Even though our lab WristPDA has long died (dead battery), it is still fondly remembered at funerals, opera houses and other places of no-phone dullness.

Robert Scoble now got wind of the concept pictured below:
new wristpda Fossil plans external screen watch for phones

This 200$ device would act as a second screen to your phone, displaying all kinds of data like incoming email, etc. The difference to the WristPDA is short and sweet: it contains no intelligence of its own…

Longterm followers of TamsPalm will probably still recall Fossil’s infamous WristPDA – this PalmOS-powered device failed miserably, but paved the road for other devices which succeeded it. In China, such devices have been for sale for quite some time…and the Canadian firm Neutrano seems to be hell-bent on importing them to the USA and Europe and getting them certified.

They are currently evaluating various models in price ranges from 300 to 400$ – hit this link to see a little gallery of what they are working on!

Fossil discontinued the production of its (in)famous WristPDA some time ago – now, the Microsoft SPOT-powered watches are said to follow suit. Jon Canan, the program director recently stated the following:

As of recently, the Smart Watches with MSN Direct have sold out and are no longer for sale. While we continue to move forward with MSN Direct and seeking out new opportunities for devices that would benefit from the MSN Direct service, we, along with our watch partners, do not have immediate plans to create a new version of the Smart Watch, as we are focused on other areas of our business. We will maintain support of our watch customers and continue to deliver information to the watches, but we do not plan to increase our investment in the watch business going forward.

We have appreciated all of the comments and feedback that the SPOTStop community has provided – and this feedback has been incorporated in every step of the way as we develop new products and leverage our assets within the MSN Direct service. We are proud of the new products that have incorporated our technologies – MSN Direct for GPS navigation devices and MSN Direct for Windows Mobile, and it is encouraging to think that these grew out of the Smart Watch initiative – demonstrating great traction for Microsoft. We will continue to engage with this community and welcome any questions you may have…

So far, so good – looks like smart watches are now entirely in the hands of the fine folks at brando’s!

P.S. In case anyone of you wonders: SPOT watches are wristworn devices that are connected to some sort of FM network(existing only in the USA). This then pushes out various bits of data(weather, etc) onto the devices…

According to users of the WristPDA mailing list, Fossil has recently taken the SDK for its PalmOS-based watch off line. In case anyone wants to download the WristPDA SDK, you can get it here(cached on tamoggemon.com):
http://tamoggemon.com/blog/contents/2007/December/thawpdasdk/PDA_SDK.zip

As for creating new applications for the WPDA(being completely honest) – I can not recommend this to anyone wanting to make money off his programs. The amount of active WristPDA users is getting smaller day by day; there are next to no sales anymore. On the other hand, if you just want a specific app to run on the WPDA(and get it running), please send us a press sample so that it can be reviewed.

P.s. Here’s a bit of further reading while the SDK is being downloaded:
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/07/22/fossiliswristpdadevice-causes-sys-0505-01092-error-on-non-wristpda-devices/
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/07/22/wristpda-button-handling-made-easy/
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com/2006/07/07/wristpda-2bit-greyscale-quirk-developers-beware/

When the Proporta Mobile Device Charger originally was reviewed, it didn’t really work with the Fossil/Abacus WristPDA. However, I recently experimented around with it a bit – and can now present the holy grail of WristPDA battery extensions…the extension to 3600mAH:
DSC06497t Getting the Proporta Mobile Device Charger to work with a WristPDA

Getting your WristPDA to work well with the MDC takes a bit of work though – if you don’t follow the following steps exactly, a hard reset can occur:

Step 1: recharge frequently
For me, the emptier the WristPDA becomes, the more likely it will crash when connected to the charger. Don’t ask me why this happens, but I usually recharge when the WristPDA gets down to approximately 30%.

Step 2: connect cable to MDC
Connect the charging cable(I used a Boxwave MiniSync) to the MDC. Do not connect the WristPDA!

Step 3: power on MDC
Press the small button on the MDC to turn it on. When the LED has become green, wait a few seconds.

Step 4: connect WPDA
Connect the WristPDA.

