever found in the original design for the Apple II. Of course, now that I've mentioned that, I'm sure you'll all give me a laundry list of Apple II bugs (note, the original Apple II, not the IIc, IIe, IIgs, etc)
        • There was a hardware bug involving the keyboard of the II which was tracked down and corrected shortly before the II was introduced at the Faire. It might have been the result of a bug in the "original design" as opposed to, say, manufacturing error, but I don't know. Perhaps someone would like to ask Woz about it? I did notice that you avoided mention of software bugs, of which there were a few.
    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:28PM (#21067349)

      Amazing that IT has managed to train us so well to the existence of bugs in final products that we laugh at a company that seems to think bugs are unacceptable.

      Truly amazing how we come to accept that the software we use is not functioning correctly

      Which is why, in my next life, I will write code instead of designing hardware. I'd be fired if I delivered a product that required regular updates, yet the software that goes on my hardware has an update plan at delivery.
      • by NateTech (50881)
        Amen, bro. Software "engineers", aren't.

        Until they can deliver without a plan for anything other than feature updates (imagine a world where it would be difficult to release a patch because no one had needed to release one in a very long time), most are just code monkeys. And the ones that deserve the "engineer" title because their code always works, are rarely, if ever, commended for it.

        Software engineering management culture is broken. Find a way to motivate people to not release bugs, and bugs will d
    • Can you imagine what IT would be like if Casio had created the PC? Why, it might actually work.

      I can, it would either be a wrist watch, or one of their incarnations of a PDA. I owned a Casio PDA, it ran Windows CE, and it worked pretty well, but obviously Casio changed their tune as they dove into more complex markets. I think the article is right in noting that to make something as complex as a "computer" is going to allow for a set of bugs to exist, or to spend inordinate amounts of money making sure the entire project is perfect. It's possible, look at the Space program, but its not cheap. Yo

    • by lindseyp (988332)
      I had a Japanese model casio 'organiser' way back in 1993.

      The damned thing is to this day the most reliable and *sensible function* packed device I ever owned. One quick example... the ability to update "holidays" so that repeating appointments could be moved to the following day if they fell on a holiday, and not just on a weekend.

      It's a shame it was ahead of it's time. I'm not aware of any English-language version of this thing, and my Japanese was barely good enough to use it back then.
    • It would be the mainframe industry.
  • Great thingies (Score:4, Interesting)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @05:55PM (#21066803)
    I still own and actively use a Palm Pilot from 1996. No color screen, no wireless communication, no nothing. Works like a charm even today and I don't need more. Of course you CAN remove and change the battery yourself, which cannot be said of some other iGadgets.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by freedomlinux (1072142)
      Wow... /. must be reading my mind.
      This afternoon I disassembled, resurrected, and reassembled my Palm IIIc with no problems at all, after it sat in a drawer for three years.
      Excellent design that the product can be opened and closed, including battery replacement, with no problem at all and using standard screws. Glad to have my IIIc back, and must admit that I should have never dropped in 2meters onto concrete.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bigjarom (950328)
      I own and use three Palms, a Palm III from 1998, a Palm T|T3 from 2003, and a Palm Treo 755p from 2007. The Palm III is by far the most stable of the three. The batteries (2xAAA) last for about a month without use of the backlight. It has crashed maybe 5 times in more than 8 years I've had it. There are still thousands of very useful apps that run great on it. I upped the built-in RAM from 2MB to 8MB+2MB flash in 2000. The T|T3 is and probably always will be the pinnacle of Palm's product design. The OS i
      • The T|T3 is and probably always will be the pinnacle of Palm's product design. [...] I wish I'd bought two.

        Why don't you? Just because they're "obsolete" does not make them obsolete, or impossible to get hold of. May I direct your attention to http://tinyurl.com/2nzewo [tinyurl.com]
        That's what I did. Then I sent them both to Chris Short, and now I have peace of mind knowing that my 'plastic brains' are trustworthy.

        Palm needs to either focus heavily on the user experience like they did a decade ago, or get out of the business before their legacy becomes one of eye rolling and snickering.

        Oh, you mean like what happened to Psion? That was so sad. I mean, their devices (5mx, Revo) were better than ewen T3's.

    • I still own and actively use a Palm Pilot from 1996.

      Yep, just dug out my Palm Pilot 1000/8M Superpilot and chucked a couple of new AAAs in it. It still works fine, in spite of a full length crack in the case. It's impressive how well it works compared to modern PDAs - just the necessities, fast, stable.

      Wish I could have said the same of my WinCE machines, though the Symbian smartphone (Sony Ericsson M600i) I have now seems stable enough, if a little sluggish.

