Category Archive: PalmOS PDA Tips

May 01

PDAs: A Year With The Palm Z22

In my article, "PDAs: Back To Basics", I outlined my plan to attempt to simplify some things in my life, and one key area was my PDA use. Having the latest and greatest PDA was always my goal. I couldn’t get enough of the new features and capabilities that the newer PDA’s offered. Yet over time, I found that of the many amazing and cool features, most either went unused or were just plain distracting–distracting to the point of sucking up valuable time that could otherwise be used for more productive things. So I opted for the Palm Z22 to see if its limited feature set could help me to simplify my PDA use.

Well, it’s been just over a year since I moved to the Palm Z22, and so far, I’ve not looked back. The Z22 has proved to be a very useful and solid PDA, and has served my goal of simplifying things. Is it limited? Yes. Do I wish it had more features? Yes. Is it doing what I had hoped it would do? Yes! Read on to see how the Palm Z22 has fared, what I would like to see added to future models, and what are my future PDA plans….

It’s about a year later, I’m still using the Z22, and I have no regrets. I find it to be an amazingly powerful, useful, and productive PDA. Yes, I’ve been stung on occasion by some of its limitations, (notably, its incompatibility with a few applications) but overall, it’s been a very positive experience. I’ve honed my original list of installed applications to a solid set that works well for me. In fact, I just realized that it has literally been several months since I even installed anything new! For example, after having a couple "issues" with mNotes, I decided to just sync my PIM with the Palm Desktop and not worry about it. True, it no longer syncs with Lotus Notes, but I have access to Lotus Notes at work all the time. It turns out that almost all Palm-related alarms and appointments tend to be personal ones, so for me, it’s very manageable.

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Some might see my move to the Z22 as an "innovative step backwards" but the reality is that I no longer focus on the nuances "of the device"–I just use it. While the imposed limitations of the Z22 can be both a blessing and a curse, so far, the positives far outweigh the negatives. There are a couple things I wish were improved (see below) but these limitations haven’t drawn me away from it.

Combined with the Palm Air Case, my Z22 is completely front-pocketable. This has been key to its usefullness because after all, if you can’t take it with you, you can’t use it, right? And because I almost always have it with me, there’s no no real excuse not to use it.

So, am I more productive?
Well, that’s debatable! The time I used to spend tweaking, adjusting, and playing with the extra features of my other PDA’s has definitely gone down. I rarely tweak the Z22 simply because I don’t need to. In fact, the it has truly become an appliance–it’s just there when I need it, and doesn’t get in the way. And that extra time can certainly be spent on more productive things. Obviously it’s what I do with that extra time that determines my productivity!

Unfortunately, I’m not the most organized person, and it is a continuous struggle for me to manage priorities and general organization. But now, at least I can’t attribute that to a PDA–it’s a personal issue. I’m slowly learning better organizational skills, and trying to pick up better habits. But the fact that I’m no longer distracted "by the device" means that I can at least spend that time elsewhere.

Some Wishes
No assessment of the Z22 would be complete without recommendations for improvements. After all, this PDA is not a feature-rich one. Amazingly, I have but two feature requests in improving the Z22 which, to be effective, would have to come without impacting performance or battery life:

1. SD Memory Card Slot
Believe it or not, after a year using the Z22, I have about 3.9MB free RAM. This is actually slightly more than when I started using the Z22! The limited amount of RAM and no memory expansion has been key to maintaining its simplicity by forcing me to limit the applications I use. But I admit that there are times that I wish it had an SD card slot. I would like to be able to have access to additional data and to be able to backup the system RAM. But is this a "must have" feature? No. But then again….

2. High-Resolution Screen
I find the Z22′s screen to be its biggest area of potential improvement. The 160×160 color screen is adequate, and that’s about it. It displays PIM data well, and overall, PalmOS applications are readable and usable. But it’s simply not stunning or impressive. But coolness aside, its readability could be improved. I’d like to see the screen replaced with a full, high-resolution screen extending into the Graffiti area as on newer PalmOS models. It would certainly be easier on the eyes. Fortunately, this is not a huge deal, but it does detract from the overall feel and readability.

And on a side note, when is someone going to come out with a decent color LCD screen that will look great in both office lighting and in bright sunlight? PDA’s suffer from this. Cell phones suffer from this. It’s simply annoying that when I go outside, the the screens become completely useless. I was playing around with an old Palm III the other day, and remembered just how readable the monochrome PalmOS PDA’s were in bright light. OK, so they weren’t high resolution and they weren’t color, but man, were they sure functional!

The future
Will I be replacing the Z22? Will I revert back to an older model? As it stands, the Z22 has really served its original purpose of simplicity well. I’m not saying that the Z22 is the best PDA out there for everyone, but half the battle in simplifying was buying into the concept that less features and imposed limitations would help in simplifying things. And for me, it worked. Other than the couple features I wish it had, I’m truly impressed with the Z22′s performance, capabilities, usefulness, and portability.

