Thomas Busch

Smaato News is a RSS/newsreader program (not only) for PalmOS. It offers several preconfigured channels, but one can also add individual feeds. The program supports all kinds of RSS and Atom feeds.
smaato1 Smaato News review
I tested it with the feed of my own news site and there was no problem. But be careful: some feeds deliver the whole text of the article, some other only show the headlines. In this case, the corresponding article can be opened in the web browser by tapping on the “read more” link.
smaato2 Smaato News review
The feeds are updated “over the air” or via Hotsync-Conduit (there have been problems with the speed of the sync via conduit in older versions, but this problem is going to be fixed. A version with improved conduit is coming soon according to a company insider).

One can limit the traffic in order to avoid high costs (if you don’t have a unlimited data plan). Another service is also included: a weather forecast which is also updated during the sync. Smaato says that further services will be integrated.

Smaato News officially is only for Treo devices (both PalmOS and WindowsMobile). But I tested it on my Tungsten T3 with Wifi card and it worked perfectly. Only HiRes+ is not supported. On my Treo 680 I had no problems, too.

Overall, Smaato News is a nice program for everyone who wants to stay up-to-date with the latest news easily. And the best thing about it: it’s free!

On your Palm you can carry all the important personal information with you: calendar, contacts, todos… But what if you need an individual database to store further information? That’s the point where Smartlist To Go comes in.

Smartlist To Go is a very mighty and flexible database software for PalmOS. It comes with a desktop and a handheld application. That means you can synchronize your data easily. The desktop application also can sync with Access and import/export databases (e.g. as *.csv files)

smartlistdesktop Smartlist To Go review

A new database can be created with the desktop application or on your Palm. The “SmartList Wizard” will help you with that and makes creating very simple. You can choose from 22 different data fields like text, checkbox, time etc. Just see the screenshots below. I created a simple DVD database:
sltg 1 Smartlist To Go review
sltg 2 Smartlist To Go review
sltg 3 Smartlist To Go review
sltg 4 Smartlist To Go review

The Smartlist To Go files can be stored in the RAM or on the storage card, the records can be sorted with different filters.

Smartlist To Go runs very fast and relyable on my Tungsten C. The programm is very flexible and offers so many options that I couldn’t test them all. The price of $49,99 is not cheap. But you will get a very mighty and professional database program. If you’re interested, why not download a trial version from the Dataviz homepage?

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There are many ways how to protect your mobile devices. If you`re looking for an alternative for all the leather and aluminium cases, take a look at the Mobile Device Socks from proporta.
The package contains 3 socks in blue, green and pink colour.
proporta package1 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review proporta package2 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review

Proporta says: “Expands to fit all iPods/MP3 Players/Mobile Phones/Smartphones/PDAs”. I tried to verify this with different devices:
T-Mobile SDA:
proporta sda1 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review proporta sda2 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review
O2 Xda Neo:
proporta xda1 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review proporta xda2 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review

iPod Video:
propporta ipod1 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review propporta ipod2 Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review
Tungsten C:
proporta tc Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review

As you can see, the socks really fit (nearly) every device. Only the Tungsten C is a bit too big.
Of course the socks are not able to protect your PDA/Phone against heavy impact, but prevent from scratches on the display. And this may be enough if you carry your mobile phone or PDA in the pocket of your trousers.
proporta trio Proporta Mobile Device Socks Review

The mobile device socks are a not a “must have”, but an extraordinary, individual and slim-fit cover for nearly every mobile device. The price of $17,95 is okay for 3 socks which you can use with nearly every mobile device you have.

Leather cases are a good-looking choice for everyone who wanted medium protection for his Palm. Brando sent us their leather case for the Tungsten C, which can also be used for the Palm Tungsten W.