    • The Treo line have user-replaceable batteries; you don't even need to remove a screw, the cover just slides off. I've been pretty pleased with my Treo 650. I started with a IIIxe, moved to a Handera [wikipedia.org] 330 [the-gadgeteer.com] (CF and SD slots...), and finally got the 650. It works very well, and because it's my phone, my wife can't complain that I take my PDA everywhere. It's not quite as stable as I'd like, but I haven't lost any information and I can do all kinds of things that even the Handera couldn't do - like voice navigati
  • by maryjanecapri (597594) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:12PM (#21066903) Homepage Journal
    they are going to die a slow painful death. they have a chance to re-invent themselves by bringing the Linux-based OS out (as they've been promising). until then we palm users are all faced with using a very out-of-date OS (with sketchy blue tooth on treos i might add) and no hope for any much-needed updates.

    in the meantime the iphone is looking to totally overtake that market (if they start working on bringing out third-party apps). if palm allows apple to start releasing third-party apps palm may as well throw in the towel.

    i would like to keep using my palm-based treo. but i am getting so tired of the crashes and horrific blue tooth that it's getting to the point where i might just jump that shark and go the iphone route.

    well - i will when a linux app like jpilot can sync with the iphone. if that never happens i'll wait for the open moko. if that doesn't happen i'll just scrap the pda and get a regular ol' phone.
    • in the meantime the iphone is looking to totally overtake that market (if they start working on bringing out third-party apps). if palm allows apple to start releasing third-party apps palm may as well throw in the towel.

      The iPhone/iPod Touch SDK is being released in 3-4 months.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MMC Monster (602931)
      Palm doesn't have a choice in the matter anymore. Once Apple releases a reasonable SDK, it's game over for the entire handheld computer market.

      It's unfortunate. I've owned at least 4 Palm-based handheld, and they've all been incredibly useful. A little fragile (hence my owning so many of them), but I also paid more for each one than the iTouch, anyway.
      • by Quarters (18322) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @08:10PM (#21067597)
        A third party SDK for the iPhone won't be "game over for the entire handheld computer market". For corporations that issue portable computing devices to their employees no IT department in their right mind is going to make a wholesale switch from Windows Mobile based smart phones and PDAs that run on the corporate voice/data network of choice to iPhones with the only choice of voice/data service being AT&T and a necessary reliance on hobbiest software to supply necessary applications.

        It might mean a sharp downturn in the number of non Apple PDAs purchased for personal use. That's a far cry different than the wholesale revolution you are claiming it will be, though.

        • by rbanffy (584143)
          "For corporations that issue portable computing devices to their employees no IT department in their right mind is going to make a wholesale switch from Windows Mobile based smart phones and PDAs that run on the corporate voice/data network of choice to iPhones"

          That's why Windows wins. Inertia trumps competence. Nobody who already made an investment on Windows Mobile software will be able to run its business on anything else, iPhone, Palm or Linux, and will either have to pay to port the software or enjoy l
        • by GarfBond (565331)
          Who says that all the software produced for the iPhone under an SDK has to be hobbyist? Nothing stopping any other B2B software provider from putting out an iPhone client.

          This quote is particularly telling I think:

          Adding salt to Palm's wounds, Apple proclaimed last week it sold a million iPhones in its first 74 days in the smart phone market. Palm has yet to sell that many Treos in a quarter.

          http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/gear/2007-09-21-palm-future_N.htm [usatoday.com]

          • by Quarters (18322)
            Just because Palm can't sell 7 figures worth of Treo's in 3 months doesn't mean that there aren't that many Windows Mobile devices being sold. The number of units sold is only a good barometer for market penetration when you can only get the device from one manufacturer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Planesdragon (210349)

        Once Apple releases a reasonable SDK, it's game over for the entire handheld computer market.

        If all Apple does is release an SDK, they're going to wind up giving Palm the biggest PR coup ever.

        The iPhone/iPod lacks basic features that are standard in Palm -- copy & paste, an IR-device port, bluetooth, expandable memory, integrated search, being able to schedule a calendar event, etc.

        If Palm suddenly knows what they're doing, they'll launch a new Linux-based Palm OS PDA within 3 months of the iPhone SDK, and aim their PR campaign as "don't hack your iPhone -- buy the device that does what you wa

        • by lmpeters (892805)

          The iPhone DOES have Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it currently only works with headsets. Hopefully the SDK will change that.

        • The iPhone/iPod lacks basic features that are standard in Palm -- copy & paste

          The Apple Newton had the nicest implementation of this for a pen-based device I've seen (I was particularly irritated after inventing it independently to discover that they thought of it over a decade earlier). You simply drag things to the edge of the screen, where they stay until you switch app and drag them back. I wouldn't be surprised if someone at Apple remembers this and reimplements it for the iPhone.