So, I don’t foresee purchasing a new PDA or reverting to an old one any time soon. This comes at an interesting time too, because I feel that the whole PDA world has really slowing down in favor of the Smart Phone and integration. Unfortunately, I don’t see much in real innovation happening in the PDA world, so an improved Z22 probably isn’t likely. That said, should Palm decide to release an improved Z22 with a full high-resolution screen and an SD card slot for a reasonable price, I’ll buy it in a heart beat. But until then, I’ll stick with my Z22!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/pdas-a-year-with-the-palm-z22

Apr 19

PDAs: Palm Z22 Review

I’ve been trying to simplify my life, and one area is in my use of PDAs. I realized that my PDA use tends to have more to do with tweaking and trying to make the device work better than actually using it as a productivity tool. (See my article "PDAs: Back To The Basics".)

So, after some pondering and research, I decided to "step down" to a Palm Z22 PDA. After a couple weeks of use, I have to say that I just love it! No, it’s not feature-packed like other high-end PDAs on the market–in fact, it’s much simpler in design and function. But that was my goal: to simplify. Read on for a review of this fine PDA….

In my "PDAs: Back To The Basics" article, I explained the benefits of the slimmed-down Z22 PDA, but here, I’m going to get into more of the technical details, including features (or lack thereof), what I dislike, and what I like about the Z22. I’m also going to detail the applications that I have installed. Hopefully, you will come to appreciate its simplicity.

The Palm Z22 is Palm’s latest entry-level PDA offering targeted at those who have never used PDAs. But I contend that its usefulness is not limited to the PDA novice. While it is definitely not feature-packed like Palm’s latest Tungsten TX, or LifeDrive, it captures the simplicity of Palm’s original PDA concepts with some nice 21st century enhancements. And at under $100.00, you get decent features that won’t break the bank.

OK, let’s get to some specifics….

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Construction

The Z22′s case construction is all plastic. Most recent PDAs tend to be mostly metal-cased, so I was a bit unsure about this. It does, however, appear to be very sturdy. After flexing and squeezing it a bit, it seems to be solid. In looks, it looks somewhat like an iPOD from the front with a sleek, smooth white face. giving it a very modern look. The back is a semi-clear blue plastic reminiscent of the iMac. Its design is very curvy, and it fits in the hand nicely. It’s sturdier than I expected for such a low-priced PDA.

On the top is a sub-mini USB connector for HotSyncing, and a holder for the stylus.

On the back is a reset button that is flush to the back surface that is large enough for the stylus tip–no more bent paperclips!

Buttons

The buttons are large and flush to the face of the Z22 with small depressions making it easy to feel. The 5-way navigator pad is a round ring with a select button in the middle. Overall, the buttons feels very good, and there are responsive.

Of significant note is that Palm reduced the number of buttons on the Z22 from most other models. There is a power button, 2 hard application buttons (set to launch the Calendar and Contacts apps, but user-configurable) and the 5-way nav pad…that’s it. If you rely on more buttons, you will be disappointed. However, I did find an excellent workaround in the Hi-Launcher application. See below for details. The limited number of buttons actually simplifies use.

Screen Protection

Like many seasoned PDA users, I’m always concerned with the screen becoming scratched or broken, so some sort of case is definitely needed. The Z22 comes with no case or cover. I have always been partial to Belg Designs’ Leather Flip Case with Belt Clip, but it does boost the geek-rating a bit, requiring you to hang your PDA on your belt. It’s an excellent case, though. I am also partial to Proporta’s Crystal Case for the Palm T3–I simply love it, and I recommend that case in a heartbeat. UnfUnfortunatelyroporta does not offer a Crystal Case for the Z22, and I really don’t want a PDA hanging on my belt.

I discovered that Palm offers a hard, clear "Air Case" that reminds me of Proporta’s Crystal Case offerings. (See my review of the Air Case here.) The Air Case is not as robust as Proporta’s Crystal Cases, but it is still a decent case for the price of under $15.00. The combination of the Palm Z22 and the Palm Air Case really makes for a sleek, pocketable PDA that provides excellent, simple features.

Palm Air Case  Z22 in the Air Case 
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Palm does include a thin screen protector that will help prevent scratching. It sticks to the screen, and is easily removable and replaceable.

Size

Wow…this sucker is small! The Z22 makes other Palm PDAs seem huge by comparison, yet it fits my hand nicely, and is easy to hold. For a size comparison (at least the screen anyway) a look at the included Screen Protector: compare the outline of the Z22 to the rest, and yes, it is Palm’s smallest yet. This kind of takes me back to the Palm V days with its sleek lines, slim form factor, and small size. The size of the Z22 certainly doesn’t disappoint–in fact, it’s one of its assets.

But what did palm pack into the minuscule Z22? Surprisingly, a lot….

Memory

Compared to most other PDAs, the Z22′s 20MB of memory seems minuscule. While it has been a challenge to decide which applications are "necessary" and which are not, it turns out that 20MB really provides lots of space with room to spare. It is so easy to fill it up, (especially if you have amassed hundreds of Palm applications over a decade!) but the challenge was to decide what’s important and what’s not, so eventually, I installed those applications and data files that I really needed. It left me with over 3.5MB of free space! (I’ll detail this later on in this article.)

Screen

OK, this could be the Achilles heel of the Z22 for some people. First, understand that I’m VERY used to Hi-resolution devices, so "stepping back" to a 160×160 screen was very difficult at first. But you know, it really isn’t that bad. Most PalmOS applications are written to accommodate a standard 160×160 screen, so most applications run and look just fine.

