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Entries in Palm (128)

Monday
Apr172006

Back to the Future: from Zire to Clié

transition.jpgI'm apparently on a "losing" streak the past 2 months: first I lost my Moleskine sketchbook back in February and about a week and a half ago, I lost my Zire 72s. Like the Moleskine, I thought it was secure in my jacket pocket — I knew I had it before I'd left church on Wednesday, but somewhere between church and the van and home, it went missing, and it has been ever since. Needless to say, I've been extra-careful with everything I own since last week!

The odd thing about losing something like a Palm is, you hope it will turn up before deciding to move either to a new device or something else, such as paper. So for the first week I simply lived in limbo, relying on iCal on the Mac for my appointments. I realized that eventually I'd have to choose how to handle mobile appointment management.

Enter the Moleskine Weekly Planner
First, I looked into a 2006 Pocket Moleskine Weekly Planner, but they're very scarce. The few I could locate were running in the $30 range. So, I decided to try creating a weekly format structure in my ruled pocket Moleskine for a week. I found reference photos at the Ninth Wave Designs Weblog for the weekly (1 week across 2 pages), and recreated it on a spread of my Moleskine.

Last week I used this modified Moleskine exclusively for mobile appointments and some tasks, and actually, I found it worked quite well. I really do like seeing my entire week at a glance, which is possible on a Palm, but not with the detail I could achieve with the Moleskine. I found myself writing a bit more in the Moleskine as well, capturing tasks on the week view and other thoughts on the back pages.

However, the Moleskine has some limitations, such as the width. While I love how thin the Pocket sized Moleskine is, the width is just a tad too wide to fit comfortably in my front jeans pocket, compared to the Zire 72. Carrying it in in my back pocket would mean bending it out of shape over time. As summer comes around, I need something less bulky in a pair of shorts.

Secondly, I have concerns about losing the Moleskine and my information, with no easy way for backup. I would of course be using iCal for storing some of the same information, using the Moleskine for capture and review. Still, with my current losing streak, this was something to consider.

Finally, the Moleskine has no alarms, so I can't easily be reminded of an appointment or task while mobile. I could certainly live with all these limitations, but after considering them, my mind started leaning back toward a simple Palm PDA that's small and easy to use, but has sync, backup and alarms.

Which Palm?
So, I began considering Palm devices. In the last several months I've realized the Zire 72 was not being used as much as it, or prior PDAs had been. Mainly it was my source for contacts, a few appointments, a few to-dos, managing my secured Splash ID data, reading weblogs in iSilo, studying the Bible in MyBible and taking an occasional picture with the built-in camera. Beyond these tasks, I realized the Zire 72 was being under-utilized.

I didn't want to invest too much in a PDA, since I still had a faint hope the Zire would turn up, and my usage doesn't justify a $100-200 PDA. As I checked what was available on eBay, I remembered that my father still had an old Sony Clié PDA around, so I gave him a ring. Sure enough, dad had my wife's old N610C, and wasn't using it much anymore, so he dropped it off at the house today.

Back to the Clié N610C
I'd always loved my old Clié, because it, like my other PDAs was so well-balanced. It had a color screen, was small, light and pocketable, ran a long time on a charge and had excellent Classic Graffiti implementation. Compared to newer Palm PDAs, I've noticed that the Clié has a much dimmer screen and slower processor, though I'll gain days or even weeks of battery life in exchange.

cahier.jpgTonight I was able to get my much-loved brown Vaja case for the Clie from the friend I'd sold it to, and bought a Pocket Squared Moleskine Cahier notebook for mobile note-taking. The Cahiers are the same width and height as regular Pocket Moleskines, but have only 64 pages wrapped in thick, black cover stock, for easier storage in my shorts or jeans pockets.

The Clié immediately recognized by The Missing Sync on the Mac, and was very shortly filled with all of my contacts, calendars, to-dos and notes, along with a few critical applications. Now I have a system in place like the one I used before the Tungsten E and Zire 72s. I'm back in business!

Conclusions
I find it fascinating that on the 10th anniversary of the original Pilot, and after several years spent in the modern Palm world, I'm stepping back to an older Clié. In fact, I very nearly abandoned the Palm for a Moleskine, which is amazing, considering how much of a PDA advocate I've been over the past 10 years!

Yet, in many ways this decision process syncs with my beliefs on technology: that each person's solution should be based on what really works for their needs, rather than how cool the solution is, how "advanced" it might appear, or how one might rationalize the decision.

