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Handhelds Hardware

Palm In Trouble? 205

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the invent-a-market-and-lose-to-a-monoploy dept.
spblat writes "News.com reports that Palm, Inc. is in a bit of a spot. A hardware glut, a portal that's losing money, an OS licensing model that doesn't generate enough revenue, oh my! Could this be the beginning of the end for Palm?" Apparently people aren't buying as many Palms now that the economy has slowed down. To say nothing of the fact that many Wince devices are better. Still waiting to see the latest Sony Clie to see if PalmOS can catch up.
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Palm In Trouble?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think the death of Palm started when the good people left to form Handspring. Every since then its just been "palm 3 knockoff of the week" and they still have yet to make a color Palm V. My biggest issue is how fragile all of their products are, and other than the Palm V, most of them are quite bulky. They finally have color but lower resolution than the PocketPC devices. Not to mention their lame model numbering...they should not have named the wireless one VII...you see now they've abandonded the whole scheme anyway going with m series...I guess that is an admission that they are a bunch of idiots. Oh, they never reply to their email either.
  • Let's see.. the Palm OS accounts for 89% [cnet.com] of the retail market.. And, that's a problem?

    Alex Bischoff
  • Thank you, Zico -- don't forget to ask for a raise in Microsoft PR department.
  • Except that it doesn't "open" MS Office files. No handheld ever was capable of using Office files, unless you count Libretto. Conduits translate files when transferring them to/from handhelds, using simplified format on the handheld. That can be (and was) easily done with any platform, but Microsoft used its trademarks to make it appear as if real Office runs on the devices. People think so -- until they buy the devices and see that they do much less than the demos implied, and that there is no clean round trip when files were edited on the handheld.
  • It's just post-bubble corporate capitalism. That's all. The natural course of events is for the companies to knife each other until they are all horribly wounded or dead, and then collapse, leaving no goods or services and a minefield of patents.

    Note how I'm not really contradicting you here...

  • I got a $25 PIM (actually more of a $30 PIM). It had a little calculator-button keyboard, weak LCD character-based screen, and (!) green backlighting.

    It _also_ had a very annoying interface for entering notes and things, text handling and flow that was horrible, and though it runs on watch batteries it manages to drain them in a couple weeks with the PIM _off_- and since the batteries are not rechargeable... oh, and did I mention it is just slightly too big to fit comfortably in even a pants pocket?

    After the stupid thing ran out of batteries _again_, I left it alone. And if I _ever_ get another PIM, it's gonna be a simple B/W screen Palm, period. Something where the interface hassles are at least vaguely justified, something that'll fit nicely in a pocket, something where the batteries don't run out like that! To hell with backlighting and the whole 'play like it's a tiny laptop' scene.

    What I'd really like to see is Palm figuring this out and coming up with some sort of minimal Palm Pilot that's extra tiny and extra long battery life- really pushing the limits of that, with the smallest amount of RAM people have found practicable in Palms (256, 512K? a meg?), perhaps with a underclocked CPU, say 8Mhz. Let's see something that'll go for _years_ on a battery, and fit in the change pocket of your wallet...

  • Most games SUCK when played on WinCE pdas. They're slow and rather laggy usually. Most of the good, playable games for WinCE have equally good counterparts on Palm, aside from the color. But now that we have color Palm and Handspring pdas, even that isn't an issue.

  • Just FYI: The Palm V/Vx uses a Li-Ion rechargable cell, not a NiMH.
    _____

    Sam: "That was needlessly cryptic."
  • Generally, I would say that the smaller form factor is the only reason I would go with the m505 over the EM500. Personally, since I wouldn't carry either around in my pocket all day, the large size isn't a big issue.

