Brock Thompson

Brock Thompson is a project manager and authors a technology blogBrock Thompson. Circle up with Brock Thompson on Google+.

The developers at MotionApps have an interesting software program called Mdesk Pro. It’s purpose is to bridge the gap between your computer and your PDA. It brings up a screenshot on your computer of what your PDA’s screen looks like. Then, you can use your computer’s mouse and keyboard to do editing directly on your Palm.

mdesk1T Mdesk Pro Review

On the positive side of things, the program’s graphical design is quite nice. The option to load different skins gives you the exact look you desire. It comes preloaded with 6 different skins: The different versions of the Treo, Tungsten T3, and a Zire31. The program also gives you the ability to choose one of three sizes for the on screen PDA.
mdesk2T Mdesk Pro Review

By far the best feature is a launch menu that pops up when you hold the left control and do a right click. Depending on your amount of apps, the list that pops up could be rather lengthy, but it is sorted alphabetically which makes it much easier to navigate.

On the negative side of things, the programs response time seems rather slow. I contacted the developer, and he said this commonly occurs due to a difficulty with the USB drivers in Palms which causes the PC to PDA communication to be restricted to a USB 1.1 speed. However, I have used other programs that have a much better response time and do not seem to struggle with this issue.

Overall, an interesting program. A little overpriced, but if they fixed the response time they would have a quality program.

-Brock

screenshot0005T AcidSolitaire 4.03

Red Mercury has recently released a new update for their very popular AcidSolitaire game. The game is probably the most popular solitaire game for Palm OS.

On the positive side of things, the game is very well made and boasts beautiful graphics and game play. You can set the background to be any image you want, and you can customize how the cards look. In other words, it allows you to kill time just the way you want.

The stats feature is another great feature to the game. It lets you see how much time your games take, what your record is, and your current win/loss streak. I typically have a pretty impressive loss streak accumulating.

The new version updates compatibility for all new Palms. They also included “hints” which help you out if you’re not sure what to do. They have also extended the undo/redo function to be unlimited so when you lose you’ll have absolutely no regrets…or excuses.
screenshot0002T AcidSolitaire 4.03

The above picture shows my only gripe about the game. I really despise the “No Moves Left” text that flashes on the bottom of your screen when the program determines you can’t make another move. It seems to ruin the fun! I would rather determine I am an official loser using my own brainpower. However, you can remedy this by de-selecting the “lose detection” in the options.

Overall, this is an extremely well made program. The graphics and UI are well done and very playable. The game’s cost is a little steep at $15, but the quality is incomparable.

-Brock

 Inka Pen

When it comes to PDA accessories, quality is the characteristic that gets my attention the most. It is always nice to have a product that you know will reward you for your investment.

The Inka Pen is a product designed with this standard of quality in mind. You know it’s a well made product when they offer you a lifetime warranty with it.
 Inka Pen

The Inka Pen starts with an stainless steel barrel or titanium depending on which model you buy. That said, you know this product will be well protected from any abuse that might occur. If you pull the bottom of it, an O-ring will release a small pen. The O-ring helps keep out water if it was being used in rainy conditions. The manufacturer states that this pen can be used in any condition due to its pressurized ink cartridge.
 Inka Pen

The design of the pen begins to impress when you screw off the bottom of the pen. A yellow delrin stylus appears. Delrin is an excellent material for a PDA stylus due to its natural lubricity and durability. I have tested this product for over a month now and love how easily this material glides on the surface of a PDA. The stylus does take some time to get to which is the only downside of the design.


 Inka Pen

Yes, it can even become a full sized pen. It isn’t very much fun writing when it is only half length, but when you put it all together, it assembles a very attractive, sleek pen.

The Inka pen is an excellent choice for someone who has room on their keychain or loves the outdoors. It will withstand any and all of the elements you throw at it…as long as you stay between -30 to 300F degrees. So stay off the surface of the sun, and you’ll love the quality of this pen!

I’ve managed to get a hold of the most recent Windows Vista beta and have noticed two new applications on the start menu, Contacts and Calendar. Typically, the user would just use Outlook or Outlook express to enter in their personal data, but these new applications seem much more user friendly.

