March 19, 2001
4:18 AM   Subscribe

Geeks (like me), welcome the new Palm m505 -- all the style of the V series, with an improved color lcd screen and an expansion slot! Yum.
posted by lia (47 comments total)
I am SO giving my mother my Palm III (which is older than MeFi!) and saving up to buy this, although some people in my local user group are leaning towards the new Sony Clies or Handspring Edges. How about the rest of you? Or is the MeFi crowd in general still not ready for PDAs?

(Oh, and for those of you who've never seen it, Jason Kottke's parody of those Palm ads, Simply Porn, is still funny after almost two years)
posted by lia at 4:27 AM on March 19, 2001

I really like the design and features of the M505 (and M500), but the price needs some work. I moved from a PIII to a Handspring Platinum in the Fall and I was very happy with the performance, the better screen clarity, and the modules. The downsides of it are not being able to upgrade the OS (same with M50x series), some modules don't permit the cover to fit properly (the M50x series will have more difficulties as the devices clip on the back), and the thickness (really wanted a PVx). The Palm M50x series vibrates which is a really nice feature (not having Star Wars theme play when attending Tosca).

It is not quite my dream handheld, but it does have me drooling (I love the design).
posted by vanderwal at 4:54 AM on March 19, 2001

Do my eyes deceive me, or is Palm finally offering out-of-the-box Mac support? I may be wrong, though.

Still, I think I'm gonna stick with my Visor.
posted by toddshot at 5:01 AM on March 19, 2001

How about the rest of you? Or is the MeFi crowd in general still not ready for PDAs?

Hell, I don't even have a home phone. This looks cool but a bit out of my league.
posted by methylsalicylate at 5:56 AM on March 19, 2001

What would you need a PDA for?
I'm being serious here, some of the most useful things about having one is?
posted by tiaka at 6:03 AM on March 19, 2001

I have a Visor Deluxe and I love it! It was only about $200.
I bought it because I moved overseas. Great stuff I can do with it:
1. Showtimes and reviews for all movies nearby, updated automatically when I sync.
2. Restaurant reviews and directions.
3. English/French dictionary
4. Metro stops (automatically tells me how to get from one to another by the quickest routes)
5. Maps
6. Newspapers (I happen to like Salon, I admit it, also Le hundreds of others available using Avantgo)
7. A bunch of other stuff such as alarm clock, address book, calendar, to do list
8. Pics of friends (poor quality images but nice to have)
9. Coola allows me to send stuff (docs, to do items, appointments, addresses) to my friend's PDA remotely to update when he syncs
10. French grammar quizzes
11. Currency converter
12. Tons of other stuff I'm forgetting....
Anyone else? I'm curious for more ideas...I've quickly become a real PDA addict.
posted by u.n. owen at 6:17 AM on March 19, 2001

I keep a massive list of cds that i plan on purchasing on mine, so that when i go to the record store, I'm not scratching my head trying to remember what to get. I also used the address book, and date book quite frequently. I use it everyday.
posted by ding at 6:19 AM on March 19, 2001

"What would you need a PDA for? I'm being serious here, some of the most useful things about having one is?"

Well, on mine I have all my personal and work contacts, complete with names, phone numbers, addresses, and notes, a full appointment book, a notepad with virtually unlimited sheets of paper, a checkbook (Pocket Quicken) that works with Quicken on my desktop, secure password storage for those passwords I can never remember, all sorts of reference documents (from how to wire a Cat5 cable to the entire text of the Jargon File, not to mention I can play games on it if I get bored. Oh, and the calculator program has come in handy more than once.

How's that? =)

(Handspring Visor Deluxe, btw)
posted by CrayDrygu at 6:38 AM on March 19, 2001

cray: do you like the pocket quicken? i need a banking app for my palm v.

i use mine for contacts of course, and the calendar. besides keeping a cd list, ala ding above, i also keep a list of items that would make good gifts for my wife. the next birthday/anniversary/xmas/whatever is always just around the corner. my list of different computer accounts/passwords get used quite frequently.

i also have the foldout keyboard, and i use that to take notes with at meetings or when i travel, instead of having a laptop.
posted by lescour at 7:00 AM on March 19, 2001

- tiaka - I moved from the day timer/filofax environment to a Palm more than two years ago. The filo only held 2 months of days easily which made planning months out difficult and the address book was in pencil and limited me to how much information I could keep. I had been using a personal information manager (PIM), since 1992 and I was printing out my address book from there, but only a limited number of them not the full 350 names (business contacts and acquaintances that are sometime good have take up space).