Fancy features and glitzy possibilities will fade over time, but practical, usable solutions will always stand the test of time.

UPDATE 2006-04-18: Jim Barr at Jim's Tips has done something similar to my Zire72 to Clié simplification by reverting from a Palm T3 to a Zire 22, and finds he too likes the simplicity. The Zire 22 was in fact one of the models I'd considered before moving back to the Clié N610, and is still IMO a very nice little PDA for the money.

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Sunday
Feb262006

Vaja PA91 Zire 72 Case Review

zire72front.jpgI've been living with a new Vaja case for my Zire 72s for a few months now, and felt it was a good time to do a review. While I've had a wide variety of cases for my Palm handheld devices over the years, from leather to metal to plastic — I'm pretty firmly in the leather case camp for my PDA.

The case itself was a custom build from Vaja, given as a gift from a friend. I chose the PA91 Sync-able Flip-Top for Zire 72, featuring embossed Vitelino arangio leather inside and out. I omitted padding on the flip cover for a slimmer profile, added 2 SD slots, and no clip, as I tend to carry my Zire in a pocket or my Cafe Bag.

I've been a Vaja case fan ever since my wife and I owned them for our Handspring Visors in the late 1990s and Cliés in the early 2000s. We loved the heavy, well-crafted leather back then, and I can still see the same high quality workmanship and design approach in place on our new cases. In general, Vaja cases are one of the best available for a PDA.

Workmanship, Fit & Finish
The quality of construction is top-notch, as was expected of a Vaja case. Good fit, even stitching, and glossy embossed leather finish were right on the money. The color, Vitelino arangio, was at first a bit of a surprise to me (I'd forgotten I'd ordered such an orangey-tan color) but as I've lived with the color, I've actually grown quite fond of the unique, warm orange hue.

I've noticed that embossed leather is a bit toucher about scratches than the normal style of leather on previous Vaja cases. I've already accumulated a few scuffs on the front flap, I think from dropping the Zire and case into my Cafe Bag and other bags, and maybe even from change in my pants pocket. I can't blame Vaja for this, though in the future I'd probably order standard, rather than embossed leather.

zire72open.jpgDesign
I love the design of this case! The flip-top is hinged far down the backside, allowing shots from the built-in camera, and all of the important ports and buttons are well-accomodated for. Even the headphone jack hole is large enough to deal with the right-angle 1/8" jack of my Koss Porta-Pros. I appreciate the magnetic closure. It keeps the design clean, is easy to open, yet secures the flap in transit.

My one beef with the case design: the direction of the SD card slots. They face inward, toward the top of the Zire. For a normal SD card, it's no problem — but the Palm WiFi SD card's freakishly long length when placed in either slot, prevents the case from closing. Now, the Palm WiFi SD card is quite long, but the Covertec TE case, works perfectly, because it has SD slots facing away from the Zire. My solution: carry the WiFi card in the business card pouch.

Having access to the sync and power ports works well for my usage, as I often plug in for charging or syncing at my workstation. The Covertec has a flap and magnetic clasp which had to be un-hinged to charge or sync, so being able to leave the flap on the Vaja closed is quite convenient in comparison.

Overall Impression
In the few months I've been using the Vaja Zire 72 case, I've been very happy with nearly every aspect of the quality and design. Other than a few minor issues: the SD slot orientation when used with the WiFi SD card and the scuff-prone embossed leather surface, this Vaja PA91 is a winner. The design is top notch and quality are consistent with what I expect from Vaja products.

I've felt confident recommending Vaja to anyone looking for high quality PDA case. My experiences with this latest Zire 72 case have only strengthened that confidence.

Thursday
Jan262006

Brando Treo 650 Music Dock Review

by Steve Rohde

For what it's worth, I consider myself an average Treo 650 user. I really like the idea of a device that combines two things I use on a regular basis: my cell phone and my Palm handheld. It took me a while to make the shift to a Treo only due in part because I felt WiFi should be a regular feature on a Palm handheld.

treo-dock-1.jpgIn July 2005, I made the switch to an all-in-one device, and am now a true “Treo lover.” The lack of on-board or even SD card WiFi options are disappointing, but the Treo's other features make up for this limitation. That said, I now use my Treo for nearly everything: from using the phone, SMS, calendar and to-do list, to listening to MP3s and watching video.