Step 5: watch
The MDC has internal power-off circuitry that powers it off when no power is drawn from it for some time. This is great for a regular handheld, but not for a WristPDA due to its deep-discharge quirk. So, keep an eye on the package to make sure that the MDC is powered on all the time. I have found out that running a watch face(I used my own Binary Clock for the tests) reduces the probability of a turnoff significantly…

Overall, I can now recharge my WristPDA on the go => no more data loss… . If you have a Proporta Mobile Device Charger and a WristPDA handy, what about telling us how you fared?

Palm Os users usually see the Fossil WristPDA(review) as the first smart watch – but this isn’t true. A variety of manufacturers attempted to create and market all kinds of smart watches – but Brando’s is the first one to offer video playback and voice recording in addition to MP3 playback! Looks like an ambitious set of features – how does the box fare in practice?

Package contents/shipping
Like all other Brando products, the MP4 watch ships in a large envelope via standard mail. The envelope contains a huge box that contains the watch, a US-Only charger, the USB cable, a set of headphones, the software CD and a miserable manual:
0a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 0b The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 0c The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 0d The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 0e The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 0f The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review

First impressions
Compared to the WristPDA, the Brando MP4 watch is quite a bit smaller, but also feels cheaper(especially the strap):
1a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 1b The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
The watch has three buttons on each side; they are comfortable to press. The left side has the standard 2’5inch headset jack, the right side has the proprietary USB connector(this is NOT miniUSB!!!):
2a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 2b The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review

The screen
Brando claims that the MP4 watch has a 128×128 pixel OLED screen. While I cant confirm the OLEDness from the outside, the screen has exceptionally high contrast(next to Treo 600):
3a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
Black really is black here – absolutely no residue light:
4a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
I tested the screen indoors and in mild sun, and had absolutely no problems. While the screen could maybe have been a tiny bit brighter, it does a very very good job overall!

Navigation
The watch has a highly hierarchical menu system that has a graphical top layer:
5a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 5b The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 5c The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 5d The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 5e The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
Navigating through the menus can be difficult at times as key layouts change dependant on the screen – it took me about 20 minutes to figure it all out.

The menu system itself is very very fast – absolutely no lag here. However, long song names scroll by slowly – this could have been solved better maybe:
8a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review

MP3 playback
The main feature of this watch IMHO is its ability to play back media. I installed a few MP3 files onto it and had no problems with the various standard bandwidths(128k, 192k, 260k). 320k files stutter every now and then – a bit annoying, but the stuttering stops when the watch goes into “sleep” mode after a few seconds.

The player interface itself is simple – you see the time remaining, the name of the song and how many songs are in the folder. When one folder is complete, the watch simply switches over to the next folder – shuffle, custom playlists, etc are not available:
7a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
Forwarding and rewinding a song takes a very long time, as the watch keeps rewinding with an ever-constant rate of about 3 secs per real second. Also, finding tracks in folders is difficult because of the slow scroll speed of the file names:
8a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review

Voice recording
The MPEG4 watch can record audio – an impressive feature for such a small device. The quality of the recordings is very high, an hour takes about 60 megabytes of storage.

Here is a sample of a recording.

Photo viewing
Brando claims that the MP4 watch can act as a photo viewer. I installed a few small JPEGs onto it – bummer, no go!

Images need to be converted to RAW format with a desktop software. They can then be displayed one by one on the watch’s screen – and that’s it. No zooming, panning, etc is supported:
9a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review

Video playback
Video playback works via a converter, too. A classic VGA review video from a digital camera grew by almost 50% when converted to the NXV format(128×128) – the main problem is that the videos format was adjusted to be fullscreen compatible. So, a rectangular video gets square – but it still looks pretty well.

Choosing a better-fitting aspect ratio in the converter works – but you then have to put up with a white area at the bottom:
10a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
Conversion takes place in real-time – converting a 50 second video takes 50 seconds..

Transferring data
Getting data onto the MP4 watch is simple if you have the connector cable handy – connect the watch to the PC and it automatically starts charging:
11a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review
When data is being transferred, the watch shows transfer on the status monitor – data transfers work with about half a megabyte per second.