Moving to a PDA gave me relatively unlimited space for addresses that can be always up to date, calendaring that allows planning for the future, I use Avantgo to read the daily news on my commute on the train, I use JungleSoft maps to find restaurants/businesses/general locations (it was fantastic in Austin/SXSW to find the location of the next event), project outlines in listmanger, a book reader should I get stuck somewhere with nothing to do (as in DMV lines), and restaurant reviews and movie times in Vindigo.

It is a personal choice, the PDA is not for everybody, but for me it made my life easier.
posted by vanderwal at 7:34 AM on March 19, 2001

I have the lowly Palm m100 which I chose because I wasn't sure how much I really would use it, and it was relatively cheap.

I use it all the time. It's a pleasure to finally be able to keep addresses neat, despite my friends' proclivity to move around every three or four months. Also, I can organize names on different lists so they are easy to find. Like ding, I keep the massive CD list on mine, as well as a book list.

I download Mapquest directions to it, which I can then read at night in the car without turning the interior lights on, thanks to the backlight feature. If I had more memory, I would also download the weather, and MARTA schedules.

I had a paper dayrunner type calendar/address book before, and I kept appts. in that. Now I put them in my Palm, snappy snap! I can set alarms to beep at me three days before my grandparents' birthdays so I don't forget to send cards.

I'm content with this one for now, but now I know that I will use it so one day I will upgrade to something that does all kinds of super zippy fun stuff.
posted by jennyb at 7:37 AM on March 19, 2001

Oh! And it's also handy for playing games while you're in the bathroom at work!
posted by jennyb at 7:50 AM on March 19, 2001

I don't have a lot of schedule to keep, I guess I'm boring that way. Hmm... but note taking seems nice, as well as lists.
The color visor looks really cool. Hmm... and there are the modules. I'd so want the gpa, mp3 and the modem module. *Sigh* Cost is really high up though, my birthday's soon (June first), maybe I should setup a paypal donate thing.
posted by tiaka at 7:55 AM on March 19, 2001

I have the Visor Platinum. I upgraded from the Visor Deluxe specifically so I could get the OmniSky Minstrel wireless modem thingy. I've since stopped using the modem as it's bulky, slow and tends to crash the thing - sometimes fatally.

I like the Visor Platinum, but would consider upgrading to something smaller/more colorful.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:14 AM on March 19, 2001

Looks like the m505 is trying to go after the module market that the visor created, then monopolized. Shame that the m505 is a half-baked effort. Hardly worth the effort until I can get all the modules available for the visor on the m505 (namely the cell phone).
posted by silusGROK at 8:19 AM on March 19, 2001

Good, so I'm not the only one who bought a Platinum to use with OmniSky and then abandoned it... Talking to the OmniSky people was like talking over a long-delay interplanetary connection: "Don't you people QA this stuff before you ship it?" "It worked on the engineers' machines." "Do you think that's sufficient testing?" "All your base are belong to us."

Buh-bye... (One of those times I actually like working for NamelessGlobalDominationCorp. - dropped the company name, the phrase "legal department" and got my money back pronto)
posted by m.polo at 8:20 AM on March 19, 2001

tiaka, taking notes with a Palm is fantastic -- especially if you've got one of the folding keyboards! Notebooks are tedious and serve only the one purpose, and I always lose scraps of paper, and you'd have to type your notes up anyway, whereas you can upload things on your Palm to your computer, or if you have a printer with infrared, print directly from it. Or fax or email it directly! Convergence can be great, and not just because it's novel.