That said, there are some notable incompatibilities. The big ones for me is Mobi-Systems’ Mobile Office Pro and AstraWare’s Bejeweled 2. They are designed for high-resolution screens only, and that’s that. So I’m back to using Documents To Go and Bejeweled. While it is disappointing given my investment in both, this is not a major issue considering my stated goal of simplicity.

The next issue is "color bleeding". Colors have a tendency to bleed a bit displaying visible lines of color extending down the screen. I guess the good news is that this is only really noticeable on screens that have lots of color elements. Most productivity applications where the majority of screen information is text, it’s notnoticeablee. It would be nice however, if the screen did not do this. Sure, I would really like to see a high-resolution screen on the Z22 form factor, but given my simplicity goals, it’s turning out to be not really necessary.

Finally, the Z22′s screen is virtually unreadable in sunlight. I really wish it had a screen that would be more visible in sunlight (and South Carolina sun is b-r-i-g-h-t!) Of course, the Z22 isn’t the only LCD-equipped consumer device that’s unreadable in the sun.

Speed

The Z22′s 200MHz processor is pretty peppy. I only notice "lag" when moving from one application to another, and mostly when launching an application that hasn’t been launched in a while. This is a departure from Palm’s very typically snappy application switching. My guess is that the Z22 is caching applications, and if the application you want to run isn’t cached, then there’s a slight "load lag". This, no doubt, likely has more to do with the Z22′s use of NVRAM than with the processor itself.

It is a bit unnerving just seeing a blank white screen for several seconds before app displays, but for most
people, this won’t be that noticeable. The Z22 ran all applications I have thrown at it quickly. After using other high-end Palm PDAs, the Z22 isnoticeablyy slower on some counts, but overall, it doesn’t make you wait.

Installed Applications:

Below is a list of the applications that I currently have installed. This provides me with the "essential" applications and data I need, along with some minor superfluous applications, (I know, I know, simplicity, Jim….) All that leaves me with just over 3MB of free memory space. I had to really strip things down to get to this point, but then again, that was my goal. I simply kept asking myself, "Do I truly need this application"? I could still remove some, but for now, I’m satisfied.

Stock PIM apps
I decided to forgo all third-party PIM replacements (with one exception), specifically Pimlico Software’s DateBK5. This is an excellent application, and its features are rich, but I want to give the stock PIM applications a chance, hoping that they will work well for me. So far, I’m finding them to be robust and effective, especially the Calendar app.

LifeBalance
This is the one exception as a third-party PIM replacement app that I’m demoing. LifeBalance is a very interesting application. When I first tried it, I simply didn’t get it, so I dismissed it. But since understanding David Allen’s "Getting Things Done" concepts, I get it, and I find it to be invaluable. LifeBalance’s design is, in my opinion, how Palm’s Tasks app should be. LifeBalance is a simple, yet effective way of managing lots of "Next Actions" and "Contexts". Its implementation is very well thought-out, and I think I’ll put this to good use.

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mNotes
This is an essential application for syncing my Palm with Lotus Notes at work.

ZLauncher
ZLauncher has a large footprint, but it’s what I’m used to, and I have always loved this launcher. Zlauncher is a complex application launcher, but it can be configured down to a quite minimal, simple form. It’s also nice to know that there are a number of features (like a File Manager) under the hood should I need them.
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Hi-Launcher
Hi-Launcher is an application that I purchased long, long ago, and until recently really had no use for. But after installing it on my Z22, I find it to be completely invaluable! Hi-Launcher easily makes up for the reduced number of hard buttons on the Z22. I configured it to "trigger" when I press the hard Contacts button. It pops up a concise list of my favorite and recent applications. It’s fully navigable with the 5-way nav pad, so no stylus is ever needed. I highly recommend this application for Z22 all users!
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Palm’s Calculator
This simple included calculator has a lot of nice, hidden functions…if you know how to find them. I had no idea that you could enable an Advanced mode through the Options menu! The advanced mode adds decent math, finance, statistics, and conversion functions that most people should find very usable. Unless you have specialized needs, there’s really no need for any third-party calculators.
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MyBible
MyBible is an excellent Bible reference application that works very well on the Z22. I installed the KJV and Life Application Notes files. This took up a HUGE amount of space–over 9MB–but it is important to me to have this. Book access is quick, especially with the 5-way nav pad, and searches are as fast as any Palm PDA model.
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HandStory
I find HandStory to be the easiest and quickest way to get text data into my Palm. My method may be a kludge, but it works very well and very quickly for me: Copy any text from any source, paste it into the UltraEdit text editor, clean it up as needed, copy the text, and convert using HandStory to a Palm DOC file which auto-installs on next HotSync. It’s fast & simple, and the reader app is top-notch. (One caveat: Handstory is not 100% 5-way nav compatible in its list screen.)
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Frotz
OK, this is completely superfluous, but I admit it: I love to poke around in Zork 1, 2, and 3! Frotz lets you play old Infocom text adventure games. Yes, this really dates me, but sometimes, gamies in the mind are more exciting than gamies seen with the eyes.
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Klondike
Everyone has to have a portable card game, and this version of Klondike has been my favorite for many years. This version of Klondike is rock solid, and is very configurable. Yes, there are other card programs with many more gamies, but this is simple and fun!
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Monopoly
Capitalism on a Zen device! What more can I say? Well, I can say that Monopoly plays well on the Z22. The colors are great, game play is quick, and it’s lots of fun.
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SuLite One
Yes, I too caught the Sudoku bug. SuLite One is a great, free Sudoku implementation that is surprisingly configurable. It’s great for burning time (when it’s appropriate, of course!) and it’s very playable on a 160×160 screen.
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PixMarker
I love to doodle, and PixMakrer is my favorite doodling app for the Palm. Though I have to admit that I really miss the larger, hi-resolution screen for this one.
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Things I Don’t Like