    When I hear words like "I don't carry my PDA in my pocket" I begin to wonder if the person actually *uses* their PDA or if it just sits on their shelf gathering dust. How do you carry it around with you if you don't put it in your pocket? (I carry my Handspring in my pocket nearly everywhere I go)

  • ..but from looking at them in stores, it doesn't look like that an IPAQ would fit in my pocket.As that's how I carry my Handspring around, the IPAQ is simply impractical for me. Sure, it is more powerful than a Visor. But a laptop is more powerful yet, and if I had to lug around something in a carrying case, I'd choose a laptop.
  • I suppose a belt clip is a possibility -- it would look rather geeky, but I suppose it would be truth-in-advertising.
  • by Jonathan (5011) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:33PM (#211248) Homepage
    Well, for me it gives me something to do on the subway to work -- I can read a book, play a game, look at my calendar and read the New York Times all on a device that I can put easily in my pocket (which is important to me because I rarely have a bag or briefcase with me). I don't think Internet capability is all that important because there are good off-line Web browsers -- I, for example, download the New York Times in html format using my PC, transfer it to my Handspring and can read it on the way to work. Much easier than having to deal with a physical newspaper on the subway.
  • by mtnbkr (8981) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @03:21PM (#211254)
    The power use issue isn't as bad as some would make it out to be. Since I didn't know how long it would go between recharges, I decided to not recharge my Casio E-125 until it started to use the backup battery (something the Compaq doesn't have, btw). With the screen on near max brightness, I got a full workweek out of it. For those who think a week isn't enough, the charger can be removed from the cradle for on the road charging and you can get spare batteries. Since it has a backup battery, you can swap main batteries without data loss. Not as good as a Palm, but good enough for me.

    I couldn't use it for a week with the modem, but it hasn't been an issue for me...yet.

    Chris
  • > Now, admittedly, prolly most WinCE machines have better *hardware* than most PalmOS systems.

    I wonder if this is the reason for most of WinCE device sales:

    1) J. Random Nerd buys WinCE machine.
    2) Nerd then purges existing OS, installs Linux.
    3) Nerd shows off accomplishment to friends, thus earning geek points.
    4) WinCE manufacturer reports sale to Microsoft, who thinks they are on the right track, & look for another VP to wage unwinnable PR war on the GPL.

    Geoff
  • Its just that the hardware speed and ability catches up with their software faster than they can screw it up.

    That I definitely agree upon. When Windows 98 first came out in May 1998, ATX-form factor machines using Slot 1 CPU's that ran Windows 98 decently fast were still expensive and relatively rare. But when hardware price dropped rapidly since then, today you can build from scratch a very nice machine that can run even Windows 2000 Professional decently fast for under US$500.
  • I think at the rate things are going, we might just see this happen: Sony will buy out both Palm and Handspring, merge Palm and Handspring, and the new entity becomes a Sony subsidiary. Future PDA's will say Palm by Sony marked on the case.
  • How the same group of geeks who gush at every totally impractical wiz-bang device that comes out, consistantly dismisses WinCE devices as a whole because of their BATTERY LIFE

    Battery life is very important, as you'll soon find out, neophyte. You'll be pining for a Palm when you realize what we in the know have already figured out: we didn't use the mp3 player or the internet browser, or the 32 megs, or the MAME, or the Nintendo Emulator. We didn't even take real advantage of the 320x240 screen.

    When you get to the level, where you leave the Wince POS in the desk because that's a more practical use for it than carrying it around, then you will understand that battery life is THE killer app, and Palm will be waiting for your $200 with open arms.
  • Lets see, they're using the Palm trademark. They are selling PDA's (Personal Drinking Assistant) so based on recent litigations i'd say Palm does have grounds for a civil suit.


    ---
  • How much exactly? Prove it.
  • I'm a Palm fan, but I've used/tried the smaller RIM pager, and I _love_ the keyboard and the wireless email. If I could get the PalmOS interface with a thumb keyboard and wireless email as good as RIM with a decent/battery friendly, that'd be truely awesome. [Color screens and such might be nice, but from a usage POV it would have little effect on me.] The only real barrier that I see is the form factor and battery. Part of RIM's strength is its heft and shape, but I don't see how you would squeeze a 160x160+ screen on a RIM without making it huge....also the battery issue is significant. RIM is a ALOT more battery intensive.

