Just when everyone is waiting patiently for the official launch of Palm Pre (which is rumored to be 30th April 2009), Palm surprised the whole world again by launching a new personal digital assistant. It has been nearly 4 years since Palm release a new PDA. The last PDA by Palm was Palm TX, which was launched in Oct 2005.
I was fortunate to receive a review unit a few days before the official announcement. I twittered and plurked about it and everyone is excited about this new gadget. But can’t blog about it until today because there is an embargo. I did receive a couple of stares when I used it on the MRT and Starbucks. I guess they must be wondering where did I get that brand new Palm PDA. In fact, I’m the first person in Singapore to review this unit. Cool right? :)
OK, Let’s go straight to the point. Here is the first look at the new PDA from Palm!! **drum roll**
Ta-da! Presenting the Palm III. Nice right? This is the 3rd generation PDA from the successful Palm Pilot series. (A completely different product line from the Palm TX and E2)
There isn’t much change to the operating system. The Palm III is running on PalmOS 3.3. In my opinion, this is the best mobile device operating system ever. The interface is simple and easy to use. You can categorise your applications into different groups for easy reference. There is a drop down box on the top right corner to access your group.
The Palm III is light weight and easy to carry. It is just 11.9 x 8.1 x 1.7 cm big and 170 grams. Slightly bigger than the iPhone, but I don’t mind carrying it around. It fits nicely into your palm. The LED screen supports 1-bit black and white and can display 2-bit greyscale. I love the green backlight which can be turn on by pressing down the power button for 3 seconds. The green backlight makes reading in the dark possible. It’s very cool to turn on the backlight.
There are 4 shortcut buttons on the Palm III. Date Book, Address Book, To Do List and Memo Pad. Basically their functions are the same as most devices out there. One thing to note that you can also categorise all your Date Book, Address Book, To Do List and Memo Pad the same way you categorise your application. This is a great feature if you have a lot of contacts or calendar schedules. And you will have a lot of items on your Palm III. The Palm III now has 2mb of storage. Twice as much as the Palm Pilot. That’s a lot of storage. In fact, I don’t think you’ll ever run out of space. 2mb storage will let you store up to 6000 addresses or 3000 appointments. It’s amazing that such a small device can pack so much information into it. Good thing is that PalmOS has a very good find feature for you to look for stuff you entered in your Palm III.
And if that is not all, you can go online and find new applications and install into your Palm III. The PalmOS is supported by thousands of developers and there are millions of applications available for the PalmOS users. That is why I love the Palm OS platform. The applications extends the capabilities of your Palm III. Sync-ing your Palm III is easy with the Palm Desktop software. All you need to do is to dock your Palm III on the supplied hotsync cradle and press the hotsync button. Palm Desktop will handle all the sync-ing for you. (That’s the beauty of PalmOS) Sync-ing is fast as the Cradle is using a serial port to transfer data to the computer. The Palm Desktop works on Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0 and above. (Minimum 8mb RAM although 16mb is recommended and 12mb Harddisk space) Macintosh compatibility is available separately. You need to purchase a MacPac connection kit.
Text input is via graffiti using the stylish stylus that comes with the device. I love the simplicity of graffiti. Its very easy and elegant to input text on the Palm III. In fact, its a good way to impress gals with your graffiti speed. The Singapore Palm User Group (SPUG) usually conducts a graffiti writing competitions during their meet up. Although I’m good with graffiti, I’m never able to match my speed against those experts. If graffiti is not your cup of tea, then tap on the bottom left corner to bring up the virtual keyboard. (For wussy only)
There is also an email feature. Yes, no joke. What it does is that when you sync your Palm III with your computer (using the great Palm Desktop software), it actually copies your mail into your Palm III so that you can read your email while on the move. You can even reply the email while on the move. Palm III will store your replies on the device and send it out the next time you sync your Palm III with your desktop. Elegant solutions. A great feature for the mobile warrior.
The best feature on the Palm III is the Infrared port. In fact, this is the first PDA with an IR port. There is even a picture on the box that says “Now with infrared!” Cool right? With IR, you can exchange applications with other Palm III owners simply by beaming. Another great usage of the IR port is to beam your personal contact to another device with IR port. All you need to do is to predefine your personal contact, the press and hold the Address Book button for 2 seconds and Palm III will beam your contact using the IR port. A very fast and easy way to exchange personal contact. I’ve tried this out several times at SPUG’s Palm Beaming Gathering (PBG). It’s more environmental friendly than exchanging namecards. (And you will also impress the other onlookers when you point your Palm III towards each other) Inside sources says that all future devices will come with an IR port and will be compatible with the IR on Palm III. Great!
Oh, did I mention that it runs on 2 triple A batteries? Brilliant right? If you run out of juice, just buy new batteries from the stores. No need to worry about running low batt in the middle of the day. Besides, 2 AAA batteries can last you for 2 weeks. But remember, the Palm III needs power to retain it’s memories. It will lose all data if the battery is removed for more than 1 minute. So it is always advisable to sync your Palm III everyday.
The Palm III is an amazing device. I’m sure it is setting the benchmark for all future mobile devices. Don’t be surprise if you see other device interface or design that looks a lot like the Palm III.
The Palm III is on sale now at all Palm Store at US$399.
An great portable device with lots of state of the art features.
Great form factor
Cool looking green backlight
Great Palm OS interface
Easy to use Graffiti
Reading and replying of Emails on the go
Infrared port for exchanging contacts
Date Book, Address Book, To Do List and Memo Pad
Tons of Palm OS applications for you to download
Runs on 2 AAA batteries
Many thanks to Loof lirpa from Palm for sending me this amazing review unit.
Update: In case you still haven’t notice by now, this is also an April Fools joke.