(besides which people in extremely boring meetings can't tell the difference between you note-taking with a stylus and you playing Bubblet or Bejeweled or Sim City if you've turned the sound off, heehee)
posted by lia at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2001

When I purchased my Palm, I thought I'd use it to keep my life more organized. As it happens, I've all but abandoned the organizational features of the device.

Now, I use it almost exclusively for reading content through AvantGo, and eBooks through PeanutPress.

I guess the moral of the story is that a Palm won't turn a disorganized individual into an organized one. Sure, for the first few weeks it's fun to enter in all sorts of information, but eventually the thrill wears off.

Still, I love my Palm - it's great to read my favorite 'blogs, the New York Times, and the like, while riding the train or sitting on the bus.
posted by aladfar at 8:37 AM on March 19, 2001

i keep a list of wines i've had before and liked or have gotten a good review because i have so much trouble remembering.

also, i have the full text of the Bible in there, which also has a rudimentary search function that's pretty handy.

i also use the contacts, calendar, and todo list.

i have transitioned over time from a Bible and a 3 ring Daytimer binder to my Palm. yipee!
posted by Sean Meade at 8:40 AM on March 19, 2001

I just bought a palm iii off ebay, but I only want it to control midi. (now that's some "yum!" :)
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:02 AM on March 19, 2001

sonofsamiam, midi? midi??? you scare me.
posted by lia at 9:09 AM on March 19, 2001

Whut's wrong with midi?
Most analog synthesizers are controlled w/ midi these days. Midi is good for controlling LFOs and triggering samples and stuff.

So there.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:18 AM on March 19, 2001

I own a HP Jornada 450 series, and I absolutely love it. I recommend it above the Palm for a couple of reasons:

1) Unlike other Pocket-PC's (MS's version of the Palm OS), the Jornada has an optional fold-out keyboard, making input much, much easier than graffiti.

2) Easy synchronization with MS word and Outlook means that I can type up simple documents on my PDA, and have them be Word documents when I synch. On the Palm, you can only use the "notes" feature, which is far less useful. And even the commercial document features only allow you to EDIT Word documents on your palm, you cannot create them.

3) The ability to carry .mp3's on the Jornada, which I don't *think* you can do on a palm without an attachment.

Anyway, just my $.02
posted by gd779 at 9:33 AM on March 19, 2001

Ah, sorry sonofsamiam -- not being a musician, I tend to forget that there's more to midi than freaking out and hitting the speaker mute button when a page loads playing something like the Titanic Disco Mix. :)
posted by lia at 9:34 AM on March 19, 2001

gd779 - The first two features are easily doable on a Palm OS handheld. The folding keyboard was first designed for the Palm then modified for others. There are document applications that allow you to write documents that are pushed to Word or whichever format you would like. The MP3 is not doable on a standard Palm, but the HandSpring modules are very slick for doing this (particularly the Good Tech. which allows you to slip the module in a sleeve and leave the PDA behind when you go running or to the gym).

It is all about preference.
posted by vanderwal at 10:05 AM on March 19, 2001

vanderwal - could you post a link to the 'Good Tech' mp3 player you mention if you have one? Sounds interesting, and I didn't see it on handspring's site or on a quick google search. Do you know the approx. price?
posted by u.n. owen at 10:26 AM on March 19, 2001

Sony's new color Clie, which should be available here later this year, will have integrated MP3 playback. If you want it now, and you want it built into the machine, your only choice currently is a PocketPC running a Microsoft OS.
posted by kindall at 10:27 AM on March 19, 2001

I've got a Handspring Visor Deluxe. I use the phone book, date book, memo pad, and (of course) games almost daily. I've got the fold-out keyboard, but I haven't used it that much. My only complaints are that it's kinda slow and rather bulky compared to Palm Pilots. Thus, I really really really want to get a Visor Edge.

Alas, the Edge isn't compatible with the current Targus folding keyboard. But they've assured me they're working on one now.
posted by phichens at 10:33 AM on March 19, 2001

Palm can keep pumping out ever-jazzier hardware, but if they don't get around to doing a radical OS overhaul, they're doomed in the long run. Not tomorrow, but in the next couple years. The PocketPC platform just does SO much more, for not much more money. And PocketPC prices are edging downward, while Palm platform prices are trending up for all but the lowest-end PDAs.