        • by RMH101 (636144)
          Yes, because we all know Palm are great at keeping ahead of the curve and regularly release innovative hardware that adds extra functionality to their older product lines. They don't, for example, keep trotting out the same tired hardware in a new case and refuse to add features people might actually want, like memory protection and wifi..
          • 1: I know Palm is ran by a bunch of Q#$s. Consider that a testament to how well they did it -- Apple and MS, working with actual programmers, still haven't matched Palm.

            2:

            They don't, for example, keep trotting out the same tired hardware in a new case and refuse to add features people might actually want, like memory protection and wifi.

            I'm too lazy to look, but the only palms without "memory protection" might be the bargain-basement ones. The PDAs have WiFi, and the Phones don't, because Palm doesn't have the corporate weight to make it worthwhile to include and convince teh carriers not to disable it.

      • by DeadChobi (740395)
        Except that it's a huge pain in the ass to take notes on a keyboard where you can't insert basic punctuation and can't feel the keys. I'm sure someone will release a 3rd party application to fix the lack of tactile response in the home row. Oh, wait, the entire screen is flat. Do they at least have a stylus and decent handwriting recognition software for the iPhone that doesn't require me to hack it and risk bricking it?
        • You should try one.

          I have not had any problem taking notes, writing emails, entering URLS, and even entering punctuation.

          I much prefer this to any other phone keyboard I've used.

          SteveM

      • by dfghjk (711126)
        You are assuming terms for Apple releasing this SDK. All they've said is that they'll be doing one. They haven't said who they'll make it available to and what will be required for developers to actually deliver apps using it. It may remain the case that 3rd parties will have to go through Apple for approval and distribution. In that case, it won't be 3rd party at all and it certainly won't be "game over".

        Frankly, there's large portions of the smartphone market that won't be satisfied with the iPhone re
    • by SteveM (11242) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:31PM (#21067363)

      if palm allows apple to start releasing third-party apps ...

      And what exactly can Palm do to prevent this?

      Palm has been dead for awhile. All that's left is for someone to unplug the life support system.

      SteveM

      • Are you kidding? Maybe its just here in NY, but the Treo is one of the more popular phones around. Nowhere near the Razor, but I have seen 10x as many Treos as I have iPhones.

        That being said, I have a Treo 650, and am sorely disappointed with it. I thought it would be awesome to have expandable memory to play MP3's from... until I realized it has one of those mini jacks, for which you have to pay an extra $12 to get an adapter to use with your normal set of headphones (which falls out easily, and is even mo
        • Are you kidding?

          I think your post pretty much confirms it.

          Crappy hardware, crappy software, ...

          Who's kidding who?

          SteveM

    • I really wish Palm would get their head out of their asses, and stop being careful. I finally jumped from my Treeo 650 to a Nokia N95 when it came out because they don't seem to care anymore about improving their phones in meaningful ways. Price doesn't matter so much, just improve the damn phone lines.
    • by znu (31198)
      Palm bought BeOS in 2001. They could have turned around and shipped a slimmed down version of that (and it was already pretty slim), and had the most advanced mobile operating system on the market at the time. Instead, they've made minor improvements to an archaic OS (crippled by being initially designed for extremely limited hardware) for far too long. In many respects they're in the same position Apple was in in the mid-90s, except there's no NeXTSTEP for them to buy, and there's no Steve Jobs to come bac
      • Palm bought BeOS in 2001. They could have turned around and shipped a slimmed down version of that (and it was already pretty slim), and had the most advanced mobile operating system on the market at the time. Instead, they've made minor improvements to an archaic OS (crippled by being initially designed for extremely limited hardware) for far too long. In many respects they're in the same position Apple was in in the mid-90s, except there's no NeXTSTEP for them to buy, and there's no Steve Jobs to come bac

        • by RMH101 (636144)
          "they've been putting out four smartphones per year for the last two years"

          Come on. I'm a Palm fan, but they've not exactly been innovating in that time. Treo 650 added bluetooth and a better screen to the 600. Treo 680 removed the aerial and added a little memory. They got HTC to put out some WinMo phones based on the Treo hardware: god knows why as there's a load of more capable WinMo phones on the market, most of which are also made by HTC.
          They've just brought out the Centro, which is, well, a 680

          • The Treo 650 also improved the camera, keyboard, added dedicated send and hang up buttons, and it modified the memory architecture so that its information is not erased when the battery runs dry. The Treo 680 didn't add a little memory, it more than doubled it from about 24MB to about 64MB while cutting the price by about $200. It also added a revamped phone application which is arguably slicker than the older phone application (which still runs on CDMA Treos). Note that none of these features are what you'
            • by RMH101 (636144)
              I take your point, and as I said, I'm a Palm fan - but to take one example: the development resource that went into the Foleo. Spend that on a new OS (we're going to be based on ALPS now, right? I'm losing track of all the byzantine changes they had at Palm) and a manufacturing contract for a slightly thinner Treo with Wifi for HTC and you'd have had a winner.

