PalmTX as laptop replacement (review pt. 2)

I bought the TX for e-mail and web access during my Europe trip, here's my thoughts.

A major reason for my purchase of the TX was that I wanted an easy way to check e-mail and surf the web without having to lug a heavy (and hard to replace) laptop around on my Europe trip.

How did the TX perform? Pretty well. Almost as well as I had hoped it would.

The benefits:
1) I had no problem finding and connecting to 802.11b networks and was surprised to find them everywhere we stayed, including St. Remy in Provence (thanks Biscuit, Biscuit for the free wi-fi!)
2) It was no problem carrying it around, the protective case that I got with it was much heavier than it was and even with that case, it fit into an inside pocket in my coat
3) The battery lasted long enough to take care of stuff in the cases where I had to leave my hotel room to get wi-fi.
4) The web program and e-mail program worked o.k. and a lot of stuff was reasonable even on the small screen
5) Nice to have some games to pass the time.

The problems:
1) A bug in the blazer web browser made it impossible to load some php pages which made it impossible to sign up for our hotel's wi-fi in Nice
2) The 802.11b connector would disconnect from the network to save power if you hadn't used it for a minute or so. This was a super pain in the ass because we had a card with a super long code we had to type in every time we connected to the wi-fi in our hotel in Paris.
3) The mail program got confused on which mail it had downloaded and which mail it hadn't, leading to multiple downloads of the same mail.
4) Not enough memory to make the video player or audio player features worth-while
5) too hard to compose long messages with Graffiti
6) Bug in the mail program where you can't easily delay message sending until you are connected.

I've had many PIMs over the years, but I've never really stuck with any. I don't really need constant access to my information or whatever, so now that the trip is over, I'm not sure what I'll use the Palm for. I can let you know that the "Speaking Language Translator" isn't really worth your money. Not that it doesn't work, but mostly, you aren't going to whip it out in the middle of a conversation with a shop keeper, so it isn't really that useful.

The one thing which I did absolutely miss from my laptop was the ability to play movies. The TX doesn't have enough memory (and big MMC cards are prohibitively expensive). It would have been cool to be able to watch some pre-recorded TV shows or movies from home sometimes.

Most of the biggest pains we had with the TX where in its software. I couldn't find a way to configure the network to stay connected until I disconnect it manually which is really painful if you have a code you have to enter in each time you connect to a network. The php bug in the web browser made it impossible to load some pages. The bug in the mail program made it annoying to compose mail while not connected to a network. We had to save our messages to the draft folders and then when we connected to a network, edit each "draft" message so that we could send it. It would be a lot easier if stuff got saved in your outbox when you were connected until you did get connected.

Would I recommend this as a laptop replacement for other travelers trying to keep the crap to a minimum? Absolutely. If you were planning on keeping your pals at home updated on your travels with extended e-mails though, I would absolutely recommend one of the portable keyboards. That would have saved us a lot of headache.

Posted: Sat - May 6, 2006 at 03:41 PM           |