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Palm Tungsten C




Palm Tungsten C Introduction Tungsten C

I've been using the Palm Tungsten C PDA since August 2004, and it's become an essential part of my working life. And inevitably I've started to play around with the original settings to get it more attuned to how I like to do things.

Why I chose the Tungsten C

Two main reasons. First off is that my workplace diary system (Meetingmaker) synchs better with Palm devices than with Pocket PCs. At least, that was the advice I was given and there is generally more support available at work for Palm Tungstens than for anything else. So given that this was essentially a business tool, it seemed sensible to go with the main line of local technical support.

So once I was committed to the PalmOS, it became a choice between models. A number of factors applied at this point. Wifi seemed a good idea. I've a wireless router at home, so I'd be able to access mail/web via the Palm from anywhere in the house. More to the point, there's extensive wifi at work, so wireless connectivity makes a huge amount of sense there as well. I wasn't bothered about access via a phone (GSM/GPRS) as I'm really not interested in paying by the minute (and probably through the nose) for access. Several models offer wifi access via datacards, but the C is the only Palm with built-in wifi.

The other key factor was the keyboard. I'd become used to the idea that the screen-based entry systems (tapping a virtual keyboard or using Graffiti) would work ok, but I spend a lot of time in meetings and can never keep track of my paper-based notes, so anything that helps on inputting is a bonus. I'd also noticed that anyone with a keyboard-based system tends to make rather more use of their device than those who tap. Could just be the people I know of course (and they were on the fabulous but expensive HP Jornada), but the majority of users I've seen tend to use them as not much more than a portable diary and to-do list.

Oh, the one I got was on offer in Dixons at 90 off the standard PalmOne price.

Impressions

Well this page speaks for the fact that I like the Tungsten C (T|C). The unit itself is not the best looking piece of kit I've handled. It lacks the sleekness of other Palm devices. But the keyboard (thumb-board) works well, and the whole thing feels solid enough. The out-of-the-box software is certainly adequate to get you started. You get a reasonable date-book, memo-pad, photo and e-mail package (works with POP and IMAP, though with some limitations which I'll come back to). The WiFi is excellent (works first time with anything I've aimed it at). The web-browser that comes with it is ok for some things, but is somewhat limited (I upgraded). There's a decent basic calculator and a note-pad for handwritten notes. Plus a couple of games.

The flip-cover isn't really adequate (it gives some protection to the screen, but not much else). I ended up buying a Proporta aluminium case. Not the prettiest but it does mean you can safely drop a brick on the Palm and it will survive. I also invested in some screen-protectors to prevent scratches.

The desktop software is straightforward and efficient, and the HotSynch cradle is fine. I've also bought a separate charging cable so that I can charge up the unit when I'm away from my main machine (see next section).

Surprises

Not surprisingly as this is my first exploration of a PDA, I was caught out by a few things. Key things to note:

The Tungsten C has a fixed battery (you can't open the unit) which you need to keep charged up. If you let it go flat you lose your data. This isn't as devastating as it sounds as you can never lose the core applications (they are hard-written to the device), and if you hotsynch to your desktop you can generally get all your data back. Battery time is reasonable (I've used the thing solidly all day at work without a problem) but if I'm going to be away from somewhere where I can re-charge I make sure I set the Palm to switch off after so many minutes inactivity. There's certainly enough power for a working day, and with a charger cable you can plug in to any USB port and get a trickle charge that'll keep you going.

Soft, Warm and Hard 'Resets' were another new one on me. The Palm can and does crash occasionally. A soft reset is simple (you just poke into a recess on the back, and the machine pops back to life... you get a tool for doing this inside the stylus). No data loss this route, and it only takes a second.

A warm reset (up button plus hit the reset recess on the back) helps sort an application-specific freeze. A hard reset does however wipe your data. Only use this if a soft and warm resets don't work. Lost data can be restored from your desktop, assuming you hotsynch regularly (daily in my case). I've had to go this route once. To avoid future problems I've just invested in a Secure Data (SD) card, plus a piece of software called Backup Buddy VFS. This allows me to backup my entire system and data to the SD card, and do a restore from there. So I'm now covered for restoring my system even when I'm nowhere near my main PC.

One last thing to remember. You have to designate a Hotsynch i.d name to your Palm when you set it up. This is essential information when downloading new applications. If you don't get the name right when you download a new application, it may well not work.

Customizing your Palm
Skinning with ZLauncher
OperaMini on a Palm
EiP PDA site

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back all text copyright Paul Cecil, 2005