OK, those are the technical points about the Z22. Here are some things that I do not like about the Z22. None are deal-breakers for me, but they may be for some.

Brightness/Contrast Setting
When you reset the Z22 (either by selecting a software reset from an app like ZLauncher or pressing the reset button on the back) the screen brightness and contrast revert to factory defaults. This might be desirable for some, but I find it annoying. Of course, the reality is that we shouldn’t have to reset that often…

Sound Volume
Sound on the Z22 is not as loud as I would like it to be. Its alarm is not that loud, though I can hear it–probably due to a decade of familiarity with the standard Palm alarm sound. I really wish it would be louder. Aren’t alarms supposed to be annoying–enough to
actually get your attention?

Older Security Screens
Come on, Palm. You’ve produced countless incarnations of the PalmOS, and yet the Z22 doesn’t have the nice PIN-pad security screen that the Tungsten T3′s security update provides. The Z22′s security screen is a big step backward requiring a stylus for entry. How tough could it have been to implement something a bit more modern?

I’m demoing the AppLock program, and it looks really slick, yet simple to at least provide application locking with easy key entry. Yes, there are other Palm security suites out there, but for simplicity, AppLock seems to be just what I need. Check it out!

Screen
As mentioned above, the screen could be better. Some have complained about getting headaches after looking at it for a long time, but fortunately this hasn’t been an issue for me. A crisper, high-resolution screen that is viewable in the sunlight would be an nice upgrade.

Things I like about the Z22

Now for the good stuff. There are lots of things about the Z22 that i really like.

Battery life
So far, battery life is excellent. It very well might be measured in weeks as opposed to hours. In agreement with another review that I read, the short time connected to my PC via its USB cable during a HotSync (maybe 10-15 minutes) seems to be more than enough to "top off" the battery to full charge. This is a huge boon in that I no longer have to worry about battery life. With regular use, it looks like the batter will last much longer than most modern models.

Brightness/Contrast Setting
While I listed this as a negative, one positive point is that the brightness setting has a simple 2-level setting: Low and High. I find the High setting to be perfect for normal daytime use, and the Low setting great at night in low light conditions. Do we really need the granular brightness control of other models?

Calendar
The Calendar application now has a nice Agenda view. It’s not as configurable as say, DateBk6, but it certainly works well, presenting upcoming appointments and tasks. It’s uncluttered, and very effective fitting in with my simplicity goals.

One-Handed Navigation
Being able to navigate an application without having to pull out a stylus is very nice. Either I never really noticed it, or it just wasn’t as robust, but no other PalmOS PDA I have ever owned had the depth of really decent 5-way navigator integration like the Z22 has. I can navigate almost any application with just the 5-way navigator pad, and it’s intuitive. It works very well with all the stock apps, and most third-party apps I have tried. Major kudos to Palm for getting this right!

USB HotSync Cable
My first reaction to this was "Oh great, yet another HotSync connector that’s again incompatible with every other one Palm has introduced in the past." While this may be technically true, the fact that it’s a standard sub-mini USB connector means that I can HotSync with any standard sub-mini USB cable (most geeks have several lying around.) HotSyncing is quick and effortless like most Palm models. No, there isn’t a nice cradle to put it into, but then again, my Z22 should either be in my hand being used, or in my pocket so I don’t forget to take it with me. I have left other Palms in their cradles too often.

Stability
So far, the Z22 has been very solid. The only reason I’ve had to reset has been when I try to push it too far with less-than-stable applications. I did have to do a hard reset at one point, but it was my fault. I tried to install the above mentioned Security patch from the T3, and the Z22 simply didn’t like it. No file manager I tried would delete it, so I had to resort to doing a hard reset. But a simple HotSync after the hard reset restored everything back to where I needed it to be.

Conclusion

For my stated purpose of simplicity, the Z22 really can’t be beat. It is powerful enough to handle essential applications, yet it’s limitations force you to make important decisions as to just what applications are really essential. No, it’s not feature-packed, and it won’t win any awards for advanced designs, but it is what it is, and it does it well. The sleek, pocketable design, really shines.