    That said, I can actually type 30+ words a minute on my Palm via the fitaly (keyboard) stamp, it's just a little more ackward than a RIM keyboard.
  • Yeah, I figured as much.
  • A Slashdot editor admitting MS makes a superior product?

    Let's look at what Rob said.

    Wince devices are better.

    The devices are better. Not the OS. Last time I checked MS didn't make the devices. Companies like HP, Casio, and Compaq make the devices. The fact that they run an MS OS is secondary.

    LK
  • The glut of inventory means that prices will probably be driven lower still soon.

    How does this help Palm survive? When you lower prices to clear out inventory, people buy the cheap older models and sales of your new models (i.e., the ones you actually depend on to remain a healthy business) are screwed.


    Cheers,

  • Sorry, but your view is too limited. The device is, by definition and name, a "Pocket PC." If I wanted only something to manage my personal information, I'd buy a $25 PIM, and well, Palm's priced itself out of that market. Why lug around a laptop when I don't need to in order to be able to do all the things a PocketPC can? I see all these poor chaps fumbling with theirs in airports and on planes, while I'm getting everything done that I want to with something that fits in the pocket of my shorts. If you want things to be difficult, go run your own life, okay? Some of us are having fun and getting things done, and you sound like someone with sour grapes who just can't stand to see it.


    Cheers,

  • Not long ago, I won an iPaq in a contest. It was the (at the time) top of the line model, the H3650, and came with the PCMCIA sleeve and the Compaq 802.11b wireless ethernet card. I thought it was amazing at first, but the honeymoon was very short-lived.

    • Organizationally, the PocketPC is a mess. You've got settings upon settings upon settings, half of them cross-linked with eachother in a seemingly endless web of preferences.
    • Battery life was dismal. A couple of days, not even using it and the battery was half dead.
    • It had the annoying habit of turning itself on every night at exactly midnight - I didn't ask it to do this, nor did I install any software that did either.
    • It was cool to be able to browse the web via the wireless card, but the pocket explorer left much to be desired in terms of rendering (scaling was awful, and no landscape option).
    • *Everything* for WinCE costs money. It's as if these people have never heard of free software. Yeah, like I'm going to pay $20 for some guy's stupid ping and traceroute utility.
    • Worst of all - I always felt like I needed to handle it extra gently. It feels like it's a very delicate piece of gear. I've never had that feeling about any Palm I've ever owned (Pro, III, V, IIIc and now m505).
    • Writing was AWFUL! I SO wanted my grafitti back

    The more I used the iPaq, the more I realized I love the Palm and wanted it back. I worked out a deal with someone at work that was drooling over the iPaq and traded the iPaq with the toys for a Palm m505 plus a few bucks. I think I made out MUCH better on this deal. Not only is the PalmOS better, PalmOS 4 kicks butt.
    --

  • I travel a lot and find it handy to have the Palm because I can load video games and electronic texts on it. Easiest way to carry a few books worth of short stories to read on the plane, without taking up any space or weight...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • by freq (15128) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:19AM (#211278) Homepage
    1. Hire consultants!
    2. Fire the CEO!
    3. Hire consultants to hire a new CEO! (preferably someone dynamic who's not afraid to axe all of our good employees!)
    4. Hire a new PR firm to issue a zillion press releases about our new CEO and our new direction
    5. Change everything just in time for the market to change again.

    (rinse, repeat)

  • by Grond (15515) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:45AM (#211282) Homepage
    The reason the Wince devices are finally catching up is that handheld technology has reached a point where Palm's philosophy of (relatively) cheap and simple is no longer necessary. Handhelds can have large storage, hi-res color graphics, accessory ports and the like and still have good battery life and be (again, relatively) cheap and useful.

