"More gadget than serious business tool"2.5 starson by micromano
Pros: Nice colorful screen, Wi-Fi, email
Cons: Clunky interface, simplicity and appeal of the classic PDA almost gone
Summary: I bought the Palm TX to upgrade from a Palm m515 that I had for three or four years. I upgraded because I’m opening a solo law firm, and I wanted the capability to send/receive email, and occasionally access the web. The larger screen of the TX also looked like a plus, but as I’ll describe later, the screen isn’t larger when in actual use.
I rely heavily on internet reviews now before making purchases. In that spirit, I wanted to pass along my experiences to other people who may be considering the Palm TX. You’re going to see that I repeatedly compare the m515 to the TX because I found the m515 to be a very stable and reliable PDA. I’ve now been working with the TX for the past few days and I’ve really tried to be fair in understanding that it will take a while to get used to the TX.
Pro: The screen is backlit and beautiful. Although my m515 was also backlit, there are more colors available on the TX, and the screen can also be flipped to let you look at things with a landscape portrait. Pictures look better than ever.
Con: The screen is so crowded with buttons and menus, you actually have less viewing area than on previous Palm PDAs. Palm has also put a virtual writing area on the TX screen (as opposed to the permanent grey writing area on previous models). The people at Palm thought this was clever, but it’s very annoying. You find yourself having to constantly open and close the virtual writing surface: Opening it to write, closing it to view things, then opening it again and clicking on a different button to access the little keyboard, etc. It’s tedious. The keyboard also has buttons in odd places (every time I try to press the “shift” button, I accidentally hit the button to access the international keyboard). Palm has also made their graffiti language much more difficult to write. On older PDA’s, you wrote in the number column or the alphabet column. Now, you still have to use the separate columns, but you have to write capital letters in an area overlapping the two. If you miss the totally unmarked area, who knows what character will come up. Palm also thought it was cute to get rid of the idea of a “Caps Lock” button on the keyboard. So if you want to quickly type something in all caps, you have to use a whole different keyboard. It gets very old, very fast, and it makes you wonder if tech companies are still using focus groups to test products. The new interface was designed by a sadist-- a slow and unproductive sadist with carpel tunnel syndrome.
Pro: As with previous models, Palm gives you some decent software on an install disk.
Con: It took me longer to setup and install the Palm software than it took to completely setup my new Dell laptop received the same day. The Palm software has become a little clunky and sketchy. It used to be the most reliable software on my PC, but now I question it. As of today, Palm doesn’t even technically offer software for the TX that is compatible with WinXP. I had to go to the Palm website and “pretend” I was using Win98 in order to download a version of Palm Desktop. Why would a company sell a product incompatible with the software running on most personal and business PCs!?
Pro: The TX allows you to check email and access the internet. The email and internet access really does work as advertised and are pretty amazing. It’s like something out of future. Unlike the main Palm Desktop software, the setup of email and Wi-Fi was painless and very quick. I was surprised.
Con: Internet access is much, much slower than using Wi-Fi on a PC/laptop, and the tiny screen of the TX makes navigating most webpages an effort in futility. That being said, there are some websites with dedicated PDA/smartphone versions, and they work well. I have already used my TX to look for directions, the Yellow Pages, and the latest news. However, in all seriousness, it would be faster for you to call the “movie line” to get showtimes for a movie, or to call a specific business and get directions, than to try and look them up on the TX using the internet.
Pro: The TX has a compact and streamlined USB HotSync cable, and a separate power cable.
Con: Syncing the TX is much, much slower than Syncing my m515. Although I am really only using my TX for the most basic functioning at this point (tasks, contacts, and calendaring), it still takes three times as long to Sync my TX as it did to Sync my m515. This should not be the case.
Pro: The TX came with a free screen protector.
Con: Palm needs to figure out a better system for installing screen protectors, or design replaceable screens. If you don’t get the screen protector on just perfectly, you’ll have fingerprints and/or bubbles under the plastic layer, and you’ll be unable to view or access parts of the screen. It’s a miserable experience that mimics putting a condom over your cell phone, and then trying to dial using buttons you can’t see.
Pro: The TX has a central “navigation” button.
Con: The navigation button is almost totally useless. In almost every Palm application, you need the stylus at some point. Having the navigation button doesn’t speed anything up. I would prefer that they have used the space for an additional button to allow quick access to the tasks/to do lists.
Pro: The TX allows you to listen to music and view videos.
Con: There is no voice recorder so there is no way to record a short memo while driving, or record a meeting. Palm deliberately left this out as a marketing tool to force people into the more expensive LifeDrive. Also, with respect to the MP3/video player, I bought this as a business device and I’m not going to sit like some idiot and listen to/watch rap or techno all day. Even if I did so choose, I would buy the Apple iPod Shuffle because I would want the simplicity of the Apple user interface. What are you going to do: Put the TX in the sweaty pocket of your running shorts and then stop every block to pull it out and wade through endless menus and toolbars with the stylus to select new songs? Good luck.
In a nutshell, I would recommend the TX only because it’s a decent PDA with email and internet access for under $300. The internet and email functions really do work as advertised, but the classic Palm PDA is nearly dead. The interface is cluttered and confusing and I’m not just throwing that out there as if I’m some 80-year-old technophobe curmudgeon. I like useful technology to the extent it makes me more productive. But I sincerely miss the absolute simplicity, reliability and sheer effectiveness of previous Palm PDAs. I remember having the m100 and even today it would do 90% of what I need a PDA to do. If you are on a budget, or can live without Wi-Fi and email, I would highly recommend you select an older Palm PDA.