It seems like Microsoft is trying to jam as much PC as it can into a PDA, while Palm is just trying to find new ways to clunkily bolt on new features to a platform that was never designed to be much more than an electronic Rolodex. The latter can't go on forever. And PocketPC's color screens annihilate Palm's. The Palm screens look like someone just added splashes of color to B&W pages, while the PPC's look like, well, color screens.

This is coming off more negatively than I mean it to be. I don't dislike Palm at all; I just think their strategy needs to change if they're not going to end up steamrolled.
posted by aaron at 10:34 AM on March 19, 2001

On top of the usual great uses of the Palm (calendar, games, webpages, etc.), here are a couple more that haven't been mentioned yet:

Check register -- I use Pocketmoney to enter my checks and debit card transactions, then import them into Quicken with no retyping.

Drawing -- I use Diddle to make simple drawings. For instance, I can use it to sketch dimensions when I'm working on a home improvement project.

Travel -- Whenever I get an email confirmation from my travel office or a hotel, I copy/paste it into the corresponding travel event in my calendar. It keeps all my confirmation numbers in one place with no paperwork.
posted by Dirjy at 10:45 AM on March 19, 2001

I went a completely different route a couple of weeks ago and bought Franklin's new ebookman. Why? Bigger screen for bi-focaled me, plus I want to explore the ebook business quite a bit more. I've been able to read a variety of print formats on the ebookman and have listened to plenty of free audio. So far, I'm pretty impressed with what I got for $229.00. So much so that I'm giving my ancient Palm to my teenage son.
posted by debrahyde at 10:57 AM on March 19, 2001

Ok, yeah, but am I the only one who thinks that the expansion slot was poorly thought out?

If not even because the smaller we make the hole, the higher we set the barriers to entry into the addon market (not to mention how easily the stuff will break off when sticking out), how about this "security on the connectors" crap?
posted by baylink at 10:59 AM on March 19, 2001

I am a very disorganized person, and the palm still helps. Some of my uses include:

-using "list" a freeware database, to keep track of videos to rent and books to check out. I'll go to the bookstore, write down interesting titles, then go to the library to check them out. Sort of an analog napster.

-Syncing email with Eudora and the keyboard adapter--answering email in bed is cool.

I almost never use the to do function, because it's not integrated with the calendar sufficiently so I forget about it.

I have an m100, and lust for an m105 or a trgpro so I can load up lots of ebooks.
posted by mecran01 at 11:40 AM on March 19, 2001

I got a TRGpro about a year ago. It's basically a Palm III on steroids. TRG makes the memory for Palm and on this one there is a non-proprietary compact flash memory slot on the back. You can have 300 MB of memory on that thing (not that I do). You can also run any app from the compact flash.

I do like it and especially like pulling out my folding keyboard within eyesight of unsuspecting coworkers.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:44 AM on March 19, 2001

So... if someone would indulge me... I've been PDA shopping and haven't been able to figure this out. Which would be the best/cheapest/most efficient PDA for the primary use of 1, getting a little keyboard and writing / reading large text files (like, novel length), and 2, address book. I'm kind of tempted by the Handspring Visor because you can get all those nifty little modules for it, like the digicamera one, but I'm not sure the Visor would be best for my overall purposes...
posted by wiremommy at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2001

I've got a Visor Deluxe and one o' them folding keyboards. It was a handy laptop substitute when I was on assignment at Macworld Expo in San Francisco this past January and I found it perfectly adequate for writing. (I did take a laptop as well but it failed to be useful.) The only thing I don't like about the Visor is its screen, which is less than useful in near-dark (there are many circumstances when it's too dark to read the screen but not dark enough for the backlight to be useful). But this is true of just about all the monochrome Palm-type PDAs except the Sony Clie. If the m500 has an improved screen, I'm gonna be all over it.
posted by kindall at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2001

hey, sonofsamiam, are there already MIDI products for Palm? I was actually thinking about how much I would like a Palm-based sequencer, but haven't really looked into it, laregly because I don't own a Palm at all! =P