The Brando Case comes in an elegant packing.

brandocase 1 Brando leather case for Tungsten C/W review

The red and blue box contains the case which fits the Tungsten C and W models. The case is fixed at the mounting at the left side of the TC:

brandocase 2 Brando leather case for Tungsten C/W review

The Palm can be turned around 180°:

brandocase 3 Brando leather case for Tungsten C/W review brandocase 4 Brando leather case for Tungsten C/W review

The case can hold 4 SD-Cards, 2 credit cards and a 2nd Stylus and has a compartment for e.g a piece of paper. The leather is very smooth and of good quality.

brandocase 5 Brando leather case for Tungsten C/W review

All connectors can be used while the Palm ist in the case. The TC even can be
left in the case while it is docked in the craddle:

brandocase 6 Brando leather case for Tungsten C/W review

On the one hand the slim form of the case is great because all sides, keys and connectors of the device can be reached easily. On the other hand, this case offers only basic protection. If you carry your Palm in your bag together with some sharpe-edged objects, this case is not the right for you. But for all the others who want a slim, elegant case the brando workshop case is definitely worth a try!

Sudoku is one of the most popular games at the moment. You can find Sudoku puzzles in newspapers, in the internet – and with Astraware Sudoku you can find it on your Palm.

The idea of the game is quite simple: you have to fill in the numbers from 1 to 9 into the empty fields. Every number is allowed to appear only once per line, column and square of 3×3 fields.

sudoku1 Astraware Sudoku Review

So you have to test which number may match for a certain field. At the beginning there might be several possibilities, but only one of them is really the right one. Astraware Sudoku helps you with that: you can note down the possible numbers by tapping on the buttons on the lower side of the screen. By doing that, you don’t really fill in a number, it’s just a note for yourself. If you’re shure you found the right number, you use the buttons on the right to definitely fill in that numer into the field.

sudoku2 Astraware Sudoku Review

Astraware Sudoku can make the game easier for you: The possible numbers can be filled in automatically. If you want, the right numbers are filled in by the computer. This may help you when you’re new to this game or if you cannot find the right solution. And there’s a secound view where one can paint on the screen to make individiual notes.

sudoku3 Astraware Sudoku Review

The game offers 6 difficulty levels. Registrated users can download a “puzzle of the day” for free. So one doesn’t have to solve the same puzzles on and on…

When I first thought about Sudoku, I was sceptical if I would like this kind of game. But when I started to play, I found out that it can make a lot of fun. What I like most about this game: you don’t need luck, you just need your brain ;-)

If you like to test Astraware Sukoku, you can download a trial version from Astraware’s homepage. The price for the game is $19,95.

I already told you that I own a T-Mobile SDA. I’ll tell you something about this smartphone and why I bought it.
Facts: The SDA has a 176×220 pixel colour screen (no touchscreen), 32MB internal memory, IR, BT, MiniSD, and comes with a full license of Outlook 2002.

Characterizing the SDA in one sentence is easy: „small, but powerfull“. Well, the phone is no more really up-to-date, there are already newer versions on the market (e.g. the SDA II/Qtek 8310) has the same form factor, but integrated Wifi). But I only paid 100€ for my brand new SDA and for that price it’s definitely a good buy*. It offers basic PIM support (calendar, contacts, todos) with outlook syncronisation, email, webbrowsing, mp3 and video playback. With additional software the SDA becomes even more powerfull. The box comes with software to view Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF files (only view, not edit). AvantGo and Mobipocket versions for WinMobile Smartphone Edition are also available. I also installed chat programms for ICQ and IRC and with the thinkoutside driver I even can use my infrared keyboard from Palm with the SDA. Wrinting SMS with ten fingers is really freaky :-) .
I’ve never used a WinMobile device before and some things are different: Programms do not stop when you leave them, they’re only in the background. Only the task manager really stops them. This can be anoying, but it’s also an advantage. Looking up something in the calendar while you’re chatting via IRC? No problem. Multitasking is a feature that I sometimes miss on PalmOS.