 Windows Vista Contacts and Calendar

First, the calendar. As you can see, the UI is very user-friendly, but it does lack some of the bells and whistles that the Outlook calendar has. It has an import-export function much like Outlook that allows you to upload your information automatically. There are multiple views such as work week, week, month, etc. The feature I like the most is the easy publish feature that is embedded into it. When you click publish, a wizard appears that leads you through a step by step process on how to publish your information online. I beleive this will be a step in the right direction since companies will be able to view all of their employees schedules easily from an online source…not to mention you could check your schedule from anywhere in the world with any computer.

 Windows Vista Contacts and Calendar

Next up, the new Contacts application. In Vista, each user has their own contacts stored in their user folder. The program itself is again simple but very useful. It has the same import-export function. The information fields for each contact are very numerous and useful. You can be so specific to even record your contact’s wedding aniversary. Also, there is a picture field for each contact which is very nice.

So, why mention these programs? Well, first, I believe that they will change Palm PIM programs significantly. Programs will be rewritten to sync with these applications. Vista also now includes a Sync Center which helps keep all your mobile devices synced easily. I could not try this program, because the current Palm driver for XP is incompatible with Vista…which may mean a new Palm Desktop might come out soon?

Please leave comments if you have questions that I might answer regarding the new programs and operating system. Windows Vista gives a lot more support to mobile devices than Windows XP did, and it will be exciting to see how the mobile market reacts.

-Brock

I have been keeping in touch with the MantraGroup developers as they continue to work on the MobiVoIP software which will allow Palm OS users to make VoIP calls. See the full beta review here.

Also, your can review the product yourself and become one of the beta testers! Click here! All calls are completely free for beta testers, but please give MantraGroup as much feedback as possible using their forums here.


voip2 MobiVoIP Update

Here’s the responses regarding the status of the software:

Brock: What is the status of MobiVoIP?

MobiVoIP: “There was an update on mobiVoIP from the development team which sniffs new incoming calls in the background ie. when you are in Contacts, Browser etc. QA is still working on it”

Brock: What is the news regarding the upcoming release?

MobiVoIP: “MobiVoIP is fairly a very big app which took us over an year to develop and we are just giving it a little more time to check its stability before we release it. We want all our apps to be rock solid at least when they go out (released).”

“As a side note, we have beta released mobiLock and there is one more app coming up built on VoIP architecture. However, you will not see any action till mobiVoIP is released and dust settled.”

MantraGroup has a number of great applications under their sleeves that we should see very soon. I have been blown away by how professional this company is regarding its quality of software, and its excellent communication.

**MantraGroup also has a very nice messenging program out named Causerie Messenger I will be doing a full review of this product very soon.

-Brock


1t Arkon Powered GPS Car Mount

Here’s a review of quite possibly the best PDA car mount available today. The Arkon Powered GPS Car Mount is an innovative new offering from Arkon. I am very impressed at the quality of the workmanship of this product. It combines a PDA charger, GPS receiver, car mount, and speaker amplifyer into one compact product. Very nice!

My first impressions were favorable. I attached the suction cup to my windshield and was impressed how tightly it adhered to the glass. My Tom Tom car mount had begun to fall off periodically and was quite annoying. I have been testing this mount for 2 months now and it has yet to fall of the windshield. Arkon recommends that you release the suction every two weeks to maximize the life of the suction cup.


3t Arkon Powered GPS Car Mount

The above picture shows the GPS receiver and the wonderful swivel feature. The GPS receiver gets very nice reception and is hidden out of the way behind the mount. It can even swivel to the side for those of you who would like to use your PDA in landscape mode in the mount.
The swivel mechanism on the mount is like a ball-in-socket design which allows you to move your PDA to just about any angle you can think of, and then you tighten it to hold that position. When tightened, the swivel holds very firmly and does a great job. This was definitely one of my favorite features.

