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  1. Rob
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       #1  
    I needed a break from work, so I headed over to the local OfficeDepot and picked up a Palm m500 to play with. I'll probably return it in a week or so (or eBay it if they are selling for significant markups...) but I thought I'd write a little mini-review for my friends at VC. I'll post my impressions shortly, but in the meantime, if you have any specific questions you want answered or pictures from specific angles, etc. let me know.
  2. #2  
    2 questions:

    1. Is the metal case on the M500 the same quality as the Vx series? Or does it feal cheaper to you? Is the case all metal, or does it have a plastic back.

    2. Is the display the same used in the Vx, or is it from the IIIxe?
  3. Rob
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       #3  
    Here's are some of my impressions (since this is so unpolished, I just don't feel right calling this even a 'mini-review'):

    Form Factor
    * The Palm m500 curves inwards slightly in the middle, which makes it more comfortable to hold, but less attractive (to me, anyway) than the straight sides of the Palm Vx.
    * Compared to the Palm Vx, it seems to weigh about the same, is slightly shorter, and a touch thicker.
    * The case is metal, almost exactly the same as the Palm Vx case, but slightly lighter in color.
    * Unlike the edge, it does still have all the logos on the back (Palm Powered, UL, CE, SD, FCC, and a bunch of foreign language ones, which I can only assume also indicate that the device passed some sort of safety tests..."we certify that you'll get cancer from your cellphone before you get it from your Palm!")
    * The reset button is located at the top middle of the back of the device

    Hardware
    * The speaker is louder than the Prism, and much louder than the Palm Vx.
    * The leather flip cover attaches into left hand rail (about 1/2 the radius of the stylus rail, which is the same width as the Palm Vx's but not as long)...it's comfortable to hold and of good quality, but I still think the 'bowed-in' sides looks a little funny. It flips around the back just like the Palm Vx cover. One nice touch they should have included is some little pockets in the inside of the cover to hold SD/MMC cards (the space between the screen and cover is sufficient -- I checked)
    * When the flip cover is flipped around to the back, it's a little hard to get the SD/MMC card out (the small cut-out/opening for your finger to grab the edge of the card faces towards the back)
    * The USB/serial "universal connector" is uncovered/unprotected
    * Backlit text is noticably clearer -- it's not nearly as green as as before (on a Palm Vx/VDX), more light gold or auburn colored. I really love the new backlight -- reading docs/ebooks at night is much nicer with this backlit screen than with the old Palm Vx screen (in fact, I think I like it better than even my Prism's screen -- for reading text in the dark, not overall; I still prefer color!)
    * The screen itself is also slightly less green, and slightly clearer (if I remember correctly from the one time I played with a visor edge, it has a similar screen)
    * Has the clock/contrast activation circles in the graffiti area, just like the Palm m100 (although you can't activate the clock with the page up button like you can with the Palm m100)
    * The alarm LED is cool, but just like the blue/red visor edge, you might not see it flashing if the cover is closed (you could only see it from the top then)
    * The vibrating alarm is just awesome, and while it DOES make a sound, it is nowhere near as loud and noisy as the InnoPak/2V (probably 1/3 to 1/2 as loud). Palm got this part right.
    * The up/down rocker has been replaced with two little buttons. This may make game playing harder or less satisfying (I want to spare this unit from the rigors of game-playing, since I plan to sell/return it, so I didn't really test this theory)
    * The Palm m500 comes with a silly-looking fake plastic SD card with the 'Palm Powered' logo on it, to protect your SD/MMC slot (although I guess it doesn't matter what it looks like if it's sitting in your slot)
    * The slot is spring-loaded, so you can press your card down first to get it to 'pop' out partway, but you can also just grab the edge of the card with your fingertip and pull it out without using the spring.
    * Inserting the Palm m500 into the cradle takes a little more pressure than I like (kind of like the stowaway keyboard); also, removing it requires you to tilt the device forward first, and you can hear the little clips scraping against the 'hooks' in the universal connector as you remove it...I really don't like this.