And yes, MIDI rocks. It can do a lot more than annoying music on your computer.
posted by ookamaka at 12:31 PM on March 19, 2001

Look here, ookamaka. Some of the links are broken, though. Also, maybe minimusic.
I'm just recently getting into this, though, so I'm sure there's more.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:35 PM on March 19, 2001

u.n. owen - Here is the Good Technologies site. They make a HandSpring MP3 module that allows you to also plug the module in a sleeve with a battery to leave the HandSpring behind. The module will not indicate the songs or time remaining on its own, but it is rather tiny.
posted by vanderwal at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2001

The "secure connector" thing is a perfect one-issue reason to abandon the Palm platform entirely. If we as consumers do not take an extremely strong stand against attempted corporate control of our own data, we'll lose all control in just a few years. Until they abandon all attempts at limiting our rights, I'll never even consider a Palm, and neither should anyone else. A little extra convenience today will be paid for in spades tomorrow.
posted by aaron at 1:42 PM on March 19, 2001

aaron, it's better to buy it, then hack it. And publish everything you do on the net.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:53 PM on March 19, 2001

wiremommy, probably the best solution for the circumstances you describe would be a Handspring Visor Platinum: 8MBs of RAM on board, faster than all of the Palm units except those just announced, multiple memory expansion options and several different keyboard options. Word processing doesn't come naturally in the Palm OS, so you'll need a third party product. Check out Documents to Go from Dataviz if you use Microsoft Word on your desktop computer. Oh, and that Springboard slot is kinda cool, but after the initial excitement, there's not that many different modules, though all of the basics you'll need are covered (modems, memory expansion, etc.)
posted by m.polo at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2001

If we as consumers do not take an extremely strong stand against attempted corporate control of our own data, we'll lose all control in just a few years.

Wait. Is there something in the new Palms that gives Palm control of my data? I musta missed that, spill!
posted by kindall at 3:08 PM on March 19, 2001

I've got a Palm M100, I got it for Christmas, and geez does that M505 make me want to go out and get a new one...

*green with envy*
posted by Yardsale at 3:57 PM on March 19, 2001

"cray: do you like the pocket quicken? i need a banking app for my palm v."

I love it...but then, it all depends on how you expect to use it. PQ really isn't much more than a glorified checkbook. You can split transactions between accounts, etc. But it definitely needs the desktop version to be worth anything.

"if they don't get around to doing a radical OS overhaul, they're doomed in the long run."

At the risk of rehashing a discussion that's been seen countless times on Palm-related message boards and newsgroups:

Palms are not PocketPCs. Palms are not meant to do the same things PocketPCs are. Palms are not for the same kind of people that PocketPCs are.

Palms are organizers. PocketPCs are shrunken laptops. Palms keep phone numbers and appointments. PocketPCs keep mp3s and TV shows.

Do the functions overlap in places? Yes. Does that mean they have the same target audience? No.

"I'll never even consider a Palm, and neither should anyone else."

Well, I guess I know who I won't be selling my old one to when I upgrade.

Actually, though, I'm buying Handspring, not Palm. But -- gasp -- Palm still gets royalties for the OS, so I guess I'm going to hell anyway.

Give it a rest. Palm isn't the company "taking control of your data," even if they're giving other companies a means to do it. It's the companies that make use of the "secure connection." Boycott them.

I'm already a hypocrite, since I own DVDs, though, so don't listen to me.
posted by CrayDrygu at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2001

Pocket Quicken's best feature for me is allowing me to enter my ATM withdraws as I make them. When I synch my HandSpring/Palm Quicken gets updated with what I never could remember to enter.
posted by vanderwal at 5:29 PM on March 19, 2001

sorry - both the new palm and the visor seem same-old to me. here's what i want:

right now - a palm OS device with mad storage and a headphone jack.

in 6 mos - a palm that IS a phone, not a phone with a miniature palm OS hidden within.

is that so wrong?
posted by subpixel at 11:27 AM on March 21, 2001

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