When I got my WristPDA, I never inserted its CD into my workstation’s drive. However, since I now want to start reviewing WristPDA software, it was time to try to get the driver files off the CD(more on that another day) – and oh wonder, the WristPDA ships with a single but very useful third party program on the CD – CIC’s WordComplete!

You can find WordComplete on the WristPDA CD under the following path:
ENG3rdPartyAppsCIC WordCompleteWord Comp.prc

If that isn’t a pleasant surprise….

The Fossil WristPDA has 8 megabytes of RAM – this was extremely much a few years ago(in the days of the Palm m5xx series, for example). However, the WristPDA does not support VFS – so, Palm OS applications that demand an SD or MMC card can not work on the WristPDA. Installing a RAM disk application doesnt work either, as the WristPDA lacks the Palm OS expansion manager – but Alexander Gratz and I managed to fix that up!

The first step involves installing the VFS manager from a Palm OS 4 PDA. Get the following files(for an english WristPDA), and install them:

  • Card Info.prc(optional)
  • Card Info_enUS.prc(optional)
  • ExpansionMgr.prc
  • ExpansionMgr_enUS.prc
  • FATFS.prc

Afterwards, you need a RAM Disk aplication. RAM Disk applications snatch up a bit of RAM, and then make the Palm OS believe this area of RAM is a memory stick or SD card. We decided to use RAM Disk from Handwatch, and it worked really well – the picture below shows Card Info running on the WristPDA:
 VFS for WristPDA
The launcher supports launching programs from card, however, it does not support moving files over, etc. Use a freeware like FileZ to accomplish that, and all should be done!

The WristPDA was the first Palm OS watch – but Seiko already had a smart watch back in 1984. Obviously, it was waay bigger than our beloved WristPDA – but it actually had a nice keyboard…

Look at it here:


The Fossil WristPDA is a very funky Palm OS device – however its OS has a few nasty little bugs. Sabre Golly from the WristPDA mailing list at Yahoo’s has recently made me aware of a serious bug in the WristPDA’s handling of 2 bit greyscale.

Basically, when in 4 greyscale mode, the two “intermediate” greyscales are not created by switching pixels on and off, but rather by “dithering” them together from black, grey(!!) and white lines. This leads to prety ugly graphics which make your game/application unenjoyable for WristPDA users.

Please look at the two images below(click on them for a bigger version) to understand what we mean:

2bit mode – buggy: WristPDA 2bit greyscale quirk   developers beware!

4bit mode – works ok: WristPDA 2bit greyscale quirk   developers beware!

As of now, the only workaround that we know about is to refrain from using 2bit greyscale in your WristPDA enabled programs. 4bit greyscale obviously works well – so why not simply go for that instead…

You may still recall the WristPDA bug that I found a few weeks ago when updating Binary Clock for Palm OS.

Anyways, I now found out that sometimes, a soft reset is enough “kick” to make the WristPDA restore its alarm database…

Please forgive me for the format of this post, it is like 2 am and I spent at least 1h tracking down an especially nasty bug in my Fossil WristPDA. It all began with a maintenance release of Binary Clock v2(stay tuned, maintenance release coming soon) because of a little flaw reported in by a otherwise happy user. The Palm Tungsten T3 was synchronizing, so all I had was the Fossil WristPDA.

BinaryClock was on it, opened the affected Alarm form-and nothing. Woo-hoo….

After analyzing the watch for at least an hour, I found out that the WristPDA tends to forget its “alarm midis” over time. This means that it effectively forgets all of its alarm midis after a bit of time(dont ask me why that happens). So far, the only cure I know is a hard reset, but I’ll keep on investigating this!

Update: Sometimes, a soft reset can fix the problem too!

Readers repeatedly asked me about the size of the WristPDA’s screen.

In order to clarify this once and for all, the active area is 25mm times 25mm. And btw, yes, it’s 160×160 lowres, not 80×80 as said on Wikipedia. So, any LowRes compatible Palm OS application should run on your WristPDA without any problems!

Any more questions?

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Many readers asked for a ‘benchmark’ of the WristPDA’s screen. Here are comparison shots against a Palm V with various screen contrast levels:
contrast WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V contrast(01) WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V
contrast(02) WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V contrast(03) WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V
contrast(04) WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V contrast(05) WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V

The Palm V’s background is way more greenish, but the blacks also appear much more saturated. The WristPDA’s black looks ‘brown’ in comparison.

Here is a photo with backlights on. Please keep in mind that the photo was made with an SX1, so the screen brightness levels arent exactly on par. The Palm V is definitely darker than the WristPDA though!
contrast(11) WristPDA screen contrast shootout: WristPDA vs Palm V

Overall, it is hard to assess the WristPDA’s screen. The screen isn’t really bad, but it isn’t stunning either. If you have loads of bright light close to you, working with it is no real problem. If it is very dark, the backlight is pretty good as well. But if light is half-strong(the classic monochrome screen

buster), you’ll have problems reading small text(especially with a screen protector on).
What’s your mileage?

