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« Would You Go Back in Time? | Main | Post-Bubble Silicon Valley »
Tuesday
May202003

Palm's Tungsten Series Fares Well against iPAQ

Tungsten vs. iPAQInteresting article was posted today at Palm Infocenter about recent tests that show the Palm Tungsten T and Tungsten C faring quite well compared to the Pocket PC iPAQ h1910 and h5450 in several critical areas.

Specifically, battery life was significantly better on the Tungsten C, which pulled off eight hours at full screen brightness. The Tungsten C with Wi-Fi active ran 3:45 vs. the 5450's 2:10; over an hour and a half longer. The Tungsten C's 1800mAh battery certainly shines here.

If you look at the VeriTest PDF document (72k), you'll see that battery life was about equal between the Tungsten T and iPAQ h1910: both were at 4:15 with screen on full brightness. When playing MP3s, the TT came in at 4:30 and the h1910 clocked 4:32. The h5450 came in at only 2:27 with the screen on full brightness and at 3:40 playing MP3s -- battery life a bit more equivalent to a notebook than a PDA.

Days until data loss was another interesting section -- both TC and TT last about 20 days on 'standby' mode, where all battery life is focused on maintaining data to the point of deactivating the screen completely. The h1910 comes in 3rd at 10 days and the h5450 only offers 4 days. Better not forget the 5450's power charger on a long business trip!

Lastly, I found it interesting that identical information took more space on Pocket PC OS than on Palm OS. This included datebook, contact and address databases as well as Word and Excel files converted/stored in Documents To Go vs. Pocket Word and Excel. While the difference is subtle, I think this test indicates Pocket PC is a bit less efficient in file storage than Palm OS.

These tests got me thinking about comparisons between Pocket PC and Palm OS devices and how they're starting to match up in specs and pricing quite nicely. I think Palm OS has the advantage of a much simpler to use and faster operating system that's more efficient in both the number of taps to do things and in power consumption. Further, the Palm OS platform offers many more software titles and a wide array of physically different devices.

Yes, Palm OS still has the 4k memo limitation among other well-known problems carried over from the days of the Pilot 1000. However, when Palm OS 6 arrives, the playing field will shift even further -- Palm OS licensees will have the same hardware and in many cases better specs (320 x 320 hi-res for instance), integrated security, multimedia, XML extensibility, and efficient code that takes less space, runs more quickly and efficiently than Pocket PC.

That's when things will get interesting -- you'll have two platforms that are equal in megahertz and chips, that will probably be similarly priced and will most likely integrate Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or both. However, the Palm OS devices will come in many different shapes and sizes, have higher resolution screens, run faster and more efficiently, have better battery life and have some 17,000+ available apps to choose from.

Some PDA commentators suggested that PalmSource ought not try and beat Microsoft at its own game by matching specs... I never agreed with that reasoning. When I look at where Palm OS is going, the spec match game benefits Palm OS much more than Pocket PC, especially considering screen resolution and battery life. Palm OS seems to be catching up and aiming to pass by a stagnating Pocket PC OS especially if the upcoming PPC OS update is more of a bug fix than a significant leap.

I'm getting the feeling Palm OS might just be sneaking up on Pocket PC. Surprising, eh?

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