    Many people have often pointed out that MS rarely gets anything right on the first try. But by the 3rd iteration or so, the competetion is in trouble. Look at Office, DirectX, and Windows itself. The Wince devices are entering their 3rd generation but Palm's are just now getting past their early limitations (storage space, expandability, and screen resolution being the major sticking points).

    Like 'Taco said, the next Clie and similar Palm devices are Palm's 'last, best hope' for keeping their dominant market position.

    (Working harder on cooperating with Handspring probably wouldn't hurt....)
  • by SoftwareJanitor (15983) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:35PM (#211283)
    Depends on what you want I suppose. My complaints against WinCE is that it basically requires a very fast processor and a lot of memory for a handheld because the environment is pretty fat, unlike a Palm. It also basically demands a color display because the user interface kinda stinks in monochrome, unlike a Palm. Those two things mean that WinCE devices tend to cost several times what a Palm of similar capabilities can, and also they have a lot shorter battery life, which is a pain in the butt. Most of the more powerful WinCE devices are also bigger and heavier than Palms are. And in my opinion, the Palm user interface is still better designed for a handheld than WinCE, probably because it really was designed from scratch for that sort of device and not carrying a lot of baggage from a desktop ancestor/sibling. There may be certain high end applications for which a WinCE device can do more than a Palm, but once you start getting into that area, you have to start looking at the smaller x86 notebooks instead of a WinCE device...

    So for my money, PalmOS is my choice over WinCE. Maybe a Linux based handheld in the future though, just because it would be cooler than hell and be more like my desktop... :-)

  • no color palm v? what the hell are you talking about?
    the m505 is basically a color palm v, with a faster processor, more ram, and a card slot.
  • This c|net article [cnet.com] states that Palm's market share slipped from 65% to 60.5% and Handspring's from 27% to 26%. It also says that the iPaq's market share has incredibly doubled... from 2% to 4%. This is hardly equivalent to iPaq cannibalizing Palm sales, and the numbers are exactly in line with my previous post.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • by KFury (19522) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @02:11PM (#211286) Homepage
    I don't think you can justify saying that Palm's losing money because of the superiority of WinCE devices when Palm-based PDAs still have a 85% market share of the PDA market, and that's new purchases, not just the installed base, which is even more favorable to Palm.

    No, if I had to guess I'd say the reason for the slowdown is because most people already have the palm that suits them, be it V/Vx, IIIx, m100, or VII, and the new models aren't enough to convince them to spend $300 for an incremental upgrade.

    Hardware expansion has always underdelivered on all the PDAs, so springboard, MMC, and MemoryStick slots don't carry enough incentive to upgrade.

    I love my palm, as does everyone I know who owns one. The problem is that we love the palms that we have, so we're not spending money to buy new ones.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • True, the devices themselves on which the WinCE platform runs are better, but that's because the WinCE platform demands all of that power! Why are 32, 64, even 128 meg RAM WinCE devices popping up, while the Palm lineup's biggest ones are 8 or 16 at the most? Because the applications on WinCE devices - the poorly designed, terrible-interface applications - suck up that much more RAM! My Visor Regular with 2 megs of RAM holds several day's worth of news from Wired and Suck.com, all the PIM and calendar programs I need to keep my day in line, all of the email in my inbox, several games, AND all of the software I need to get online, browse the web, telnet to my box at home, get email, and drive my keyboard. In 2 megs of RAM! And I still have perhaps 500K free at any time. All of this runs perfectly fast, by the way.

    Why, then, does the staff at Slashdot seem content to berate Palm's OS while recommending WinCE - even Linux based handheld computers, where the command line is standard! It doesn't make a bit of sense. If I have to wait even half a second for my handheld to "boot up", it's not doing it's job.

    Cheers,
    levine
  • Hm. No.

    I mean, I can see your points, but here's the thing: I never said anywhere that things should be difficult, and you never addressed any of my points aside from making vague and generalized personal comments. The purpose of these little devices is to make things easier, right? Then why bog down a simplifying product with all of this crud? Let's cut it down to this, and agree to disagree: the market for the "Pocket PC" is business. That's been proven. Business users demand simplicity, productivity, and reliability. Based on these things, Palm has it in the bag. This is also proven. The issue that this article discusses is one that we've deviated from, and this has continued for too long.