Headphones
The included headphones provide good audio quality. However, I prefer my Icemat headphones in combination with Brando’s headphone adaptor. Audio is more than loud enough for most genres – no problems in this department either!
12a The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review 12b The Brando MP4 Watch – The Review

Overall impression
Being the smart watch freak that I am, this watch is an immediate buy(1GB version costs 99$, 2GB cost 139$). The software could still use a bit of fine-tuning(occasional crashes, quirky handling, extra features) and the manual is a joke – but other than that, I cannot complain about this “watch”.

Videos look good, audio is clear, the battery holds a decent charge(5h of MP3 playback are no problem) – if you like the idea of a watch that plays movies, get this one by all means!

The Fossil WristPDA is a very cool device(TamsPalm review here) – but it has its problems too. One of the most annoying ones occurs in combination with the Boxwave MiniSync.

Leaving the WristPDA connected to a powered-off PC(one that doesnt have standby USB power like the Peluga branded machines do) overnight leaves you with a dead WristPDA. Leaving it connected to the MiniSync alone seems to have the same effect!

Disconnect your WristPDA Charger from the WristPDA when not pumping in power – the battery will thank you for it!

Did something similar happen to you yet?

Gadget addiction is a very bad problem for me – when I see a new gadget, I usually try to buy it asap…and then use it to death. I stopped using the WristPDA quite some time ago, but am back to it now for a simple reason: OnBoardC.

My old programming box was a dual screen machine – and I almost always had PODS open on both screens in one sort or the other. When using the notebook, the Treo permanently runs Plucker displaying the API documentation. But when coding on the go with the Treo, I need a comfortable second screen – enter WristPDA.

Sitting comfortably round my left wrist(military style), I either run SrcEdit or Plucker on it all the time. Thus, when I need an API def or sth similar, all I need to do is look down…and tada!

For an OnBoardC programmer, getting a second handheld is more-less a must if you want to work dual-screened. The WristPDA may not be the cheapest option, but is very convinient as it doesnt lock up a hand and a shirt pocket.

What do you think?

The Palm OS spreadsheet market has recently become a twoman show(imho) – Dataviz against Mobisystems, with Cesinc beeing on the way out(imho). Each of these suites can do loads of things – but they are incredibly heavy filesize-wise.and most of the included features(native file support) aren’t useful for WristPDA users. MiniCalc is not a doitall product – it focusses on the gist of Excel and thus is small and fast…

When starting MiniCalc, one immediately sees that the developer has thought about ease of use – you can either look at a list of books, or look at the individual sheets:
books MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA sheets MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA
After opening a sheet, the good impression continues. A variety of zoom levels allow you to customize your view:
zoomdef MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA zoomin MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA zoommax MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA
The editing screen itself is full of gadgets that help navigate/enter data. Tapping the gadgets requires a bit of dexterity-but the useful features pay out. For example, you get a popover numeric keyboard, a text box that shows more field contents and a variety of scroll modes:
gad1 MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA gad2 MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA
The spreadsheet itself fared well in my test. All necessary functions are there, the calculations work fast and well. Formatting output was no problem either – the calculation shown below will be too familiar to Palm OS developers:
devcalc MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA
MiniCalc contains an optional chart module that produces acceptable charts on the go:
ch1 MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA ch2 MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA chs MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA
MiniCalc is totally modular – you can remove unneeded functions to save space(!!!):
lib MiniCalc review   Excel for WristPDA

This review covered MiniCalc version 7.2.2 on an Abacus AU5008 WristPda. Fully installed, the program takes up about 300k, but can be slimmed down. The products homepage is:
http://www.solutionsinhand.com/

MiniCalc contains a desktop conduit as well – however, this review focusses on the handheld component. A 15day demo version is available though – so try it out before buying!

Overall, SolutionsInHand did a great job with MiniCalc. The program is very small but still flexible enough for almost every Excel task. If you need a spreadsheet for your WristPDA and can miss out on native file support, this could be your ideal app!
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TamsPalm’s Alexander Gratz was the first to “backport” PalmOne’s Palm OS Garnet PIM’s to older OS4 devices.