              As it is, WinMo's got entrenched, Nokia's got the alternative and Mac market, and Apple's got the sexy new multitouch. Palm seems stuck in a bit o

              • ALPS is being developed by PalmSource which is now owned by Access, a Japanese mobile software company. Palm has bought back the Palm name and a perpetual license for PalmOS 5.x (AKA Garnet). Palm's new OS will be Linux-based, just like ALPS but it will not be based on ALPS. (Palm and PalmSource's relationship has soured a bit since they split and Access's buyout of PalmSource appears to have killed it for good.) The Foleo's OS was also Linux-based btw.

                As for the resources that were "wasted" on the Foleo, P
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      they are going to die a slow painful death.

      What, again ?
      Hasn't this happened once (at least) already ?
      Palm should just die, pull the electrodes out of the corpse and let it rest.

      I have a Pilot 500 upgraded to Palm Pro (with the US Robotics brand even), a IIIx and a T|X and I'm considering just dropping the platform. I'm sick of them changing stuff in between models so that some will sync and some not, of their weird OS, etc.

      It started the right way with a clean interface. Something went very wrong along the way...

  • by jbarr (2233) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @06:46PM (#21067103) Homepage
    I still think the Palm V (and Vx) series was Palm's greatest achievement. Combined with its hard case, they had a true, front-pocketable PDA that performed well. Unfortunately, Palm PDAs have become so bloated and energy-graining that they simply aren't innovative anymore. I REALLY liked measuring battery life in weeks, not hours. And the Zoomer was a killer device at the time. It was PC-compatible that would run DOS apps, had full GUI interface thanks to Geoworks' GEOS, and it had a great implementation of an early version of Graffiti that, at the time, provided real "heads-up" stylus entry (where you could actually look at the person you were talking to while still taking notes. And what was important was that because the Zoomer and early Pilots promoted Graffiti as an input/navigation method, not handwriting recognition, it took of very effectively. The big difference with other HWR implementations was that with Graffiti, the user had to adapt their strokes to what Graffiti expected instead of the HWR engine adapting to the individual user. If you got past all that and just wrote how Graffiti wanted, it was surprisingly fast and accurate. Unfortunately, the Zoomer was overshadowed by the Apple Newton, so it never really grabbed any market share. Fortunately for Palm, (US Robotics at the time) its launch of the Pilot was successful beyond expectations, and the rest was history.
    • I completely agree re: the Palm V. I got one when it was first released and it felt absolutely perfect at the time. It and the iPod Nano are my only two gadgets of the last decade that I actually loved carrying around.

      And speaking of the Newton, I certainly hope that Apple's iPhone SDK lives up to the hype. An iPhone with full PDA capabilities (and yes, someone's already made a stylus for it) might just be my third.
  • As seen in Die Hard 4, this devices can be plugged in high tech suitcases and process in parallel to crack passwords and that kind of stuff.
  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:27PM (#21067341) Homepage
    I bought one of the first palms, and remember disassembling the ROM, and looking through it. It was lean, elegant, and straight forward enough that one could do that. Try that with Windows Mobile, or probably even the newer palms (oh wait, they are windows mobile now, aren't they?)

    Now, I do appreciate the greater flexibility of Windows mobile devices, and prefer it over the palm, but the speed, elegance, battery life, and so on, just aren't there. Too bad we can't have the best of both of these worlds...
    • If you have an HTC windows mobile device, check out xda developers. They have tools so that you can either download or build your own custom windows mobile ROMS.
  • Awful Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by captainboogerhead (228216) on Sunday October 21, 2007 @07:29PM (#21067351) Journal

    Man, for once I read TFA and what do I get? A barely coherent, unedited swamp of words. Did anyone else find this article a slog to read?

    Palm's buyer (and a secure feature for the Touchdown) was secured in a surprising way. During product development, Donna, Jeff and Ed were traveling the country promoting the Touchdown as the platform of choice for hardware and sofware developers.

    It's never explained what Touchdown is. It's never explained what the "secure feature" is. I'm assuming Touchdown is the orginal name for what was to become the Pilot. But I don't really know. The word is just used suddenlty out without preamble, as if it had been previously introduced.