The navigation via the joystick, soft keys and numeric keyboard is simple and comfortable. A touchscreen doesn’t make much sense for such a small display in my oppinion. And I want to use my mobile with only ONE hand (touchscreen means one hand for stylus and one hand for mobile).

And why did I buy the SDA? Because I switched to the Tungsten C. I don’t have Wifi on-the-go, but I sometimes want to check my mails or chat while I’m in town or at university. And I want a small, compact mobile phone that provides basic PIM functionality. The SDA offers both (and even more) at a good price.

* the German online-shop „otto.de“ actually offers a bundle of SDA and TomTom Navigator (software and BT GPS receiver) for 199€. Some users only want the TomTom software and/or GPS and sell the SDA for a low price.

End of March I sold my TX. And I bought myself a Tungsten C. I will tell you why I made this “downgrade”.

At first sight the TX is the better device: the TC doesn’t have BT, it has a smaller screen, less RAM, only mono sound and the old PIM software. But why did I sell the “better” device? Because of this two main reasons:
- Grafitty: the recognition rate of the TX’s Grafitty field is really bad. Entering more than a handfull of characters is very uncomfortable. The TC has a keyboard which makes writing much more easy.
- stability: The TX was the Palm which needed the most resets ever. Especially VersaMail caused one softreset after another. I had to reset the TC only once since I’ve got it.

This were the reasons which made me sell my TX. Now that I own a TC, I realized some more advantages of this device:
- speed: programms run faster than on the TX. E.g. AvantGo starts up maybe a second faster.
- screen: the display of my TX had a slightly blue touch. The TC’s screen has clear, pure and bright colours.

I don’t miss BT and stereo audio too much. I have a T-Mobile SDA now (more on that soon) which I use for mail, internet and chat on-the-go. And I have an iPod for listening to music.

At all, the TC is not a perfect Palm. But I don’t want my TX back anymore.

Did you ever change to an older Palm?

The third part of my review will compare the multimedia features of both devices.

The “media” programm of the TX is quite simple. It can show photos and videos, send them via email or bluetooth and you can paint on them. Photos and videos can be imported into PalmDesktop and synchronised with the handheld. Or they are moved to the extension card directly (therefore you need a card reader or software like CardExport). Music can be played with the built-in PocketTunes. It provides basic functionality, too. Songs can be sorted in playlists and the program can be controled with the 5-way navigator (start/stop, jump forward/backward, volume up/down). But you can not synchronise anything with your desktop. Wether playlists nor songs. You have to create and manage playlists on the TX. And you have to move your mp3s manually to the SD-card.

That’s the point where iPod and iTunes come in. Especially the “intelligent playlist” feature makes it easy to create playlists. You don’t have to select every single song, it’s all done automatically! Just enter some keywords, and iTunes does the work for you. And if you want to to it yourself: Just drag&drop the songs to a playlist. Trust me, that’s more comfortable than on the Palm. Pictures are also moved to the iPod via iTunes. But you only can select a whole folder to be syncronised with your iPod.

Videos on the iPod are a litte bit tricky. It converted one video via iTunes and moved it to the iPod. But when I wanted to watch it there, I saw it but could not hear it. I tried different software and finally found VLC. This programm is the only that converts videos the right way (out of the programs I tested). Now I have both picture and sound.

Navigating through the media libary on the iPod is very easy. Via the Clickwheel you can sroll through houndreds or thousands of songs very fast. With one hand.

At all, the easy synchronisation with iTunes, easy and fast navigation, and the high capacity of the built-in harddisc make the iPod an excellent multimedia device. The TX has basic media functions, which may be enough for most Palm users. But you need a SD card with enough space to make your Palm a multimedia device.

Once a year the German Palm site Nexave organises an event for all Palm users of Germany: the Palm User Meeting (PUM). It traditionally takes place in Hannover at Friday of the week when the Cebit opens. This year, I was there.

