This is a preliminary review, which is being generated on a non-final sample of the PDA32. A full review of the shipping model will follow at a later date!
We compared the PDA32 to a variety of classics yesterday – it’s now time to look at more recent machines.

First of all, a look against the N900. It is the only current device which has somewhat similar proportions:
aceeca pda32 vs nokia n900 f Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2 aceeca pda32 vs nokia n900 f2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2

Our new BlackBerry Storm is a bit smaller, and a lot thinner:
aceeca pda32 vs blackberry storm f Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2 aceeca pda32 vs blackberry storm f2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2

Nokia’s N97 mini is slimmer:
aceeca pda32 vs nokia n97 f Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2 aceeca pda32 vs nokia n97 f2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2

As is Sony Ericsson’s XPERIA X1:
aceeca pda32 vs xperia x1 f Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2 aceeca pda32 vs xperia x1 f2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2

And the Nokia XM5800:
aceeca pda32 vs nokia 5800 f Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2 aceeca pda32 vs nokia 5800 f2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2

Finally, a shot next to HP’s ipaq rx4240:
aceeca pda32 vs ipaq f Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2 aceeca pda32 vs ipaq f2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 2

In the end, the statement from the last part of the review also holds true here. Tune in soon to find more about the physical aspects of the device…

This is a preliminary review, which is being generated on a non-final sample of the PDA32. A full review of the shipping model will follow at a later date!

Given that the PDA32 will likely replace a nice bit of aging Palm hardware, I have decided to give you a special size comparison against each and every Palm OS device I could find in my archive.

When it comes to thickness, the PDA32 is hard to beat. A Treo 650 looks slim:
aceeca pda32 vs palm treo 650 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm treo 650 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

The same can be said of the Treo 680:
aceeca pda32 vs palm treo 680 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm treo 680 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

Palm’s Centro is a bit smaller, too:
aceeca pda32 vs palm centro Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm centro 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

Don’t even get me started on the webOS-powered Pre:
aceeca pda32 vs palm pre Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm pre 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

A Palm TX may be similar in size, but also is thinner:
aceeca pda32 vs palm tx Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm tx 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

The Palm Tungsten T3 also is slimmer:
aceeca pda32 vs palm tungsten t3 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm tungsten t3 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

Next to the m500:
aceeca pda32 vs palm m500 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm m500 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

Finally, a shot next to the Palm IIIc:
aceeca pda32 vs palm iic Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1 aceeca pda32 vs palm iiic 2 Aceeca PDA32 preliminary review   size, 1

In the end, the PDA32 is fat. However, it is insanely ergonomical (one of the most comfortable-to-hold handhelds I ever saw) and very transportable – I had less issues with the box than I initially thought!

Tune in tomorrow for a comparison against our standard roster of devices.

Whenever yours truly gets a book pitch on “social impacts of handheld computing”, experience has told me to just blacklist the publisher – in 99.9% of the cases, the content is written by an organization who wants to leech money off mobile users by talking them into believing some kind of nonsense and paying for a “cure”. However, Marshall Cavendish is a reputable printing house…which is why I gave their book the benefit of the doubt.
magic blackberry front The magic BlackBerry   the review magic blackberry back The magic BlackBerry   the review

David Thompson is a well-known author for self-help books. The intention of this work is to make you communicate more effectively using mobile email.

He achieves this by telling the fictive story of an employee working at an airline. He gets a “magic BlackBerry”, which then makes him think about the way he has communicated with his peers and managers in the past.

Topics covered include things like relationship flexibility, when to call rather than reply and the ever-famous “waiting-before-replying”.

As already said above, the book is very easy to read. Its layout furthermore emphasizes key passages:
magic blackberry side The magic BlackBerry   the review

If you do a lot of mobile email, definitely slip this book into your next Amazon order. Even though it won’t tell you much new, the 10$ are a small price for overthinking your messaging habits…

Traditional Palm OS handhelds were famous for their swift start-up – a stock Tungsten T managed to start from cold in less than a minute, and didn’t bug the user too much.