There is also a speaker in the back of the mount that is covered up in this picture. You can connect your device’s audio through a male to male headphone cord to the speaker in the mount. Palm devices are notorious for having poorly powered speakers, but you can use the amplified speaker to hear your GPS voice directions over your music or other noise. There is also a volume dial on the side for this speaker. I couldn’t get the speaker to work with the supplied Tungsten C cable they gave me. I was able to get the speaker to work using other devices. I’m sure the Tungsten C’s mono sound caused the issue. The quality of the speaker was average but definitely sufficient for your basic voice directions.


4t Arkon Powered GPS Car Mount


5t Arkon Powered GPS Car Mount

As mentioned, the mount also charges your PDA. It does this through one of the two USB ports in the bottom of the mount. I liked the option to charge another device through USB. The entire mount has a cord that connects to a cigarette lighter which powers the entire mount. A red light at the bottom comes on when the mount is powered. The device also has a bluetooth charger, but there is really no reason to opt out of using the mount’s GPS receiver as it performed extremely well.

In conclusion, my Tom Tom Car Mount that I bought is soon going to be in the trash. This Arkon Mount is the best car mounting product I have seen available. Its innovative design, array of features, and brilliant workmanship makes this product well deserving of a favorable review.

-Brock


screenshot0005 QuickVerse Mobile 2006 Platinum

QuickVerse Mobile 2006 Platinum is a brand new program from QuickVerse. It is absolutely loaded with all kinds of resources for research, sermons, or personal reading. It comes with 7 Bibles, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, devotionals, encyclopedias, topical references, and concordances. The complete list can be found here.

screenshot0001 QuickVerse Mobile 2006 Platinum

I have really enjoyed how they synthesized all the different resources together. First, there is a split screen view which allows you to look at a Bible and a reference resource at the same time. I preferred to be reading the ESV version of the Bible and have the LAB commentary open at the same time…because we all know we need someone to help us out to understand some of the more difficult readings of the Bible!
The above picture shows the menu that pops up when you tap and hold on any word in the Bible. It allows you to do numerous functions including searching a Bible dictionary or other resources to help you understand the meaning…a nice feature indeed.

screenshot0002 QuickVerse Mobile 2006 Platinum

The above picture displays my “reading plan”. The program allows you to set up a schedule for a daily reading plan. You first set a goal, like reading the New Testament in a year, and then it will divide the Bible up into daily reading plans for you to complete. Every day, you can go to a calendar which shows the progress of your plan.


screenshot0003 QuickVerse Mobile 2006 Platinum

This program is packed with resources. The above picture shows what is contained in the “tools tab” of the program. As you can see, QuickVerse allows for an in-depth study to help you understand what you are reading.


screenshot0004 QuickVerse Mobile 2006 Platinum

Overall, I have been extremely impressed with the program. The number and quality of resources has really impressed me. My only gripe against the program is the lack of the NIV translation. I was told that the copyright holder (Zondervan) only releases rights to the NIV to certain companies. It seems that Zondervan thinks it is ethical to withhold the Bible from people…interesting. Regardless, this program does include the ESV which many scholars believe to be better than the NIV. This program is an excellent tool, and it is one that definitely deserves a look from the Palm community.

-Brock

Many Palm users have been praying for a good VoIP program, and your prayers may soon be answered. MobiVoIP is a new program currently in beta. I happen to be one of the lucky beta testers, and I’ll be happy to pass my findings onto you now.

MobiVoIP requires your Palm to be able to connect to the internet through Bluetooth, Wifi, or EVDO. When you place a call, it sends your call through the internet and connects you to whoever you’re calling…FREE*! (See comments)

voip2 MobiVoIP Beta

I use PocketPCTech’s microphone/adapter for the Tungsten C and highly recommend their products for those of you who do not have microphones on their devices. A full review was done on this product by TamsPalm and can be found by searching our site.

Using this adapter, I have found that I have very good voice quality using the program. There is some static in the background, but the program is still very practical. There is a slight delay from when I speak to when the other party hears my voice, but this can be expected when using any VoIP program.