    Cheers,
    levine
  • You know what would be a killer Palm model? Something with the form factor of a V, along with the ability to plug in and play (even via adaptor) GBA games.

    It seems like it would be a smart move for Palm and Nintendo to work together on something like this.

    I only mention this because the only thing I've really thought of buying other than my Palm V has been a GBA, and it might be nice if they were combined. Then again, I don't often need a GBA but I always need my Palm V with me (carried about in the nigh-invulnerable hard case so I can keep it in my pocket with my keys).

    As for an MP3 player, if I want to play MP3's I'll just use my watch. What are you people thinking wanting MP3 players in a PDA? Baffling.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @08:36PM (#211293)
    I personally would like to see PDA's head in the direction of acting as a glarified "controller/interface" of electronic devices I place about my person - in that role, I see Palm as being a lot better suited than other PDA platforms.

    Palms are simple, have a great form factor with a minimal (but not too minimal) screen, and good connectivity options (with an IR, seral, and direct expansion ports). They would make the ideal small interface to manage just about any other small device I have on my person - they could manage images in a digital camera. They could manage images stored in a portable digital camera storage device (which I would love for someone to build, hello stupid companies!)

    Such a thing could show me details of how my engine was running that day. It could act as a master controller for my house. It could tell my cell phone to dial a particular number. It could present a larger interface for my thumbnail sized 400mb MP3 player so I can adjust my playlist on the fly and see what sond is currently playing.

    In short, I want my PDA to do almost nothing except provide a lightweight decently sized interface to all the other devices around me that have been miniturized beyond the point where they can present a usable interface. The PDA is something small enough that I always have with me (and perhaps never need to charge), even as all the other devices I carry around with me at different times change in features offered.
  • by GregWebb (26123) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:48PM (#211294)
    Psions.

    Last time I heard, true multitasking. My original 5 has 8 MB, the MX has 16 and an S7 32. All have larger screens. All have slower processors, too, though you wouldn't know most of the time.

    All have excellent battery life.

    Please remember, MS don't make the things! They might have come up with specs and the OS but not the hardware.

    I'm still baffled why anyone buys those CE things. An iPaq, which seems to be getting all the attention, is pretty much the same size as a Psion 5 for goodness' sakes!

    Microsoft and their partners might have some odd ideas about these things - but that doesn't mean that they've got everything wrong or that the PalmOS' level of simplicity is necessarily right, just that WinCE and its hardware isn't a particularly good idea in some ways.
  • The new iPaq has a battery that lasts much longer but...

    They took out the damned backup battery!

    Customers we have using iPaqs regularly call because they used the device on Friday, didn't return the device to the charging cradle until Monday, by which it has reverted to factory settings.

    The iPaq was SOOO close.

  • by BigDaddyJ (38640) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @01:27PM (#211301)
    Many of the Wince devices suffer from serious interface issues. Start button on a handheld, anyone???
    Actually, the Start button on a PocketPC works just like the Applications launcher on a Palm, but better. MS has fixed this issue quite well.
    Also, the power use issues on them won't go away. They have true multitasking, lots of memory and fast processors. While I'd normally say this is good, it is such a drain on batteries that they just can't hold up to Palm devices. They need big expensive batteries just to get acceptable lifespan, whereas Palms can last much longer on a single charge.
    No longer nearly as true. The m505 and the iPaq, for example, have similar battery life. Most lithium-ion devices have somewhere between 10-20 hours battery life. Admittedly, the Palms' simpler OS leads to smaller/simpler applications, so heavy usage may differ. But I've rarely had battery life issues with my iPaq.
    Making lightweight devices just isn't Micro$oft's strong point. The only way that Palm can lose is by making their new devices so expensive that they look like Wince competitors. Oh wait, they are doing that. Oh well, I can't help it if they hang themselves when they have the better product.
    Of course, the other consideration here is as powerful processors get cheaper and less power-hungry, the "visible" strikes against WinCE-based devices are less and less. Witness the StrongARM chip - it runs WinCE fast and has decent battery life. I don't hate the Palm per se - I used it for many years, and found it extremely useful in what it does - but MS is on its third generation, and history shows they usually get "close enough" to their competition before moving forward in one way or another.