For people who have never tried out PDAs, the Z22 is an inexpensive way to jump into the PDA world without breaking the bank. For power users who are expecting a power PDA, you will be disappointed–look elsewhere. But I believe that any user, power or otherwise, who wants to have a decent PDA while maintaining a level of simplicity, may find the Z22 to be the answer.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/pdas-palm-z22-review

Apr 17

PDAs: Clear Protection For Your Z22

I have always been a proponent of cases for PDA’s. I figure that if I spend a lot of money on the PDA, I might as well invest in a case protect it. I stumbled upon Palm’s Air Case, and though I don’t think it’s as robust as Proporta’s Crystal Cases (my cases of choice), it does the job, and the price can’t be beat. Read on for a quick review of Palm’s Air Case for the Z22….

Out of the box, the Z22 comes with no case or screen cover, so for me, finding a decent case was essential. I have been partial to the Flip Case with Clip from Bellagio Designs, and lately, I highly recommended the Crystal Case for the T3 from Proporta. I find the Crystal case to be solid, and very protective. Unfortunatly, Proporta doesn’t make a Crystal Case for the Z22, so I had to look elsewhere. I purchased Palm’s Air Case from Office Depot, and I was quite surprised by its design and function.

The Air Case is a clear plastic case that completely covers the Z22, and has a "flip" cover on the front. Conceptually, it reminds me of an old style Start Trek communicator, but clear. It has holes for the USB HotSync connector, the Stylus silo, and the Reset button on the back. Otherwise, it is a complete protective cover. The Air Case is claimed to be made of the same material from which they make safety glasses, so it should offer great protection.

 

 Palm’s Air Case The Z22 in the Air Case 
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The Air Case only adds a couple mm to the Z22′s overall dimensions, and adds negligible weight. It is very lightweight, yet seems to be pretty solid. I fits fairly snugly on the Z22. I say fairly snugly, because it doean’t fit quite as tightly as the Proporta Crystal case did onto my Tungstern T3. And flexing the Air Case does reveal that it is a bit flimsier than the Crystal cases, too. But it stays in place, feels good in the hand, and I am confident that the screen and body will be protected when I slip it into my front pants pocket. (I personally will never put any electronic device in my back pocket, because I feel it’s just too risky.)

Some other reviews of the Air Case have complained about its difficult-to-open flip cover. After snapping in my Z22 and closing the cover, opening it really wasn’t really that tough. It reminds my opening a CD case–it is slightly tricky at first, but once you open it once or twice, it’s simple. Same goes for the Air Case.

Another complaint in some other reviews was that the Air Case scratches easily making it harder to see the screen. Well, because none of the Z22′s buttons are accessible while the flip cover is closed, it’s highly unlikely that you will be actually using the Z22 with the flip cover closed. I find this concern to be a bit too picky. Further, I’d much rather have the Air Case scratch up than my Z22, that’s for sure! But people do have different priorities.

I did accidentally drop my Palm from about 2 feet onto a brick floor, and aside from the Air Case’s flip cover coming off, there was no scratching or damage to either the Z22 or the Air Case. (And the flip cover snapped right back on without issue.)

Overall, I think the Air Case is a great choice to provide inexpensive, solid protection for the Z22. It’s definitely not a Proporta-quality case, but then again, it’s available for under $15.00.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/pdas-clear-protection-for-your-z22

Apr 17

PDAs: Back To The Basics

A recent article on Palm247.com discussed moving to the Palm Z22 as a method of simplifying things got me thinking about just how I use my PDA. I have been reading David Allan’s book "Getting Things Done" (GTD), and it has prompted some serious pondering about the fact that so many things in my life are simply way too complicated. I’m trying to make "simplicity" my new mantra, and one area of complexity that I have noticed is my use of my Palm PDA. Read on to see how I have simplified by PDA use by embracing a more simple PDA

I am a long-time user and proponent of PDAs with my first being a Casio "Zoomer" PDA way back in 1993.

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The Casio Zoomer was an amazing PDA that was unfortunatly overshadowed by the Apple Newton’s popularity. Interestingly, the Zoomer had an optional version of the Graffiti handwriting recognition software which was later incorporated into all PalmOS devices.

In 1996, I next purchased Palm’s original Pilot 1000 sold by US Robotics:

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"In the day" the Pilot 1000 was a stunning, amazing device. Its power through simplicity reigned through quite a number of succeeding Palm’s models. But then something happened: feature overload. Along came color screens, expansion slots, MP3 playback, photo and video capture, video playback, Bluetooth, WiFi, phone integration, internal hard drives…the list goes on.

I then progressed through these PDA’s:

Palm iii Palm Vx Sony NX70V
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Palm Tungsten T3 Palm Tungsten C
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While the added features are certainly high on the cool scale, I consistently find that I’m simply not using most of these extended features. Some features are certainly quite useful, (I find a nice color screen to be nuch more readable than the original monochrome screens) but I find that most are simply not "essentials", and I never use them.

So this got me thinking about what features do I really need, and what features are just "fluff" that serve as nothing but distractions? And that’s important to me, because I find myself very easily distracted "by the device" instead of actually productively "using the device." In trying to achieve more simplicity, I decided to choose a device that would provide the functions I need while providing few extras so as not to be distracted from real productivity. So, I decided to take the plunge and convert from the gee-wiz, feature-laden Palm Tungsten T3 to Palm’s latest "entry level model", the Z22.

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So far, I have no regrets!