    How about the following:

    A simple benchmark of the efficiency or inefficiency of was to count the number of taps to create an appointment or add an entry to the adress book. This required that all of the most used features be easily accessible, not buried behind menus or in dialog boxes. This concept of ease of use had eluded many of the early PDA's.

    Perhaps it's just me, but the whole article read like the above excerpt.

    Another reviewer, in Macworld, found that his 'typing' speed on the Newton was "up to 20 words per minute at 0 to 95 percent accuracy."

    Really? Zero to 95% accuracy? That's pretty, uh, fucking awful. Somehow I doubt that's what Macword published.

    It took ten to fifteen seconds to boot up and to switch between applications, seriosuly hampering its usefulness as a serious business tool.

    Wow, spelling mistake and redundancy in the same sentence.

    A paper planner was much smaller and allowed the user to see his or her entire day. Little quirks like this also turned off business users.

    See how the second sentence here should not follow the first? It should have followed the sentence preceeded the excerpt. This kind of construction left me rereading the same few lines several times over.

    A few major candidates were considered (Motorola, Compaq and Nokia), but none of the comapnies were willing to give Palm control...

    Guess that woulda bin bad fer bidness.

    Hey Silicon User, hire a fucking editor!

  • It's in the Hardware section of Slashdot. It's right there in the address: hardware.slashdot.org. Why would you tag it hardware?
    • Slashcode itself inserts tags for all the categories that a story is filled in before it goes live. I presume this is so they can merge the tag search and category search sometime in the future.
  • I owned a Palm Pilot 1000 (I think, the one with extra memory) that promptly became one of the first to be repaired. Broken screen. They did not survive a 3-foot drop onto tile.

    I wore it out. It worked, and Grafitti was just wonderful.

    Then I got a Palm III. And a modem. Having HandMail was a blessing. I was much more self-sufficient.

    Finally, I got a Vx to replace my tired III... Sleek and wonderful, another modem of course, slick apps, and yes shirtpocket capable.

    But I always had a Day-Timer, and used
  • I can't even tell you what operating system the most recent Palm's run. There must have been half a dozen attempts to modernize the platform...

    I used my Handspring Deluxe for 6 years, it was good for it's time, and the interface is still pretty good, but it just doesn't have the features I want in a PDA today. When it came time to find a replacement, I didn't even consider Palm. I didn't have confidence that I'd be able to find modern apps to run on a new Palm device.
  • In the old days, when I had a HP 100LX PDA, I once beta tested a synchronization tool for a company named Palm. I always wondered if they went on to produce the palmpilots (which were known for their excellent synching).

    I owned a Palm V briefly, but I never could get used to the stylus text input, so I went with the Nokia Communicator line. I now have a Nokia E90.

    X.
  • For normal PIM the Palm desktop software is pretty good. It also used to race on slower PCs. It is still free for download:

    http://www.palm.com/us/support/downloads/windesk414.html [palm.com]

    And, if you feel like it you can get a cheap Pilot off of Ebay and sync it so you can carry all the data that you entered into your PIM with you at any time. Or even sometimes try and enter data on the road (I am kidding).
  • I have been a loyal customer of Palm since they released their Palm III under U.S. Robotics. The one favorite feature that I think is still overlooked by many of today's PDA competitors (including Palm themselves) is the utter simplicity of it. All of the programs were dead simple to use. You entered your agenda in the Calendar. You synced and checked your e-mail. It had a (relatively) powerful calculator. It came with the bare essentials, and that's it.

    I think it was these concepts that made the Treo 65

    • by Zelos (1050172)
      The one thing I miss from the Treo is the way it displayed text messages as threaded conversations, a feature that the iPhone has borrowed I think.
  • ...or at the very least, never used any Newton past first gen.

    I still use my Newton 2100 daily. The screen real estate is large enough to actually work with, I can use the English alphabet (instead of, for instance, an inverted V when I mean A), and ooooo! I can do "inking" just like the article attributes to exclusively to PalmPrint. WTF?

    The article states, "Even after complaints about the complexity of Newton Intelligence, Apple added more features with the 2.0 release of the software which did little t
  • by kisrael (134664)
    before I accidentally (I swear) drowned and decided to hop on the iPhone bandwagon, the Z22 was a very great machine... cheap cheerful and effective., even at the lower screen rez I liked it better than the higher end Sony Clie it replaced, in part because of the great feel form factor (too often in hardware, Palm designers aimed for slim without sacrificing screen width, leading to uncomfortably "sharp" devices.

    But enjoying my iPhone - despite the current lack of TODOs, and my bad feelings about Outlook me

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