The one thing missing from my system is a dock. Not just a standard "stick-it-in -n-sync" dock, but a dock that would enhance the Treo. I use a Treo to simplify, so a dock should do the same — offering a sync features, a charger, an amplified speaker for music and for speaker phone use.

Palm, Inc. offers no such creature, though Brando Workshop does in their $32 Brando Treo 650 Music Dock. For the most part it does exactly what a Treo dock should do, and more.

Styling
I like the sleek design and color, which fits well with the design of the Treo. It's quite small, with a good angle and position for seeing and using screen. The power indicator light is as intense as a blue light on a police car, which is no big thing for me, but it may be distracting.

treo-dock-2.jpg

Sound
The sound quality of the speakers is sufficient, and the sound range is pretty good. I think that the Dock, like the Treo, is not really meant to replace a stereo system. The Sound is good, but by no means are they comparable to that of a high priced speaker system. There is little distortion at louder levels. This is after all a small dock to amplify sound from a Treo, not a Bang + Olufsen sound system! :-)

Usability
The Treo fits well in the dock and is easy to remove. Just drop it in the cradle, then pick it up and go when you need to hit the road. The Charging and Sync features work pretty seamlessly. One missing feature is a quick sync hardware button commonly found on older Palm docks. It would have been nice to hit a sync button rather than navigating to the HotSync application on the Treo.

My Dock came with Euro power plug that connects to a usb connection. I used the powered usb on my laptop and it worked well until I had a “too much power draw” on my USB port. I solved this by plugging my laptop into the wall socket.

I love the external input; it gives options of listening to other devices without having to squeeze another item on your desk. I've now used the Brando Treo Dock to replace the cheap speakers on my computer.

treo-dock-3.jpgAnother missing feature: a battery option to power the speakers. I drive a bus, and it would have been nice to bring this dock along to listen to tunes or watch a movie while on layover.

As far as the speakerphone option, it worked well, for what I use of it. I don't much use my Treo at work, but the sound is decent and of course, the Treo still has an excellent built-in microphone which more or less makes the dock's speakerphone option a bit redundant.

Conclusion
Just like my Treo the Brando Treo Music Dock has changed my life by making things a little bit easier and simpler. It gave me a dedicated dock to charge my Treo, a speaker system to listen to music and a speaker phone to make calls with.

My vote: thumbs up to Brando for doing what Palm, Inc. hasn't had the time or desire to do for the Treo. The only features I really wish it offered are: a dedicated hardware sync button, and the option to power the unit with batteries for the road.

Editor's Note: This review was written by my little brother Steve, who received a nice shiny Treo Music Dock from Brando for his efforts. Thanks Steve for reviewing this interesting device and thanks to Brando for the review unit. — Mike Rohde

UPDATE 2006-01-27: Peter from Palm Addict wrote to mention he'd done a review of the Music Dock as well, over at PalmAddict, so be sure to see Peter's review too.

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Wednesday
Oct192005

Palm Low-End Email Solution for Mac OS X

email.pngI love using my Zire 72 for reading and writing email on the go, using two great freeware tools. First is e*Mail, a wonderful Palm Mail client replacement from Ikeda Shigeru that offers up to 32k HotSync message truncation size versus Palm Mail's minimal 8k, and much more! This increase in message size really makes HotSynced email practical.

While PC users get a Mail conduit by default, Mac users do not. However, QueueSoft offers Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X Mail conduits that can sync with Outlook Express, Entourage or Apple Mail. All but the Entourage conduit ($9) are freeware and work great.


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Saturday
Sep242005

For Sale: Stowaway Universal Bluetooth Keyboard (Sold!)

stowawaybt_1.jpgI have a Stowaway Universal Bluetooth Keyboard in great condition (barely used) that I wanted to use with my Zire 72. It works well, but having access to Mac Powerbook, the Dana and good old move toward pen and paper, I'm finding I hardly use nor need this very nice keyboard.

I'd like to sell it to someone who would make better use of this small, light and well-engineered device. If you're interested, drop me a line with 'Keyboard' used in the subject line, and let's talk.

Update 2005-10-08: The keyboard was sold to Bill Brandon, Editor of Learning Solutions e-Magazine and a blogger, came across my post via Moleskinerie. I'm very happy the keyboard is going to someone who will enjoy and use it fully. Thanks Bill! :-)

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