I’m not going to review the Z22 here–I’m covering that in greater depth in another article–but I am going to explain how some of the Z22′s features (or lack thereof!) are turning out to be very useful and productive.

Size

The first item of note is the Z22′s size. Wow! This is the smallest PalmOS PDA (save the wristwatch version) and I really find it stunning. Everything is proportioned nicely, and it looks very slick (kind of "iPod-ish".) It fits in my hands very well, and it is very front-pocketable. The simple fact that I can easily pocket the Z22 means that I’m more likely to have it with me, and I’ll be more likely to use it productively. While I was never ashamed of proudly sporting a large, belt-clipped PDA, being able to comfortably pocket the Z22 certainly draws less attention, and really reduces the overall Geek Factor.

Memory

The next item of note is the Z22′s limited memory. While 20MB can certainly hold a lot of data, coming down from a T3 with 58MB of space and my added 256MB SD card was difficult. The Z22′s 20MB seemed, at first glance, paltry. But let’s remember my goal: Simplicity. Over the last decade, I have amassed a large collection of PalmOS applications, so this presented an excellent opportunity to re-assess just what applications would be useful, productive, and non-distracting. The end result is that I now have all of the applications and data that I need with over 3MB free space to spare! I’ll detail my setup below….

Screen

The final item of note is the Z22′s screen. After owning several high-resolution PalmOS PDAs, I thought that reverting back to a 160×160 screen would be huge step backward. It turns out that I was dead wrong. The colors render just fine, and I can very easily view all the information I need to view in any of the installed applications without any problems. No, I won’t be showing off high-resolution photos or videos, but remember the goal of simplicity. I simply don’t a high-resolution screen to be productive with it. My only real complaint is that there is some "bleeding" on the screen, and text is definitely not as sharp as a high-resolution screen, but it is very functional, and surprisingly pleasing to look at.

As a side note, I do want to address PDA "protection". Out of the box, the Z22 comes with no case or screen cover. I’ve always been a proponent of PDA cases, so I purchased Palm’s Air Case. The Air Case is a clear plastic case that completely covers the Z22, and has a "flip" cover on the front. It’s made of the same material from which they make safety glasses, so it offers great protection, especially when in your pocket. You can read a more detailed review of the Air Case <>. This combination really can’t be beat for form and function.

Applications

So what do I have installed? Remember that my goal was to strip back all of the superfluous stuff that caused me distractions and prevented me from being really productive with my PDA. So, I assessed that I had, and came up with the following list of applications that I find to be functional and useful:

ZLauncher
(Zhangzhe Technology)
While this application could go somewhat against the "simplicity" concept because of its actual complexity, it provides form and function that I really like, and it integrates some essential tools that I find indispensible (notably, file management.) Its rich feature set, though complex, can be tailored down to a fairly minimal view that is functional, pleasing, and doesn’t distract.

Hi-Launcher
(RNS::)
I purchased this popup launcher long, long ago and haven’t used in a while, but on the Z22, I’m finding it to be invaluable! I assigned it to "trigger" when pressing the Contacts (right) hard button, so I now have one-touch access to my most-used apps. No more fumbling with the stylus to launch a quickly-needed app. This really more than makes up for the limited number of hard buttons on the Z22. Regardless of what launcher app you use, I highly recommend this one! UPDATE: This is an essential. I use it daily, and it has proven to be a true gem of an application!

PIM
(Palm)
Surprisingly, I find the native PIM applocations to be exceptionally useful. I have been a long-time user and proponent of Pimlico Software’s DateBk, but I find that the installed PIM applications have evolved into surprisingly robust applications that do almost all I need. For example, the Calendar’s "Agenda" view provides an at-a-glance list of upcoming appointments and pending Tasks which, though concise, looks great on the 160×160 screen.

LifeBalance
(LlamaGraphics)
This is a very interesting application that I am demoing. When I first looked at this program, it was confusing and not very useful to me–I just didn’t get it. But after finally understanding the GTD methods, this application makes total sense. In fact, its execution is really how Palm’s Tasks application should work. I’m still demoing it, so we’ll see where I go with it long-term….UPDATE: I find that though LifeBalance is an excellent application (and I really wish some of its functionality could be rolled into Palm’s PIM) I I reverted to using Tasks and Memos to handle things. The main reason is synchronizing: Having everything sync with Lotus Notes or Outlook keeps things consolidated and simple. Having to maintain data in yet another Windows application reduces my productivity.
.

MyBible
(Laridian)
I installed the KJV and Life Application Notes files, and they take up a HUGE amount of space–over 9MB! But, it is important to me to have this, so I’m willing to devote the space.

mNotes
(Common Time)
mNotes is essential for syncing the Z22 with Lotus Notes at work. For Outlook users, other excellent solutions exist.

Note Studio
(Dogmelon)
I am demoing this application to see if it will be useful for me for taking and maintaining notes. It provides a simple interface with a Wiki-like structure that could me manage notes efficiently. It’s kinda pricy, but its power through simplicity might prove very userful. UPDATE: I decided that maintaining memos works just fine. Though I do Wish that Memos had wiki-like links, in trying to simplify, it’s a level of complexity that I simply don’t find useful at this time.

