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Old 05-19-2005, 12:00 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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A PDA Purchasing Quandry Is Upon Me

Well, it's only a few more days till Sunday morning, when I fly to San Jose for the PalmSource Developer's Conference. I can't remember the last time I was so excited about attending any conference or event. And as you may have seen noted on various Palm-related web sites, there will be an opportunity for conference attendees to purchase Palm devices at a discount of up to 40%. While quantities are limited, it's likely to be an opportunity for me to get a Palm device once more. I bet they have a few LifeDrives in stock also!

So with this decision point fast arriving, it puts me in quite a quandry. What to do? I'd like to upgrade my under-$200 Toshiba e405 PPC, primarily to get a better screen. But I'm reasonably happy with the device. It's well-designed, solidly built, small, zippy, has long battery life, holds plenty with external SD cards, etc. I'd like HiRes+ or VGA, but I can wait if I need to. And, additionally, if I stick with my Toshiba, I already have all the accessories and software also.

But if I do upgrade to a "luxurious" screen resolution, what are my basic options?

As far as VGA PPCs, I'm not convinced that VGA is well-enough integrated into PPC software to make my happy. Plus WinMobile5 didn't impress me as much as I expected it to. I don't know that I like the soft key concept and the focus on integrating it with the smartphone OS. Next generation models may take a while to come onto the market anyway.

With regard to the LifeDrive, it's a little heavy, and there are reports of limited battery life, and sluggishness or hesistation due to hard drive spinup. Those issues are a concern, both for general usage and for media playback. But, hey, it still looks really nice, and the "just right" PDA model doesn't exist anywhere yet. I'm frequently drooling over all the LifeDrive pictures and spec sheets, because it's got a lot to offer. Even the smaller touches are nice, like the mic. And how about that hardware button for instant landscape/portrait switching? Not to mention that awesome optional metal case? Doesn't seem to add any bulk and makes it like a flip cover top. Very nice.

Which brings up the following quick aside... Why doesn't PalmOne use a flip cover in the first place, like my wonderful old Sony Clie SJ33 did?! Or at least supply us with one of those fitted plastic sleeves like what evolved in the calculator world, which can be slid onto the device as a cover, or slid onto the device upside down to leave the top open. It can easily be removed completely if not wanted.

And, finally, there's the T5. It's no slouch itself, despite rumors of instability, so it makes another nice alternative with a great screen. No integrated WiFi, but I don't absolutely have to have either 4gig or WiFi. It's a bit cheaper than the LifeDrive, probably has better battery life, and I suspect that most of the reported bugginess may be manageable with the right choice of software kept to the most up-to-date versions.

What to do? What to do?... Your suggestions and thoughts, please!
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Old 05-19-2005, 12:49 PM   #2
Reggie
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Bob,you might want to scout for a Clie TH55 over at Ebay. Try looking for the European version since it has both WiFi and Bluetooth. It has a flip, transparent cover, a jog dial, voice recorder, and camera. It probably has the best battery life among PDAs.

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Old 05-19-2005, 12:52 PM   #3
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Yeah, but deciding for Ebay over a 40% deal? I don't know. I think I would go for a PalmOne T5. Beautiful screen and a lot easier to carry than the LD it seems to me.
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:11 PM   #4
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I certainly wouldn't buy the LD (but remember this is coming from someone who is not interested in video on a handheld). The reviews are unencouraging: the large size (I have a T3), the battery-draining hard drive which also produces 5-6 second pauses on application launches, and the non-replaceable battery, a real downer when you consider the power needed to run this thing. I would certainly consider purchasing another T3 or even a T5. Philippe Radley
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:17 PM   #5
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If the discount is really 40%, get a LD, try it out and sell it on ebay if you don't like it then buy whatever handheld your heart really desires...

I don't think those discounted handheld will come with any stipulation that you cannot get rid of them, will they?
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:17 PM   #6
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I was messing around with a buddy's T5, (and my wife has a T|E1, so it's the same form factor).

The rumors aren't rumors regarding T5 stability. It's why I didn't get it, and rather instead plunged headfirst into PPC world instead of just upgrading from my T3. One thing I'm noticing between both my buddy's handheld and my wifes', is that after only a little time (3 months, I think ... he got it shortly after the T5 became available) the front buttons (Calendar, To Do, etc) are no longer firm, but are very easy to shift around in their housing. While it's hard to describe, the buttons are none the less probably best described as "Loose". They weren't when he first got the T5, however. Everyone at the office was doing the "Wow" thing as he had it charging up.

