It was September of 2002 when I bought my first PDA, a Palm Vx. Though I coveted those cool-looking Windows CE machines, they were far beyond my budget, and wanting to replace my dead Casio BOSS I siezed the opportunity to pick up the Palm while it was at a clearance price. Thus began my love affair with the PalmPilot. It was a great machine, did everythig I wanted and even played some cool games when I had some time to kill. So enamoured was I of this handy (ahem) platform that I subsequently went through four more models in the next three and a half years, ending up with the Tungsten|T5. And it was good. Maybe not as good as I’d like though – there seemed to be some bugs in the OS that had been dogging me; alarms not going off sometimes, the unit not responding to “power off, dammit!” and major issues with the memory expander UDMH, which worked great on my erstwhile Zire72 but just killed my T5. But still, it was the best on offer as far as I was concerned.
Until Easter weekend. That’s when my brother-in-law gave me an HP iPAQ h1940 that he couldn’t get Bluetooth to work properly on. That was the dealbreaker for him. Not a huge deal for me as long as it synced okay, so I took it, and for the next few weeks have been getting to know it as best I could.
It has led me to one inevitable conclusion: palmSource has been sitting on its ass way too long and producing nothing worthwhile.
You see, this PocketPC, with its Windows Mobile 2003, its 266MHz Samsung processor, and its lower resolution was, as far as sheer performance was concerned, kicking my poor T5’s ass nine ways from last Thursday. Multimedia was flawless. Games – well, the Playstation should do so well. PIMs – okay, so my T5 still has a lock on built-in PIMs, but there are third party PIMs for the PPC that kick the T5’s built-in apps, too. (Then again there are third party PIMs for Palm that do that, too) I didn’t even find navigation very arduous, either – if anything the familiarity with a general Windows environment made it pretty quick and intuitive. And it multitasks! I can minimize apps, switch to other apps, all effortlessly. And memory management? One slider lets me adjust between storage and executable memory. With Palm you were limited to your dbcache size, which was fixed on every Palm and differed in size from one model to the next. So, big memory-hungry apps on PPC? No problem. On Palm? Use UDMH, if it works for you, or fuggeddabouddit.
Frankly, within the span of a few weeks I’ve come to realize just how far behind the ball palmSource is. Two years ago and more, after Palm collective split into palmSource (for the OS) and palmOne (for the hardware), palmSource was promising a new and innovative PalmOS 6, codenamed Cobalt. It was supposed to have multitasking, a new environment, multimedia functions, etc. It still hasn’t materialized in any significant way, it’s wholly incompatible with anything that came before it, and it doesn’t even have all the features they kept promising.
So … I hate to admit it, but I have come to love the PocketPC platform, and damn you palmSource for making me realize how long ago I should have switched. You’ve really dropped the ball. I kept hoping something promising was on the horizon. The TX may have been the Great White Hope, but it was just T5 with a slower processor and WiFi. Big deal. The LifeDrive would have ben interesting if it wasn’t bulky, buggy, slow. You killed off the midrange Zire line and only have the Z line, which is entry-level. You have nothing interesting on the horizon. palmOne even released the latest in their Treo line, the 700w. What does it run? Windows Mobile. That pretty much says everything right there.
Just the same, my next PDA is currently in the mail. It’s a Dell Axim x50v, and it will be forcing my T5 into early retirement. Sorry, Palm. You snooze, you lose market share.