    Software/OS
    * When I put a 64MB MMC card in, it asked if I wanted to format it (probably because I had been using it for my MiniJam, which has a proprietary storage format...I assume it will co-exist peacefully with devices which conform to standard filesystem formats, but I'm not sure)
    * Instead of a Handspring-style 'filemover' app, they put a 'copy' item in the launcher's menu (I guess this has some advantages, such as not having to search through your launcher's category if you can't remember where you put your filemover). Also, there's no move command! I guess they didn't want to deal with the customer support calls when people move apps then remove the card and panic when they can't find the app (so now they can field calls from people who ask why putting apps on their card isn't freeing up space on their Palm...really, folks, you just can't win so you might as well give those of us who know what we're doing the convenience of a 'move' option!)
    * Although they don't have a filemover app, they do have a 'CardInfo' app...why this isn't a menu option like the copy command is beyond me.
    * Interestingly, apps on the card don't show up when you select the 'all' category in the launcher -- they only show up when you explicitly select card's category (the category takes the name of whatever the card's name/label is). You also can't see these apps in the 'category' menu option, so you can't choose to move them into other launcher categories. Again, probably done to make things 'easier', but a slightly irritating limitation. I'm sure 3rd party launchers will fix this though (HS-style 'dots' next to the app names works for me -- I can put them all in the same category myself if I want to, thank you!)
    * You can't create directories/sub-directories on the card using any of the built-in OS commands/apps. Everything you move to the card from the palm goes into the same directory.
    * When you tap on an app that's on the card, you get a 'please wait' message on the screen -- presumably this is for the delay needed to temporarily copy the app to main memory. There's also the same message and much briefer delay when you leave the app as the OS deletes the app from main memory. Auto-loading 'Bejeweled' (grayscale) from a card took 2 or 2.5 seconds, while auto-deleting it took almost no time (please wait message only flashed on the screen briefly)
    * By default, there is a 'Palm.Net' category (but nothing in it)
    * The datebook set time dialog has both an 'all day' (from the 'start time' to the 'end time' you set in your datebook preferences) and a 'no time' option.
    * Alarms now have a 'snooze' button, which has a set duration (not customizable from what I can see). While snoozing, the PalmOS4 'nagging asterisk' flashes on and off in the upper left hand corner of the screen, in all apps that have a menu bar (including the launcher)
    * Audible alarms can be interrupted by tapping anywhere on the screen, but this doesn't work for the LED and vibrating alarms (i.e. if you have datebook prefs set to 'play 3 times', the palm will vibrate three times even if you tap on the screen after the first time)
    * The clock has five alarm sounds: alarm (normal), bumble bee, reveille, sonata, wake up, and warbler. These do not appear to be available for the datebook alarms (the datebook has the usual alarm, alert, bird, concerto, phone, sci-fi, and wake up sounds)
    * Removing a card causes a sad little high-low tone, while inserting one causes a happy low-high tone (both are mildly annoying ), but fortunately you can turn this off by setting system sound to off.
    Last edited by Rob; 04/21/2001 at 03:08 PM.
  4. Rob
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       #4  
    Originally posted by foo fighter
    2 questions:

    1. Is the metal case on the M500 the same quality as the Vx series? Or does it feal cheaper to you? Is the case all metal, or does it have a plastic back.

    2. Is the display the same used in the Vx, or is it from the IIIxe?
    The case is the same quality as the PalmVx. The front and back of the case are completely metal, although there is a thin plastic 'strip' around the edge of the device that goes all the way around (top, bottom, and sides). It's narrower than the strip around the edge, though.

    I don't know what display is used in the IIIxe, but as I mentioned above, the screen is clearer and less green looking, and I think it's the same as the one used on the edge.
  5. #5  
    Originally posted by Rob
    I don't know what display is used in the IIIxe, but as I mentioned above, the screen is clearer and less green looking, and I think it's the same as the one used on the edge.
    If it's gold or auburn colored, as you stated, then it sounds more like the IIIxe display than the Vx. I have to admit, I'm a little tempted, but I'll wait for the M505. Can't wait!

    You have a 64MB MMC card? Geez, all I got is a 32mb.