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About two and a half months have passed since I received my Fossil FX5008 WristPDA from David Zucker(thank you, buddy). Here are answers to a few questions that readers sent in:

Do you wear it as a watch every day?
To be perfectly honest, I wear it about 25% of the time. I never really was a watch person, so the milage that the WristPDA gets is actually very high. However, you should add in that it is empty 50% of the time I carry it around!

What apps do you run on it
Um, the built in ones. I sometimes use the WristPDA as a handy little calculator, and of course as a watch. The integrated watch faces to a very good job for me btw, so no extra software on the machine!

However, text entry or longer work is a real pain, as the screen is way to small and has a very weak contrast! In fact, the WristPDA didnt even get HotSynced yet! Ah, and I played The Prison on it once!

How is the screen
Dim, rather bad contrast. It is pretty usable, but you shouldnt put one of your homemade screen protectors on it…

Would you purchase it again
At 60$, probably yes. The watch is a funky acceccoire to show off at parties and um, having a computer on your wrist is just insane.

What mileage did you get out of your WristPDA?

Micro hotsync cables are very handy, as they save you a lot of storage space in your jacket pocket,… . Since those cables exist for, um, almost every system, finding them usually is no problem either. However, the world looks different for the WristPDA, as none are available for it..

However, Alexander Panek and I discussed the problem at a Burger King, and suddenly, we had the idea. The WristPDA has a Mini USB port just like the E, so why not plug sth for the E in. And alas, it worked:
 Boxwave MiniSync for WristPDA (aka Tungsten E)
The MiniSync with Charger is very small and can be carried around easily. This image shows it next to a Tungsten E2 and a Tungsten T3:
 Boxwave MiniSync for WristPDA (aka Tungsten E)  Boxwave MiniSync for WristPDA (aka Tungsten E)
It can be expanded in 5 steps. Compacting it again is pretty easy as well, you just need to pull both ends simultaneously and then let them loose. Failure to pull both ends simultaneously ruins the device, so better be warned though! The length steps are:

Docking the WristPDA to it is no problem, the machine starts charging immediately. The charging rate is exactly what you expect from an USB-Only charger-the MiniSync obviously cant perform the voltage peak a WristPDA needs for full speed charging without frying attached TE’s.
 Boxwave MiniSync for WristPDA (aka Tungsten E)
The lack of a hotsync-capable machine made further testing impossible, but the WristPDA was able to “bug” a Windows XP machine so far that it asked for drivers. So, communication should be possible as well.

Overall, this thing comes in handy when you are on the go. The cable that ships with the WristPDA is way to long and bulky to carry it around comfortably with your notebook-the MiniSync is much smaller and can be taken almost everywhere. The mechanics feel very well, it looks as if the MiniSync will survive quite a few cycles. To cut a long story short- a must have if you travel around much!

Just in case you still need a cool watchface app for your WristPDA-here is a lovely list of a few.

While it may not cover absolutely every watch face on the planet, it definitely gives you a good scoop of whats possible for the WristPDA. Now try doing that with that analog watch of yours, buddy!

WristPDA Watch face list

People who switch to the Fossil WristPDA from a Palm branded device will probably lack the freehand NotePad application. But this can be fixed easily!

Beam the following files over from a Palm V with the OS4 upgrade-a m500/m125 shouldn’t be a problem either. Install FileZ on the source machine to beam the files-using the internal launcher won’t work! You will need about 150k of memory for the installation, Note Pad gobbles up a bit more than 60k after installation!

  • Note Pad
  • Note Pad_enUS

After that, the WristPDA ran Notepad just like a Palm V

BTW1; better stick to an OS4 box. The OS5 apps won’t work imho!
BTW2;Jot should be disabled before taking a note!

The first challenge that a WristPDA owner faces is resetting the unit. There is no hole in the back of the unit, so it looks as if there is no button.

So, the first step involves finding the reset hole of the WristPDA. It is next to the USB door!

Stabbing the button with the stylus of the WristPDA leads to a softreset, as we already know it from Palm OS 4 handhelds.

A hardreset is not really difficult either. However, it pays out to take the WristPDA off your arm to have better access to the unit. Then, you press the rocker center and stab the unit into the reset pin while you keep the rocker button pressed. A menu will appear, and you then have to press either the page up or the rocker up button depending on your model(mine took page up).

Overall, resetting the WristPDA is very simple-once you know how:).

Mike Lake likes his Abacus WristPDA. However, the short battery life annoyed hell out of him.

He decided to fix the problem on his own by mounting an external battery to the bottom of the unit, essentially doubling the battery life. In addition, he also managed to exchange the piezo element to make the WristPDA louder.

You can find more detail about his extraordinary hacks here:

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