This is an excellent program and works very well. It also has the ability to dial numbers out of your contacts database. My only gripe against the program is that it doesn’t allow connection through a proxy. One of the programmers explained to me that this would be very difficult to accomplish for a VoIP program.

Please email the programmers and encourage them to keep working hard on this program. This is definitely a one of a kind program and deserves to be noticed by the Palm community.

-Brock

If you are a movie addict, then you should definitely give Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide 2006 a try.

screenshot0013t Leonard Maltins Movie Guide 2006

This program packs 21,000 films right into your palm. When you select a film, you can see Leonard Maltin’s opinion (1-4 stars), the rating itself (G, PG, PG-13, R), a short summary, whether it was released on DVD or VHS, and many other properties of the movie.

screenshot0014t Leonard Maltins Movie Guide 2006

The program’s best feature is its ability to run a search on its database. You can specify certain criteria, and it runs a search for it. For instance, I wanted to see a movie with Nicholas Cage, made in the last decade, and rated PG-13, and it came up with the movies that matched that criteria.

screenshot0015t Leonard Maltins Movie Guide 2006

It also gives you the ability to keep track of your movie library. You can add the movies that you own which helps you keep track of them, and this helps if your roommate “borrows” a movie (steals it forever) and then claims that he’s never seen that movie before.

The program also allows you to connect through the internet and upload their most recent movie database. This is a handy feature to stay current with Hollywood’s newest releases.

My only concern with this program is the rating system they put on the movies. It seems that the majority of recent movies get very poor ratings while the only movies that get good reviews are the “classics” that were made before we were born. I understand that time can add quality to a movie, but I do believe the modern special effects, humor, and story lines may have been overlooked in their rating system.

The positives do outweigh the few negatives, and this program is definitely worth a try. Let us know your opinion on the program.

If you own a Tungsten C, you probably have the same complaint as many other TC users…”WHY doesn’t it have a stereo output?” As sad as it may be, Palm thought it would be a good idea to put a mono output onto a feature packed top-notch device like the Tungsten C. It is the equivalent of using Windows ME for an operating system on one of Dell’s XPS 600′s.
Packaging
However, our friends at Pocket PC Techs have come out with a wonderful way of correcting this glaring issue. There have been other solutions, but none have been quite as well done as the product coming from Pocket PC Techs. Its a mouthful but it is called…Tungsten C 3.5mm Split-Mono Headphone Adapter with Built-In Mic & Answer Button!

Inside the box

Basically, it plugs into the mono Tungsten C outlet and splits the audio to allow for mono audio through both ears which sounds very good in my opinion. To top it all off, they added a built-in mic in the middle of the cord which works very well also.

The adapter

The built-in mic is made for recording audio between 1-2 feet away from its source. I have tested in at even longer distances and the recording is very clear and well done. I have been extremely impressed with the quality of this product and its mic capabilities. It even has an “answer button” which activates Palm’s voice recording application and is very useful.

Plugged in

If you have a Tungsten C and have yet to solve your “mono problem” then you should give this product a try. It is a very simple fix, but, in my opinion, it is the best solution for enhancing your Tungsten C’s audio and recording capabilities.

-Brock

The two Boxwave screen protectors

There are two varieties of screen protectors:

First, there is the soft, film-like variety that are typically not reusable and must be replaced within 3-6 months. Their advantage is that they only add a thin, flexible barrier between the stylus and digitizer which allows for a better response.
Secondly, we come to the harder, plastic protectors. They are less flexible and provide a better protective barrier for your digitizer. The typical downside is that the user may have to adjust to pushing harder when tapping to get a response. However, many of them are reusable and often enhance the color of the screen (or lack of color for you loyal old-timers).

BoxWave allowed us to test two of their most popular screen protectors: ClearTouch Anti-Glare and ClearTouch Crystal. Both of them are from the hard variety.

Now, I would humbly call myself a “soft tapper” when it comes to using my Palm. But, both ClearTouch protectors allowed for great response for both handwriting recognition and tapping. I did have to make a small adjustment, but it took only a day or two to get used to them. I was successfully converted from being a soft protector user to a hard protector user!