Other Applications
I also have several other useful applications and some small games to kill time when I’m waiting in a line or trying to fall asleep. (Come on, you have to have some diversion!)

The Benefits

I find two main "features" that will benefit me in moving to the Z22: Design limitiations and size. Accepting the imposed design limitations has made me re-think how I use a PDA. It’s no longer the photo-displaying, video-playing, information grabbing, gameing, wireless data repository behemoth that I used to have. It’s now a lean productivity device that I can use and trust. And because the Z22 is so easily pocketable and easy to use, I’ll have it with me all the time, and I’ll be more likely to use it.

I am hoping that combining these benefits will give me a device that I can truely consider to be my "trusted place" to keep my thoughts, ideas, tasks, actions, etc. You see, one of the key GTD concepts is to get all of that "stuff" you constantly think about, dwell on, and juggle around in your head, out of your head and into a "trusted place" so that you don’t have to waste time and effort keeping track of it all. For me, a solid, simple PDA just might be the technical solution I have been looking for. Of course, being successful with GTD concepts means understanding that the solution is never in the divice or method itself, but how you implement and actually use it.

Conclusion

While I cannot say that the Z22 is the solution to simplification, I can say that in moving to the Z22, my PDA use has become simpler and easier–and I like it. I believe that "power users" should take a step back from time to time to assess just what they really use in their PDAs. I think they would be surprised at what is useful and what is not. And at under $100.00, it’s not that steep a price to pay to try out a Z22.

Update: 2006-04-18

I received an email from Mike Rohde of rohdesign.com , and it seems that moving back to more simpler PDAs just may be a new trend! Check out Mike’s article about how he transitioned from a lost Zire 72 to a Sony Clie N610C.

If anyone has any stories of their own about intentionally moving to simpler PDAs, let em know, and I’ll add a link here to your article!

Update: 2006-12-11

I’m really liking the Z22, and I find that I’m simply not craving the bells and whistles I used to have. Yes, there are times when I miss my Clie’s camera. Yes, I sometimes miss the Tungsten C’s keyboard. Yes, I miss the SD card memory expansion. And yes, I do wish it had a high-resolution screen. But you know, the Z22 really gives me what I need, and I don’t find its simplicity limiting. And I’m still amazed by its excellent pocketablilty.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/pdas-back-to-the-basics

Feb 23

T3 Tip #6: Resurrecting a Dead Palm Tungsten T3

The other day, I went to turn on my Palm Tungstern T3, and it was dead, and I mean D-E-A-D. No combination of charging, resets, etc. would bring it back to life. I posted a message at www.1src.com (an excellent PalmOS forum) and found some suggestions and links. Fortunately, opening the T3 and re-seating the battery connector did the trick, so a replacement battery was unnecessary, but if I did have to replace the battery, it would have been an easy task. Read on for some links and information about disassembling and resurrecting a dead Palm Tungsten T3…

I did a Google Search on Palm T3 Disassemble or Palm T3 Disassembly and got a number of good hits. I found the following links to be very useful:

http://www.pspilot.de/ppptun3/ppptun3.html
http://www.pidcock.co.uk/pda/tungsten-repair.html
http://www.gethightech.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=GHT&Category_Code=_tungsten_takeapart

If your battery is completely unusable, go to http://www.PDAParts.com , where they have a huge selection of PDA replacement parts.

A couple notes:

1. You only need a simple, small Philips screwdriver to disassemble the T3. No need for a Torx driver (which is required for the T5….)

2. Have patience and be careful. The parts are small, and you don’t want to break anything. The good news, though, is that once opened up, there is a logic about how things are connected, and it’s very simple to locate the proper connections.

If nothing else,  it’s kinda cool seeing the insides of a T3, and how it works!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/t3-tip-6-resurrecting-a-dead-palm-tungsten-t3

Sep 08

Review: Proporta Crystal Case for Tungsten T3

Given the functionality and portability of PDA’s, it’s important to me that I always have my PDA with me. Unfortunatly, because of the design and form of many PDAs, unless you have a good case, you simply can’t “pocket” your PDA without fear of damaging the screen or inadvertently pressing a button resulting in a drained battery. Cases provided with most PDAs are marginal at best with the best cases being sold my third-party vendors.

While I’m certainly no newbie when it comes to PDA cases, (I’ve owned various cases for the US Robotics Pilot 1000, Palm III, Palm Vx, and Sony Clie NX70V) the choices are admittedly daunting. Read on to learn more about what case choice I made for my Tungsten T3…

My new Palm Tungsten T3 sports a simple stock leather-like “flip” case. While it does offer some screen protection, I am very hesitent to “pocket it” for fear of damaging the screen, so some better case was in order.

After reading some reviews and product listings, and after thinking about just what kind of case would suit me best, I decided to order a “Crystal Case” from Proporta, an excellent PDA accessory company in the UK.



The Crystal Case for the Tungsten T3 is a “flip” style case. I prefer this design over a “book” style because it lets you easily hold and navigate the PDA as it was intended. I also feel that for the T3, the “book” style is a bit impractical given its “slider” design, so the “flip” style is excellent.