On webOS phones like the Pre, the process is more difficult. The process starts by making you pick a country, language and region:
pre setup 0 Palm Pre – the start up process

Next, the SIM card must be unlocked:
pre setup 1 Palm Pre – the start up process

When this is done, you have to accept the webOS license agreement.
pre setup 2 Palm Pre – the start up process

Afterwards, its time to create your Palm Profile:
pre setup 3 Palm Pre – the start up process

And accept another set of licenses:
pre setup 4 Palm Pre – the start up process

With that out of the way, the machine boots up and shows an introductory video. Some key scenes are pictured below:
pre setup 5a Palm Pre – the start up process pre setup 5b Palm Pre – the start up process pre setup 5c Palm Pre – the start up process

Even though the process definitely is slower than the one we used to know from traditional Palm OS devices, it nevertheless is acceptable. The only – but major – nuisance is the requirement that a valid SIM be installed during the entire process…

As the Palm Pre is intended to replace not only Palm’s Treo smartphones but also their legacy PDA’s, I thought that a size comparison between a few of these “victims” might be interesting.

We scoured our archives, and are proud to present the gallery below. First of all, the Palm Treo 650. It is larger, but has a much better keyboard:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

GSPDA”s infamous M70 is smaller, but boxier:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

Don’t get us started on the PDQ. Technology has clearly come a long way:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

The Palm TX has a larger screen:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

As does the Palm Tungsten T3:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

Next up is our infamous yellow Tungsten E2:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

Palm’s m500 is surprisingly similar in size:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

Whereas both the Palm IIIc and the Viix are larger:
 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms

 Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms  Palm Pre review – size of Pre vs legacy Palms
Tune in again soon – we’ll look at more recent devices next…

Well folks, it looks like I finally made it – a German Palm Pre has landed onto my desk via a source who demanded strictest anonymity. I thus have some time to review the box now – can it stack up?

The box of the Pre shows a radical departure from past Palm designs. It is extremely small:
 Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions  Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions

Removing the lid reveals the device:
 Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions

Below it, a poster with ‘getting started’ hints can be found:
 Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions

Remove it to get your hands onto the headset, charger, data cable and pouch:
 Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions

Unfortunately, a Pre doesn’t do much without a SIM card. However, the SIM insertion animation is pretty slick:
palm pre sim card (3) Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions  Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions  Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions  Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions  Palm Pre review   unboxing, first impressions

In the end, my first impressions are mixed. The unit does have an intriguing, beautiful industrial design – but is let down by the lack of a proper keyboard. One clearly sees that its core intent is entertainment – more soon…

I first saw Brian Fling’s book on Mobile Design and Development on a local connection. Mark A. M. Kramer, an Austrian maven of the mobile computer scene read and praised it – can the tome stack up in the largely empty area of mobile user interface design books?
front Mobile Design and Development – the review back Mobile Design and Development – the review

Brian starts out by looking at the history of mobile and the mobile landscape as it is today. Long-term followers will not find much new stuff here, but it nevertheless makes for an interesting read.

He then moves on to “mobile strategy”. Topics include questions like “What is special about mobile”, the influence of “context” also is explained in some detail. Finally, various options for creating a mobile app are explained – some of them are somewhat obscure and definitely aren’t something you deal with every day.

The next part analyzes the design process for mobile applications. These chapters are what make the book really interesting – you are introduced to design, prototyping and user testing methods for touchscreen and non-touchscreen applications.

The second half of the book looks at the design and creation of mobile web sites: frameworks, compatibility et al get covered in extreme detail. Native application developers are largely left twiddling their thumbs…

As usual for O’Reilly, the book is well-written and readable even for non-native English speakers. Code examples are provided in various web languages; an ample amount of images is included for clarification where beneficial.

In the end, Mobile Design and Development is a great book if you want to create a mobile web app. Creators of native applications can’t use half of the book: if you are interested in the mobile design process, it is a good if somewhat paper-heavy tutorial. Web heads, on the other hand, should buy it straight away…the 23$ shouldn’t hurt

PackT can be considered the newest kid on the block of tech publishing – consider them the APress of “design-related technologies”. Their book on “User Programming for Busy Programmers” hit my desk. But can the 80-page booklet stack up?
front User Training for Busy Programmers   the review back User Training for Busy Programmers   the review

William Rice starts out by looking at a few “common myths” of the trade. What is user training, what isn’t it? Who needs to be trained?