The ClearTouch Anti-Glare and the ClearTouch Crystal are also both reusable. I was skeptical when I read this on the package. How could a sticky, adhesive protector be washed with soap and water and still stick to my Palm? I don’t have an answer for you, but I know that it works. I washed them both reasonably vigorously to prove BoxWave wrong, but after I dried them I found them both to be sticky again. Just be careful to dry them in an area with as little dust as possible. If you live somewhere that happens to be warm this season, then it’d be a great idea to dry them outside.
Washing one of the products

Lastly, the two products do have their differences:

The Anti-Glare protector, if examined carefully, has a bunch of micro-scratches on it. These are barely noticeable and do not degrade the transparency of the screen. The surface virtually eliminates fingerprints and minimizes glare. I found this feature very impressive.

The Crystal protector’s major feature is that it is 99% transparent. It has a glossy finish which brings out color and enhances brightness. However, I could not tell much of a difference in clarity between the two when I had them each covering half of my screen. Both do an excellent job at not dulling the brilliance of the screen.

In conclusion, both products impressed me significantly. They converted me away from using the softer, film-like protectors. I really enjoyed the unique features of each which help diversify themselves from other screen protectors. My personal preference is the Anti-Glare protector, because I am very impressed with how it handles glare and fingerprints and still maintains a smooth writing surface. Both are great products, and you won’t be disappointed in either of them.

The anti-glare protector handles the flash well

-Brock

Virtual Pool Mobile is a reasonably new offering from Celeris. I’ve heard many rave reviews in forums about how great the game is, but I held off downloading it since I figured it would be “just another pool game for Palm”.

 Virtual Pool Mobile Review

I took the plunge a few weeks ago and downloaded VPM. I began to play my first game, and I was shocked to see the graphics my Palm was generating. The physics of the pool balls is truly stunning. The game play allowed for different spins, cue position on ball, and an infinity number of table views. This game is a must-have…unless you hate being absolutely hooked on a game for weeks on end.

 Virtual Pool Mobile Review

The physics of the game, the quality of the graphics, and its ability to force you to play for hours on end combine to make this the best pool game for Palm OS in my opinion. However, be warned that as you beat your preliminary opponents you will be faced with even more difficult ones.

Installation is rather tricky in my opinion. It puts a self-extracting file on your Palm. However, if you install it to your RAM (like any other application), it will fail to run the program. Make sure you install the extracting installer to your card. Secondly, my launcher, Facer, failed to run the program once installed to the card. I have to exit my launcher and run it off the default launcher in order to load the application. The majority of the other launchers I tried did not have this problem.

 Virtual Pool Mobile Review

Overall, a top-notch game. If you beat the whole game (which I can’t), call me, and I’ll buy you lunch.

-Brock

Palm Addict is currently running a poll for the best Palm sites/blogs/forums on the web. TamsPalm is currently in third place in the blog category. This is where you come in, because we all know we should be in first! Please vote here! Hurry, since you only have the rest of 2005 to vote! Thanks!
Zur Zeit läuft bei Palm Addict eine Abstimmung über die besten Palm Seiten/Blogs/Foren im Internet. TamsPalm ist im Moment auf dem dritten Platz in der Blog-Kategorie. Hier kommen Sie ins Spiel, denn wir alle wissen wer der erste sein sollte! Bitte stimmen Sie ab! Beeilen Sie sich, Sie haben nur noch den Rest des alten Jahres Zeit! Danke!

There’s a project that has been underway for awhile called PocketDivXEncoder. It’s purpose is to provide a quick and easy way to convert video files to a shrunk down version that will fit the parameters of your handheld.

 PocketDivXEncoder

The two output formats are .ogm and .avi which makes it easy to play the files on your handheld using programs like TCPMP. It allows you to crop the video, scale down the video and audio, and see the total output file size. The output quality is excellent and you’ll be surprised how great the quality can still be when you shrink the movie to 180MB or less! The best part is its free! However, please support the author of the program.

More recently, the program was turned over into a different project called Lathe which has more features and a nicer GUI. You can watch a demo video of Lathe here.
Enjoy!

-Brock

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