The PUM is a great opportunity to meet and talk to other Palm users one only knows from other places like forums or chats. There is a lottery, too, where the participants can win handhelds, accesoires and software. Mr. Weiss from Palm Germany brought some TEs, a LifeDrive and a T5. For the first time there also was a “modding contest”: the users who modded their handhelds could show them and win a price for it. The black and white painted Zodiac won the first price:

112014974 a26ec715dc m PUM   The German Palm User Meeting

Overall, it was a nice event. Thanks to Nexave and all the sponsors! I hope I can be there next year, too….

I visited the Cebit in Hannover, Germany, and just want to share some of my impressions with you.

As a TamsPalm author I’m interested in mobile computing in general. And of course especially in smartphones and handhelds. At the Cebit one can find many interesting devices and I’ll show you some of them:

For all the Linux-enthusiats the GPS smartphone from ImCoSys might be both interesting and disappointing. One the one hand it’s interesting because it’s running Linux, has integrated GPS, Bluetooht, Wifi, supports Java and VoIP via the SIP standard. On the other hand it might be disappointing for some of you because the Linux Software has been modified and is not an open platform like Debian, Ubuntu and other “normal” Linux distibutions. It’s more like a proprietary OS which means that you cannot easily port Linux programs to this smartphone. The company did this because they wanted one consistent platform and they spent three years for developing this device. The smartphone originally should have been presented in June, but because of the Cebit they showed the prototypes now.

112112266 f034d7af0d m Impressions from Cebit 2006
The ImCoSys smartphone

I could also take a look at some WindowsMobile devices. The Asus P525 has a nice form factor but I could not manage to handle it without the stylus. The joystick had no function and so it was impssible to scroll through the menues. I don’t know if this device was only a prototype and the problem will be fixed or if this is a generall problem.
112112271 7c9aa00890 Impressions from Cebit 2006

I also tested the Ipaq 6xxx mobile messenger (I can’t remember the exact model number). The one-hand navigation is not bad, but you’ll have to use the stylus sometimes.
The Qtec 9100 smartpone is a very interesting device, too. The keyboard is hidden under the screen and slides out when you need it. Then the screen automatically rotates to landscape mode. The 240×320 screen is big enough for emails, PIM and other text-based applications.
Another WinMobile smartphone was presented by BenQ mobile. Its name is P51 and it has integrated GPS and Wifi. This device offered the best one-hand navigation of all WinMobile boxen I tested at the Cebit.

I also wanted to test the Loox T800, but FujitsuSiemens only had one device behind glas:

112019268 4330666afa m Impressions from Cebit 2006

Of course there were not only Linux and WinMobile devices, but also Symbian smartphones. I had a closer look at the Nokia E61. It’s interesting for buisnnes users because it’s one of the phones that has NO camera. It’s very slim and offers full Microsoft Office support: Word, Excel and Powerpoint files can be showed and edited. You can see that Symbian is a mobile phone OS, because the handling is fully based on the keyboard. It has a full QWERTY keyboard and wrintig with it was no problem for me. I like the E61 more than the WinMobile smartphones because Symbian has a more simple GUI which is better adapted for mobile phones.
112019271 5d32e0aef0 m Impressions from Cebit 2006
Nokia E61

At the end of this article, here are some pictures from the “Origami” UMPCs:


112112267 c7b1712bfa m Impressions from Cebit 2006
112112269 2ca1dc8ffa m Impressions from Cebit 2006

I think the idea of this “Ultra Mobile PCs” is not bad, but you should check out if a “normal” TabletPC suits your needs better.

Today, we’ll take a look at the PIM functionality of the TX and the iPod. But before I start with this part, here are two additional pictures that compare the screens:

108327918 745fa3aa96 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)
108327919 0fa9562f02 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)

As you can see, the screen of the TX is less bright than the screen of the iPod, even at highest brightness level.

Comparing the PIM features of both devices was not as easy as I thought. The iPod should be able to synchronise both calendar and contacts with Outlook. But my iPod refused to sync the contacts. I really don’t know if this is a generall problem or a specific problem on my computer. I’ll have a closer look at some iPod forums, but last week I didn’t have the time for that.