The latest software, and latest patches, of course, will make a difference in running a T5. His has for the most part, stabilized after upgrading a LOT of software. But he still has to soft reset more than the average Palm. /shrug/

I don't have any experience with the LifeDrive. Was going to pick it up yesterday, but CompUSA blew it. I went in at 11:00am local time, and they still hadn't received their shipments (they had 15 slated for arrival that day). To use the phrase: Day late, $500 dollars short. /shrug/

I wish you the best at your conference. I would suggest that unless you want all of the ancillary expenses of a new handheld that you at least stick with the same OS platform. IE: You mentioned that you were currently running Windows Mobile 2003. If you are truly in the market for a new handheld, give a look to HPs iPaq hx2755 and Dell's x50 or x50v. At least that way, you get to upgrade, you get new and advanced features (some of them security related, if you go with the ipaq I listed), and you don't have to repurchase a lot of your software.

Ancillary expenses include:
Software licenses on new platform:
Calendaring (either DateBk5 or Pocket Informant, depending on platform)
Database (Smartlist To Go, HanDBase, or something else... )
Financial Records (Pocket Money (free, actually), or Pocket Quicken ($40))
Games. They don't seem to transfer real welll. :-/

As you can see, the ancillary expenses add up QUITE fast. It's kind of amusing, after the fact. I paid $550 for my iPaq, and the software costs have already jumped that up another $100 plus dollars. It's getting expensive. And I still have not decided which database software to use (I'm leaning towards HanDBase at the moment).

So like I said: Good luck on your unenviable tough decision to come.
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:36 PM   #7
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The discounts are only for selected models. I would think the ones with a 40% discount are the older models like the Treo 600, Tungsten C, etc.
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Old 05-19-2005, 01:54 PM   #8
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Until more is known about its compatibility and performance, I'd stay away from a LifeDrive.

If you absolutely have your mind set on buying a Palm device, I'd look at a T|5 + WiFi card, although you'll have to deal with some instability. The root of the problem is the poor implementation of NVFS. It's outrageous that, unlike the Treo650, PalmOne never released a patch for this.
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Old 05-19-2005, 03:04 PM   #9
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I've also heard that the discount applies to older models that they're trying to blow out. That being said, you might think about just picking up something you hadn't tried before like a Tungsten W, playing around with it and selling it on eBay.

Just a thought.
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Old 05-19-2005, 03:17 PM   #10
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40% is a good number, thats a good chunk off the T5 if you think about it ($400 - 40% = $240) so that can work out good. And even for older models, like the Treo 600 ($300 - 40% = $180) that aint a bad call. I doubt the LD would be discounted that much since it just came out. You might get a coupon; but more than that I dont think would happen.

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Old 05-19-2005, 03:59 PM   #11
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If they will give you 40% off on a LD I think I would grab the opportunity and buy it. Because it is the flagship PDA, Palm will not be offering discounts or promotions of the LD for a year at least.

If they do not discount the LD then you might consider the T5. Today is my second day as a new T5 owner and I am liking it. I have the WiFi card and have been having great fun surfing with that.

I have not had any instability problems with the T5 but I cannot say I have been taxing it in only two days. I have been upgrading a lot of old applications left from my old Palm to newer versions though and everything seems pretty stable.

I can say that the longer 320 X 480 screen is wonderful for reading ebooks. I would have liked to get the LD, but $500 was just to much, but at 40% off that would be a great deal.

Based on just 2 days with the T5 I'm impressed with it.
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Old 05-20-2005, 01:41 PM   #12
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Last year at DevCon palmOne sold the T3 in the store (it was pretty new at the time) as well as carrier-based and unlocked Treo 600s. So, assuming the same setup as last year, it's quite likely the LD will be represented there, but who knows.

Assuming 40% off is valid on the LifeDrive, that's $300, not shabby at all. I think last year the T3 could be had for $200, so I think there's a good chance the LifeDrive will be available.

we shall see. :-)
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Old 05-20-2005, 10:27 PM   #13
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I will also second the X50v from Dell. It is exceptional in every way, with the only faults being the buttons for games and no jog dial, but Ive gotten used to reading without the jog dial. No biggie for me anymore. Plus you have wifi and BT built in. Stability is great.
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