Afterward, the book takes a strictly wizard-like approach. A repeating template not dissimilar to the one found in use cases takes you step-to-step from nothing to running user demo, which can be deployed to third-party instructors.

Style-wise, PackT is different from other, more “established” publishers. Their visual presentation is more “to the bone”, and less playful – the whole book didn’t contain a single image. Nevertheless, it was well written and easy to understand.

In the end, I predict that PackT has a bright future ahead of it. This book fulfills its need – if you have just been enlisted to teach at an university or often write manuals and online help systems, you definitely can benefit from it. The price of 13$ for the paperback is ok…

O’Reilly has had a long tradition of publishing small and slim portable reference books. As C++ is an extremely common programming language in mobile, I was given a sample copy of their Pocket Reference. Size-wise, it is about as big as three PDAs next to another…
front OReilly C++ Pocket Reference   the review back OReilly C++ Pocket Reference   the review

As this book is not intended as a learning but rather a reference tool, reading it from start to end is not as easy as with other books. However, I tried and succeeded – if you already have a pretty good understanding of C/C++ and object-oriented programming, you should be able to grasp the concepts within a few minutes of thinking around.

O’Reilly has put a lot of work into the index. If you are looking for something, you will usually be able to find the relevant piece of text very quickly.

Please let me put this in writing once again: you are NOT able to learn C++ from this book. Novices, look elsewhere! People familiar with Java may have a chance, but are also advised to look elsewhere.

Text-wise, there is nothing to bicker about. The book is clear (for a reference), and contains enough tables and graphs to visualize stuff where needed:
inside OReilly C++ Pocket Reference   the review

Cutting a long story short: the 10$ this book costs are well invested, especially if you tend to program offline a lot (netbook) and have a nasty habit of forgetting rarely used syntax elements. The book covers all important things except for using C code in C++ programs – this is a purchase you will not regret IF you are already proficient in C and have at least basic knowledge of object-oriented programming.

Microsoft C# is a difficult language: its neither C, C++ nor Java, but looks similar to all three of them. It nevertheless provides an easier transitional path to .NET for people who know C or Java (for them, VB is completely new) – can APress’s Beginning C# 2008 show you the way?
front Beginning C# 2008   the review back Beginning C# 2008   the review

The book starts out by looking at the basics of the .NET framework – what is CIL, why are things implemented the way they are and so on. The next two chapters look at variables and strings: this is not ideal for beginners, as it does not allow you to start coding immediately.

Want to find out more? Visit our sister site TamsPPC:
http://tamsppc.tamoggemon.com/2009/08/11/beginning-c-2008-the-review/

O’Reilly’s classic Designing Interfaces scored a rave review on TamsPalm some time ago. Designing Gestural Interfaces is from the same series – can it impress me as much as the forefather?
front Designing Gestural Interfaces   the review back Designing Gestural Interfaces   the review

Dan Saffer starts put by looking at the history of user interaction and the physiological principles behind UI. His summary is well-done, but contains nothing which is new for a seasoned UI designer – not bad to have, but no selling point here.

After that, the book starts out by presenting finger and whole-body gestures which are “common” in Western cultures. People looking for a reference of gestures will be happy with this part – but if your OS vendor already specifies gestures, his UI rules are the ones to follow.

The last chapters of the book look at various development process-related things: how to test gestures, how to document them and what to expect in the future. People wanting to develop mobile apps will benefit a bit from the testing stuff, although a good beta test should be mostly straightforward.

The appendix contains an even larger list of gestures – if you are looking for a gesture dictionary, getting the book definitely pays out.

Like most other O’Reilly works, Designing Gestural interfaces is easy to read. It furthermore contains loads of photos, snapshots and sketches – an example page is below:
inside Designing Gestural Interfaces   the review

In the end, Designing Gestural Interfaces definitely is not a bad book. However, most of its contents are of limited value to the average mobile developer. If you aren’t into virtual reality / winning a motion-game contest, the steep asking price of 43$ can definitely be spent better elsewhere…

When developing software, you always need graphics. Application icons, esd promo pictures or ads – code is not enough. Graphists tend to look cheap at first glance, but become incredibly espenaive as time goes by – which makes creating graphics yourself economically viable.