The following PIM functionality is provided by the iPod: calendar, contacts, todo, notes and alarm clock. Here are some pictures (iPod on the left, TX on the right):

Calendar


108327921 2a82219335 t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)108327920 d838547b35 t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)

Contacts


108327922 8d9bf7761a t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)108329255 0f4ac6607a t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)

Notes


108327925 b20cf9fbae t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)108329257 f4218425fe t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)

Alarm/World clock


108329254 43eaa09379 t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)108329258 c48442c481 t An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)

As I already told you, contacts and calendar can be synchronised with Outlook. Well, “synchronised” is maybe the wrong word for that. Because you cannot edit your data on the iPod. So “copy you Outlook data to the iPod” perhaps is the better expression. It’s the same with memos: you can not edit them, but you can move any *.txt file to the iPod’s HD (into folder “notes”) and read it on your iPod. The alarm clock works very well. It can wake you up with a simple alarm signal which is loud enough for my ears or with music. Therefore you have to choose a playlist and plug in some speakers into the headphone plug. The iPod doesn’t have built-in speakers…

Do I have to tell you that the TX can manage your PIM data better than the iPod? The biggest advantage of the Palm is it’s touchscreen. So you can enter new data or edit existing entries. This means real synchronisation with your desktop. But the iPod can keep a save copy of your data and maybe come in when your Palm is out of order. The memo application is not bad at all, a Palm can not read *txt files without additional software AFAIK.

P.S.: You can find part 1 of my comparison here.

It’s black against white, business against lifestyle, Palm vs. Apple: A comparison between the Palm TX and the Apple iPod Video 30GB.

Now some of you maybe want to ask: “Why compare two totaly different devices?”. And well, you’re right in a way. Both devices have a different history and philosophy. While Palm’s devices originally were made for PIM and multimedia features were added later, the iPod was designed as an entertainment an lifestyle product with added PIM functionality. But after a closer look, you can see that both devices have more in common that you might think: both can handle your calendar, contacts and notes, both can play music and videos. And both are about the same price. So why not compare them? (Especially when a TamsPalm author owns both of them… ;-) )

My comparison will be devided into the following parts:
1) Introduction (that’s what you’re reading right now)
2) PIM
3) Multimedia (music, video, games)
4) Connectivity and extensibility (accessoires, 3rd party software…)

At the end of part one, here are some pictures of both devices (click at the image to see a larger version).


104181580 a1f781f75c m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 1)
104181582 f4b4ef9a49 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 1)
104181584 4c83447916 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 1)
104181585 5b9eacf704 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 1)
104181586 0cc73b7401 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 1)
104181587 1d8ab40578 m An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 1)

Next week, I’ll go on with part 2: PIM. If you have any questions or whishes regarding this, just leave a comment!

You like Bowling? Then Astraware’s “Ultimate Bowling Fighter” (UBF) could be interesting for you.

The game offers 3 different ways to play: solo game, tournament and multiplayer. Solo game is the short version, a single round to practice and improve your skills (ideal to play between your lessons or while you’re waiting for the bus). It’s also a training for the tournament mode. During such a tournament one has to fight against different CPU opponents one after another. When you lose a fight, you’re out and the tournament is over. If you manage to win the tournament, new locations and characters are unlocked. Trying to unlock all features will keep you motivated for a long time. Graphics (look at the screenshots below) is very good and the sound (e.g. when a pin falls over) is quite realistic.
 Ultimate Bowling Fighter Review  Ultimate Bowling Fighter Review  Ultimate Bowling Fighter Review
At all, Ultimate Bowling Fighter is an entertaining, challenging and realistic game for everyone who likes to play Bowling on a Palm. But your device should have enough free RAM space. The game needs about 4,5 MB of it. The regular price is $19,95.

It’s Sunday again and the new summary is available. Just take a look at TamsPalm.de!

Thomas

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