Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palm Bluetooth SD Card Review

Palm BT SD card review

By default the m515 doesn't provide Bluetooth functionality. You need a separate SDIO card from Palm (made by Toshiba) which I'm sure wasn't cheap back in 2002. As you can see from the photo, the card is almost twice the size of a regular SD memory card and as such it sticks out of the SD slot quite a bit. However, for the majority of Palm users this shouldn't be an issue.

Before you can use the BT card you'll need to install software from the included CD which contains the following apps:
  • BlueBoard (share doodles via BT)
  • BlueChat (chat via BT)
  • Bluetooth (BT Wizard)
  • BT Print 995c
  • WAP Browser

In theory you should be able to:
  • hotsync to your PC/laptop
  • connect to the Internet using GPRS
  • send/recieve SMS's
  • dial phone numbers
  • print
As it turns out, not everything is so simple for us, Nokia owners. Palm only provides drivers for Nokia 6310i and Nokia 6210 phones while 6310i is the only one with integrated Bluetooth. This means that if you own any other Nokia phone but the 6310i, you won't be able to use any services which require 'Remote SIM Access' via Bluetooth. I must say I'm very disappointed with Palm and their lack of support in the form of new drivers.

NOTE: I was able to use the SMS app with my Nokia 6021 but only via IrDA and using the Nokia 6210 driver.

Palm BT and GPRS
Setting up a GPRS connection isn't very hard and works fine even on my Nokia 6021 as long as I set it up as a modem, not a phone. Trying to set it up as a phone ends in failure. A guide on setting up the GPRS connection will follow shortly.

The Palm BT SD card is not a bad product but leaves much to be desired. The biggest two questions for me are why aren't there new drivers for Nokia phones and why doesn't the card work with Palm OS 5.x?

+ simple installation
+ hotsync wirelessly
+ Internet access through GPRS
- sticks out of the PDA
- lack of GSM drivers
- doesn't work with OS 5.x

GPRS Madness

Palm m515
My first goal was to establish a GPRS connection via Bluetooth using Nokia 6021 and Palm m515. This took longer than expected since it took me ages to figure out what I was doing wrong while the solution was obvious. Every time I tried to establish a connection to the phone, the phone kept asking me whether I wanted to allow remote SIM access. I should have known this wasn't right the first time I saw the message! After browsing through dozens of websites it finally dawned on me. The m515 was trying to access the SIM card! Unfortunately Palm hasn't made drivers for 6021 so you can't send/recieve SMS or dial via Bluetooth. You can however use GPRS. All I had to do was choose 'Modem' instead of 'Phone' in the connection properties and add a connection string and it worked! A guide with screenshots is in the making.

HP Jornada 728
Setting up a GPRS connection via IrDA using the above mentioned phone and the Jornada 728 was simple thanks to this step-by-step guide from HP: HP Jornada 720 - Setting up a GPRS Connection.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HPC Battery Test

Since I'm travelling to Portugal soon and my Jornada 728 is coming with me, I decided to test its battery. I did that by playing an m3u playlist over and over. The result was close to 6 and a half hours of playtime while the screen was off about two thirds of the time. I'm quite happy with the result although the testing method may not be the most accurate one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Palm m515 review

After a week's use, here's my impression of the Palm m515.

At just 11.38 x 7.70 x 1.27cm this PDA is smaller than my wallet and only weighs 139 grams. As such it's probably still one of the smallest PDAs out there. You can put it in your pocket and after a while forget it's even there. The screen is a 160x160 pixel backlit color display and unsurprisingly seems dim compared to modern PDA devices. However, it's viewable indoors as well as outdoors even with the backlight off.

Small yet capable

The Palm m515 comes with Palm OS 4.1 preinstalled which includes all those nifty apps like To-Do List, Calendar, Memos, Address Book etc. For additional software you'll have to search the Net. I suggest you try http://freewarepalm.com/ for starters. So far I only installed Eudora Internet Suite 2.1 which is freeware and it works great with my GPRS enabled phone. Haven't tried the Eudora browser yet but at 160x160 I don't expect it to be of much use with regular web pages.

As far as connectivity goes the Palm m515 only offers IrDA and USB cradle/cable out of the box. For Windows XP I strongly recommend you install Palm Desktop 4.1 which will help you sync with the PC. You will also need it to install software and drivers. While IrDA is OK for syncing, it's unbelievably slow when it comes to installing applications. It took me about 20 minutes to install EIS and this is simply unacceptable. I believe using the cradle to do this would be a much faster option but I haven't tested it yet.

Thankfully the m515 has an SD/MMC slot which accepts memory cards and Palm BT card. It's unknown to me whether or not you can use the Palm WiFi card with this particular model but my guess is no. At the moment the slot in my unit is occupied by a 32 MB Palm SD card. I also ordered a Palm BT card recently so I can pair it with my phone when I need Internet access and don't want to use IrDA. The Palm Portable Keyboard provides a surprisingly comfortable alternative to Grafiti input especially when you need to write longer texts.

Battery and Conclusion
Considering the fact I bought a used unit, I must say I'm quite happy with the battery. When fully charged it lasts about 3 hours on full brightness. The m515 uses minimum power while switched off and it can be left turned off for days without the fear of losing your data. I usually charge mine once or twice a week, depending on how much I use it.

To make a long story short, I'm very happy with what I've got. Built-in Bluetooth would be great but hey, you can't have it all!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Palm m515

As my IBM WorkPad C3 recently suffered a complete battery failure and I needed a replacement, I went hunting on eBay. For 37€ I bought a pretty nice Palm m515, a leather case and a wallet, a 32 MB Palm SD card, DataViz Office 6 and a Palm foldable keyboard. All in all not a bad deal and it all seems to work fine.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Flea Market Finds #6

Yesterday I picked up an external ZX Spectrum keyboard and two Game & Watch games (Mario Bros, Donkey Kong II - boxed). It would seem I should have picked up the Spectrum as well because I'm missing two flat cables that go from the edge connector to the mainboard keyboard connectors. It's pointless thinking about it now because the Speccy was sold less than an hour after I bought the keyboard. I will obviously have to produce the cables myself although I have no idea how I'm going to connect them to the mainboard. Soldering the cables directly to the motherboard is out of the question. Tried googling for more info on the keyboard with no success.

Spectrum Professional Keyboard