Now, Theo Poon apperently continued where we stopped, and moved them over to the WristPDA:
http://theopoon.rinnovative.com/cgi-bin/viewpost.cgi?p=20051203010938

Add in PalmOne Favourites and you have one more happy user…

This is a quick hint to all WristPDA users and developers – forget the ronamatic stroke! The WristPDA does not support it!

The Fossil WristPDA SDK advices developers to use a FossilIsWristPDADevice call to determine if the device that their application currently runs on is a WristPDA. I tried this, and it didnt work – at all! Both Palm Tungsten T3 and Simulator died producing an error mesage saying (Sys 0505) (0,1092).

Anyways, I can propose you a better solution:

Boolean isWpda()
{
UInt32 foo;
if(WPdaGetVersion(&foo)==errNone)
{
return true;
}
return false;
}

This function works perfectly well on every machine I could get my hands on. So, use that instead of FossilIsWristPDADevice from now on!

One of the most common hotsync problems with the WristPDA is that one can’t easily install its Palm Desktop on a machine where there already is a Palm desktop for another kind of handheld like a Tungsten T3. The Palm driver files all have the same name, and thus overwrite one another.

However, this isn’t neccecary. I have my WristPDA and my Palm Tungsten T3 hotsyncing against the same Outlook profile on my Medion Win2k workstation – and this is how I did it.

Step one – find drivers
The drivers for your WristPDA can be found on the CD-ROM that accompanied it. They are in the subfolder DriversWin2K_XP. Copy the three files onto your hard disk(put them in a subfolder of C: for best results).

Step two – make drivers coexist with Palm/Sony/foo drivers
The problem that we have with the WristPDA drivers is that they have the same name as the Palm drivers, and thus replace them. So, we need to rename our driver files as following:

PalmUSBD.sys becomes FossUSBD.sys
USBTransport.dll becomes FossUSBTransport.dll
PalmUSBD.inf becomes FossUSBD.inf

Step three – adjust Windows Driver install instructions
The INF file contains the instal instructions that your Windows box executes when installing a hardware. Open the inf file with Notepad, and use Search/Replace to do the following replacements:

PalmUSBD to FossUSBD
UsbTransport.dll to FossUSBTransport.dll

Step four – install the driver
Now, connect the WristPDA with your PC and start a hotsync procedure. The desktop PC will mention that a new hardware has been detected, and will ask you for a driver. Tell it that you want to chose the driver yourself, and choose the INF file that you created before(dont know exact menus as my box is german, sorry). A list of Palm OS devices will pop up, choose Fossil WristPDA and click OK.

If you execute these steps correctly(and I didnt forget anything from yesterday), your WristPDA and your other Palm handheld should coexist from now on. In fact, the PalmOne conduits even sync it with Outlook…

Updated to work around WristPDA API bug
Palm handhelds like the Tungsten T3(before the PalmOne 5way one-handed nav stuff I never quite liked) had a nifty feature – you pressed the center button of the 5way nav, and if the form contained a buton called OK, it was tapped automatically. Since Tam Hanna is a creature of habit, I wanted the enter button of the rocker of my WristPDA to do the same thing to open forms in Binary Clock for Palm OS.

After a quick check into the SDK I found out that Fossil has designated the back button for this task – no problem, lets handle both. Here is a bit of code that you can more-less cut and paste into the form handler of all forms where you want this behaviour(attention – you need the WristPDA SDK included and the user cant exit to the launcher from this form):


//This goes somewhere global
Boolean isWpda()
{
UInt32 foo;
if(WPdaGetVersion(&foo)==errNone)
{
return true;
}
return false;
}

//This goes into frmOpenEvent
if(isWpda())
{
FossilBackKeyModeSet(kFossilBackKeyLauncher);
}

//And this goes into the event loop of the form handler
case keyDownEvent:
//For WristPDA
if(pEvent->data.keyDown.chr==vchrHardRockerEnter || pEvent->data.keyDown.chr==vchrHardBack)
{
EventType event;
event.eType=ctlSelectEvent;
event.data.ctlSelect.controlID=OK;
EvtAddEventToQueue(&event);
FossilBackKeyModeSet(kFossilBackKeyStopEvent);
handled=true;
}
break;

There is little to be explained here – enjoy!

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