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Old 07-12-2005, 04:30 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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The Once and Future Palm

1SRC features an interesting editorial by Jeff Kirvin called "The Once and Future Palm": There's been a lot of "Palm is dead" doom and gloom out there in the last week or so. Even sites focused on Windows Mobile have grabbed this meme and run with it. I have to admit to being partly at fault myself. I was too grim in last week's 1SRC podcast and declared Palm OS dead before I really broke down and analyzed the situation.

Good read and I agree in many points, except when Jeff says, "conventional wisdom is that the jump in clarity from 320x480 to 480x640 isn't worth the corresponding drop in battery life and the amount of software recoding that would need to be done; HVGA is "good enough" on a 3.7in screen." If you have ever seen in action a Pocket PC with VGA resolution and a 3.7" screen (such as the Axim X50v), you'll know that the addition of twice the amount of pixels (320x480->480x640) is a huge jump in screen clarity and it definitely makes it worthwhile if you consider using your PDA for anything else besides organizing your personal calendar.

Also, I am not sure if Jeff is right about what he says regarding Palm OS and multitasking capabilities. Seems like some people believe it does offer multitasking, or at least some kind of it (Jeff), while others believe the contrary. In a similar discussion here at Mobileread, Dianne Hackborn of PalmSource pointed out that multitasking is a required feature also for handhelds nowadays:

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I think the key thing is that this isn't really an either/or question. For the kinds of things these devices are doing -- multimedia, all kinds of communications stuff, web browsing, etc -- multithreading and multiple running applications is required. That doesn't mean, however, that you should be forced to use it for things where it doesn't give any benefit, such as in your address book app.
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Old 07-12-2005, 04:44 PM   #2
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My wife just got a new HP9120 and the VGA screen is certainly an improvement over my T3 screen (especially in daylight). But for someone like me, who uses a handheld mainly for written and oral (rather than visual) content, the improvement is not "huge". Certainly it is not enough to make me run out to buy a new pda. OTOH, I never watch videos or movies (the screen size, for me, makes that ridiculous), and I suppose that for that purpose the VGA screen is a major upward tick.

BUT I notice on her brand new unit a somewhat slower reaction time in accessing programs, a complexity of operation she finds tricky to master (she had been using a Sony), and an unappealing GUI.

But from her I am learning what Palm knows, that users RARELY add software to their handhelds. She is quite computer savvy, but is not interested in 3rd party creations. She uses what's there already and is satisfied. Too often here we forget that we are a small minority.

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Old 07-12-2005, 05:46 PM   #3
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Radleyp, ... you're right, power users usually ARE the minority. But a "Powerful" minority, for the dark side is strong with us.

Erm.

Watched Star Wars too many times on my Handheld I guess. /grin/

My own wife uses a Zod2, and if it has 3rd party software on there, it's because I put it on there trying to anticipate her needs. She's gone through and deleted about 65% of the software that I put on there. /laugh/ Go figure, I'll never truly understand the mind of a woman. But I'll continue trying, methinks. Keeps her happy, anyway.

I myself am happy actually with a QVGA screen on my iPaq hx2755. I have to be honeest, however. My T3 is still around *somewhere* and I do miss it's clarity and (it's BARELY better screen than the hx2755, but ONLY barely). For the most part, there are times when the T3, even when I had it *(permanently)* underclocked to 200mhz, was way faster than my hx2755 (whcih I don't underclock at this time, ... don't know how or the effects it would have). /shrug/ go figure.
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Old 07-12-2005, 06:22 PM   #4
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I agree that VGA is not a necessity (yet), though it is still nice to have.

But to say that VGA is to be avoided because it would require more battery life and software to be recoded is wrong, in my point of view. If PalmOne was so much concerned about battery life, then they would certainly not release a PDA that lasts less then three hours with WiFi turned on or music files played. And what's wrong with software being recoded (whatever that means; it certainly cannot mean that software would have to be rewritten from scratch) if you want to embrace new technology?

I cannot get rid of the feeling that some good folks are trying to defend the terrible legarthy of a company who tries to sell "less for more" with a pricetag that would even make Pocket PC vendors blush.
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Old 07-12-2005, 06:55 PM   #5
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I'd like to point out that it is a falcity to believe that more pixels (i.e. 480x640 vs. 320x480) are directly related to higher battery consumption.

The main battery drainer is the backlight of the LCD screen. As long as the surface area (i.e. 3.7") of the screen doesn't change, you don't need more or less battery to power the screen, no matter whether you are dealing with VGA or QVGA.

Quick LCD tutorial. Basically you have two grooved plates with liquid crystal molecules sandwiched in between. The display works by applying a voltage to the 2 plates which causes the LC molecules to align in certain ways. Now, when we move to a higher resolution screen, we have plates with smaller grooves and more (smaller) LC molecules. But the voltage is still applied to the plates. Therefore, since the plates are the same size, they require the same amount of voltage to power the entire screen. It is simply the number and size of the molecules in between that gives us the higher resolution.

What IS required in order to use a higher screen resolution is a more powerful processor (and/or an additional graphic chip as used by current high-end Pocket PCs (Dell, HP)) to update the screen fast enough. Of course the faster processor can also come handy for other applications such as multitasking, multimedia, Internet capabilities, etc.

Heck, I should also mention that the additional graphic chip that is used in some Pocket PCs allows users to reduce CPU clock speed to a minimum and still be capable to run full-length mpeg/divx movies (with a CPU below what would be required to run the same movies on a Tungsten T3 let's say).
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Old 07-12-2005, 06:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander
I cannot get rid of the feeling that some good folks are trying to defend the terrible legarthy of a company who tries to sell "less for more" with a pricetag that would even make Pocket PC vendors blush.
I agree 100%. Excellent statement!
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Old 07-13-2005, 03:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander
I cannot get rid of the feeling that some good folks are trying to defend the terrible legarthy of a company who tries to sell "less for more" with a pricetag that would even make Pocket PC vendors blush.
Well, the T|5 and LifeDrive are indeed overpriced. For that money you would've expected at least a cradle! The T|E2 and Zire31 are good value for money, however. Palm Inc. knows very well it's the only player left in the PalmOS field and thus charges a premium for their products. Nothing wrong with that strategy.
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Old 07-13-2005, 08:21 PM   #8
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Palm Inc charges too much for their products hence more and more people are going to Window Mobile, with better software and better hardware. End results, Palm's marketshare sinks like a rock.

I remember the day when Palm users would say that Microsoft would never gain a foothold, Palm has more software, yada yada

Neither of the Palm's you mentioned have bluetooth OR wifi. Thats a dealbreaker for alot of people. Add to this no new OS for the past 2years and the next 2 years....
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Old 07-14-2005, 03:29 AM   #9
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For me, the main things in a PDA are 1) the battery life and 2) a decent screen a la Tungsten-T as I read a lot of books. Everything else is secondary. Wireless connectability is fun (especially wi-fi) but I can live without. Yes, it is fun to watch movies on a PDA the first couple of times, but the screen is too small for that purpose. In other words, Palm is not going the my way any more.
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