The case construction is simple, rugged, and elegant. According to Proporta’s site, is made from “the type of durable and scratch resistant polycarbonate plastic that’s used to make protective eyewear”. In other words, it’s very durable. Like a pair of safety glasses, it’s clear and rugged providing great protection while at the same time letting you see and access most functions while the case is still closed. The case “grips” the T3 around the edges very nicely and utilizes the small “indents” in the back of the T3 to “lock” into place. Once attached, there is no slippage or movement. There is a “flip” cover that covers the screen and folds to almost 180 degrees when open. The case fits very snugly–almost feeling like it’s a part of the T3′s construction. The very form-fitting case adds only about an eighth of an inch all around keeping the T3 small and sleek like it was meant to be.

All buttons and ports are accessible thanks to nice, beveled cutouts that provide easy access to the power button, the voice memo button, and even the reset hole. The 5-way nav pad is NOT covered. Whilt this does make it probe to in-pocket button presses, this makes is actually nice because it lets you navigate apps without having to flip open the case. THere are several third-party apps available to prevent the buttons from powering on the T3.

At first, I thought that i could not HotSync with the case on. It simply didn’t fit into the cradle. But the, it struck me that if I just pull out the T3′s slider, it sits very nicely in the cradle! So no messing around with removing the case! Very nice.

At this point, I have absolutely no reservations putting my Crystal Case-enclosed T3 in my front pocket, but I’m still a bit hesitent about “back-pocketing” it. Time will tell, though. So, overall, I give the Proporta Crystal Case very high marks.

Oh, and I must also mention that when I ordered the case, it arrived without incident within a week from the UK (I live in the USA.) Proporta did have to backorder another item I ordered at the same time, but they didn’t charge me shipping on the second item. Little things like that make their service really stand out.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/review-proporta-crystal-case-for-tungsten-t3

Jun 02

Sony to Suspend Clie Handheld Line

According to a Palm Infocenter article, Sony is “suspending” it’s Clie PDAs, not releaseing any new models to the US market this Fall. This hits hard to many CLie devotees. Despite the news, the Sony Clie NX topics here on JimsTips.com will continue to exist.

Unfortunatly, I haven’t added much new content simply because I had to move to a Palm Tungsten T3 because of our company’s “no cameras” policy. At the time, all of the decent high-end Clies had integrated cameras eliminating them as viable choices.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/sony-to-suspend-clie-handheld-line

Apr 02

T3 Tip #5: Palm Wireless Keyboard Tip

If you own a T3 and a PWK (Palm Wireless Keyboard), you don’t need to run Preferences to change the Handedness to Left-Handed every time you use it.

Just press Alt+Del to change Handedness.
Maybe it works with other keyboards too, try it.

Paulo Stockinger
pstock@palmpoint.com.br

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/t3-tip-5-palm-wireless-keyboard-tip

Mar 02

T3 Tip #4: Tap-And-Hold Alternate Digital Input Areas

The Tungsten T3 has several User Interface “enhancements” that aren’t always apparant. One great example has to do with the “Virtual Graffiti” or “Digital Input Area” (DIA). Learn how to change the Digital Input area!

By default, the Virtual Graffiti area on the Tungsten T3 displays the “standard” Graffiti entry area surrounded by four “buttons”. Did you know that you can change the look and function of the Virtual Graffiti area? You probably know that the “arrow” icon on the lower right of the Status Bar controls whether the Virtual Graffiti area is visible or not. This allows you ro “expand” the screen area as needed for those applications that are full-screen compliant. But, did you know that if you tap-and-hold the arrow, a small “popup” will display giving you the option of selecting among three input area styles? This includes the “standard” layout, an on-screen keyboard, and an “enhanced” layout.

We all know what the Standard layout is, and you should be familiar with the On-screen Keyboard layout, but what about this “Enhanced” layout? Well, it divides the Graffiti entry area into three sections: “lowercase”, “uppercase”, and “numeric”. In the Standard entry area, you write letters on the left and numbers on the right. Letters are in lowercase. If you write your letters OVER the line separating the two sections, the letters will be in uppercase. Sometimes, this can be confusing and prone to errors. The Enhanced input area segregates the three areas, each tuned for its type of input. This makes uppercase and lowercase entry more reliable. The only down side is that you lose the four user-definable application “buttons”. It’s a trade-off, but a good example of some of the enhanced built-in flexibility.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/t3-tip-4-tap-and-hold-alternate-digital-input-areas

Mar 02

T3 Tip #3: Tap-And-Hold Define Silk Buttons

The Tungsten T3 has several User Interface “enhancements” that aren’t always apparant. One great example has to do with the “Virtual Graffiti” or “Digital Input Area” (DIA). Learn how to customize the “Silk Buttons”!

When the Virtual Graffiti area is displayed, by default, there are four “buttons” surrounding the Graffiti entry area: (going counter-clockwise) Applications, Documents-to-go, Photos, and VersaMail. Tapping on these “buttons” will launch the associated applicaiton. But, did you know that if you Tap-And-Hold any of the buttons, a pop-up list of launchable applications will display? Select any one of the listed applications, and the icon will change to that application. Tapping on the new icon will launch the newly-assigned application! You can customize it to YOUR preferences!

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/palmos-pda-tips/t3-tip-3-tap-and-hold-define-silk-buttons

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