    Bottom line: Do you like this little guy?
  6. #6  
    I know it's a little too early to ask this, but can you tell if using the MMC/SD card depletes the battery power faster?
  7. Rob
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       #7  
    Originally posted by foo fighter
    Bottom line: Do you like this little guy?
    Yup, I like the form factor and the basic expandability is nice, although not nearly as flexible as the springboard slot. The size and weight of my Prism has been getting to me lately, so when the m505 becomes available, I may just have to jump ship (until the next Handspring device, that is ... ah, the joys of being an early adopter!) The Clie v2 looks pretty nice, too, but you can't really tell what the device feels like/weighs from the pictures and specs.
    Last edited by Rob; 04/20/2001 at 09:54 PM.
  8. Rob
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       #8  
    Originally posted by foo fighter
    I know it's a little too early to ask this, but can you tell if using the MMC/SD card depletes the battery power faster?
    I haven't seen any excessive battery drain, but then again, I don't have much of a baseline to compare against (I would really have to use the unit for a while without ever accessing a SD/MMC card, then use it for a while with frequent usage...I'm not sure I'll have this baby long enough to conduct this test)
  9. Rob
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       #9  
    I have just been playing around with PalmReader (aka PeanutReader)...it seems out that the built-in OS copy command only shows apps, not databases, so you can't use it to copy apps to the card; however, the PalmReader app now includes a menu option to copy docs or encrypted palmreader books to/from the card. Perhaps Palm only wants databases to be moved/copied to the card by the application(s) that use those databases...

    Anyway, PalmReader seems to works fine reading docs directly off the card.
  10. #10  
    If you (or a friend) have a digital camera, could you post some pics? Also what does the cradle look like? Most of the pics I've seen of it online were obscured, but of the partial view I had, it looked goofy.
  11. Rob
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       #11  
    Originally posted by foo fighter
    If you (or a friend) have a digital camera, could you post some pics? Also what does the cradle look like? Most of the pics I've seen of it online were obscured, but of the partial view I had, it looked goofy.
    sure, is there any particular picture/angle (other than one of the cradle) that you want?
  12. #12  
    Any will do. Front..back...side...wearing a dress, oh wait, that's a totally different picture.

    Close-ups would be nice. Most of the pics I've seen of the M500/505 are rather small and low resolution.
  13. Rob
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       #13  
    Cradle 1:
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       #14  
    Cradle 2:
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  15. Rob
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       #15  
    m500 pic 1:
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       #16  
    m500 pic 2:
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       #17  
    m500 pic 3:
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  18. #18  
    * When you tap on an app that's on the card, you get a 'please wait' message on the screen -- presumably this is for the delay needed to temporarily copy the app to main memory. There's also the same message and much briefer delay when you leave the app as the OS deletes the app from main memory. Auto-loading 'Bejeweled' (grayscale) from a card took 2 or 2.5 seconds, while auto-deleting it took almost no time (please wait message only flashed on the screen briefly)
    How big of a program is Bejeweled? The lag time is something that I am concern with. I guess I'm spoiled by the instanteous launch of apps from HS modules.

    Thanks Rob, your report is really helpful!!
    Fat's
  19. #19  
    Keep in mind that MMC cards are much slower than SD cards. Rob was using a MMC card if I remember right and since a SD card is 4 times faster the delay would most likely be in the neighborhood of .5 seconds instead of 2 seconds.

    -Eric
  20. Rob
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       #20  
    Originally posted by Fat_Man
    How big of a program is Bejeweled? The lag time is something that I am concern with. I guess I'm spoiled by the instanteous launch of apps from HS modules.
    That's a good question. Here are the results from some unscientific tests (think 'one one thousand, two one thousand...'):

    App Size Launch delay (auto-copy from card)

    FreeCell 36K 1.1 s
    Bejeweled 52K 2.5 s
    SplashPhoto 70K 3.0 s
    PalmReader 135K 3.5 s
    BugMeMsgr 257K 6.5 s

    I don't know how much you can infer from this, other than larger apps take longer, but the increase is not simply linear in the size of the application.

    NOTE: I'm using a SanDisk 64MB MMC card (supposedly, SD cards are much faster)

    --

    Comparing Handspring's flash memory modules to Palm SD/MMC cards:
    + Run apps directly off of module
    + Read databases directly off of module (specially modified apps can do this with PalmOS 4.0)
    + Faster transfer than MMC (about the same as SD, I think)
    + Handspring version of OS allows you to put module apps in different launcher categories

    - Can't write directly to databases on module (with PalmOS 4.0, apps can be modified to write directly to card)
    - Can't install files directly to flash memory (exception: ThinModem+ can do this)
    - Smaller memory sizes (8MB or 16MB vs. up to 64MB)
    - More expensive ($140 for 16MB flash module vs. <$100 for 64MB MMC card -- although the faster SD cards may be more expensive)
    - Bigger than SD/MMC (although harder to lose/misplace)
    Last edited by Rob; 04/22/2001 at 02:21 AM.
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