GNU’s image manipulation software (GIMP) is free…but is not particularly intuitive. Can Akkana Peck’s book fix you up?
p Beginning GIMP   the review b Beginning GIMP   the review

Beginning GIMP starts out with a thorough introduction to the basics of image editing. Even though most of this should not be new to seasoned developers, it nevertheless makes for an interesting read…and leaves you well prepared for the first steps into large-scale image manipulation.

Once these basics are done, Beginning GIMP moves on to looking at the creation of new images using GIMP. Topics covered include nasties like layers, paths and feathered selections. The explanations are presented in a down-to-earth way, and are understandable even for non-mathematical heads.

Akkana’s GIMP tour ends with a look at filters, layer compositions and other artistic stuff. The book then ends with a few appendices looking at various technical topics related co compiling and installation on various platforms.

Like most other APress books, Beginning GIMP is a pleasure to read. Paper quality is exceptional, the text is clearly written and the images make understanding stuff easy. The index is pretty good, too – looking something up on the go is more than comfortable.
f Beginning GIMP   the review

In the end, Beginning GIMP is one book which definitely belong on your desk. Its price pays off the moment you fire up GIMP for the first time and save the money needed for a graphist and a PhotoShop license. The clearly-written text will have you cooking up images in no time – the price of 32$ is a sound investment…

My trusty Jaybird JB200 bluetooth headset did not survive a recent surprise encounter with a washing machine…while I was perfectly happy with the headset, I decided to give wired headphones another shot. As Apple’s headphones were reasonably cheap and included a microphone, I wanted to give them a shot.

Plugging them in required an unnatural amount of force, and getting them back out of my device turned out to be impossible due to the soft and rubbery finish of both plug and cable. But they were detected as headset at the least.

Unfortunately, this recognition did not mean much. Audio was tinny all the time except when I kept the center button of the remote firmly pressed…the moment I let go of the button, tracks once again sounded like they were being played back through a thick wall of fog.

From my point of view, the 30 Euros invested turned out to be a major waste – 5 Euro headsets will likely deliver better audio quality than these when paired up with an X1 or similar non-Apple handset. Apple: this pair of headphones goes straight back to the shop where I bought them. In case anyone of you is in a similar situation: stay far away from Apple’s Earphones with Remote and Mic.

There are a lot of Treo cases on the market but how about a case which can be customized by you?
Well, if you search for such a case you should have a look at cases by Fortte. I tested the Leather PDA Case Lateral Pouch for Palm® Treo™ 650 for some weeks. The price for the case starts at $24.99. When purchasing you have got many possibilities to customize your case:
You can choose the color, the type of the clip at the back (fixed clip, belt loop, wrist strap, Heavy Duty Removable Ratchet Clip, Removable Low Profile Ratchet Clip or without any clip), the style of the Fortte logo, and if you want, a personal embossing.
I’ve choosen the following “configuration”:

- color: Navy Blue (+10$)
- clip: belt loop (+4$)
- style of the Fortte logo: Silver Tone
- no personalization
________________
whole case: $ 38.99

Finally the case looks like that:
100 2577 300x225 A stylish case for your Treo

The Treo fits exactly into the case and stays there, even if you open it and hold it upside-down:
100_2577
100 2579 300x225 A stylish case for your Treo
100 2580 300x225 A stylish case for your Treo

When the Treo is inserted, the case stays small and handy. In that way you nearly won’t realize that it is there when it is attached to your belt.
100 2581 300x225 A stylish case for your Treo

And that’s how it looks from the back:
100 2582 300x225 A stylish case for your Treo

During my test I noted the following things:
Pros:
- very durable and significant case (made from real leather)
- stylish look and feel
- small in size

Cons:
- As the case is opened on the top it can be difficult to get your Treo when the case is under your jacket
- The case has no place for a SD card. So you have to look for an alternative place when you use more than one SD card.

The case is available via Fortte – the price starts at $24.99. In my opinion the case is worth its money :D
http://www.fortte.com/scr/showproduct.php/9?type=0

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