    --bdj

  • 150 MHz MIPS processor, instead of 33 MHz

    How is this a feature? I could really care less how fast my PDA is, as long as it does it's job as a PDA. I've got a laptop for playing quake on, I don't need it on my PDA.

    More functionality out-of-the-box (spreadsheet, ect.) saving memory for many people

    Maybe you meant money there? I would tend to think that editing documents on a PDA would be a pain, you'd best just carry that laptop again. The only thing I (and seemingly many others) want a PDA for is a glorified notepad, period.

  • And god knows he needs more money fromt he likes of us.
  • Many people see a palm and think "ooh, computer that fits in your hand, how useless" ... some people can't shake the thought that it ought to do the same things that an ordinary computer ought to do.

    It's not meant for that. Something that size is exceptional for keeping bits of information that would otherwise be floating in a backpack.

    It's awesome for keeping track of phone numbers, appointments, notes, frequently accessed information (ex: SCR #'s that you use a lot) keeping a triplog for your car, a financial organizer, storing a grocery list (there is some totally awesome software for this that really makes comparison shopping easy and it can organize items by what row they're in, saving mucho time in the grocery store), or storing a map of an area you are traveling to.

    The ability to play a bit of minesweeper or solitare while waiting for something is an additional plus.

    You don't use these things at a table where you've got time on your handl; you open it, hit the power buttom, jot something down/look something up and put it back in your pocket within 10 seconds.

    It's a very sophisticated organizer, not a computer. Why anyone would want their organizer to play music or watch movies is beyond me.
  • DOS based, plenty of FREE software, enough processing power to type text and do serial communication, perfectly usable keyboard, PCMCIA slot, exceptional battery life.

    It is the most practical PDA that I have ever owned.

    I pity the fool who uses a stylus.
  • by Inoshiro (71693) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @01:14PM (#211311) Homepage
    These people cleary have no idea how to report on business. How can you say "Palm, a company that launched a very successful initial public offering just 14 months ago." with one breathe, then say "generating $1 billion a year in sales and was still enjoying 100 percent year-over-year growth.
    " in the next?

    But let's focus on the company itself. Why they are in trouble, and what can bo done to fix it.

    Palm, Inc has had some focus problems since USR (and later, 3com) bought them out. The initial device had great ideas, but they've only incrementally improved them since then. Bluetooth to control other devices (such as Cell, which cry out for a proper Palm interface), internal NiMH rechargeables (Palm V has this -- they all should), and a better software bundle (including a learning IrRemote) would add much to the value of the device.

    The new models won't sell. There are no new features which require upgrades. Even my Palm IIIe (limited to 2mb ram) is enough. The new m100 series are ugly, expensive, and don't offer an advantage to Palm II and Palm V users. Since the software is good, and the current harhdware is perfect, they need to add new features (again, cell phone control, tv/vcr/dvd control, etc, would be great). You may not pay 500$ for a toy organizer, but you'd pay for it if you could control your entertoinment centre, X.10 devices, cell phone, and more from one device which also happened to be a great organizer.

    Like 3Dfx, they want to do it all -- make the OS, maxe the device, provide CDPD access for Palm VII users, etc. And like 3Dfx, they are finding that their competitors (who can focus on the device, or the OS, etc) are eating their lunch. If they spun off the portal, ISP, and device making, they could become the MS of handhelds (but it's probably too late for that). If they focus on what they are good at (good software which should have little development costs, good hardware which can be mass produced), they will become profitable!

    They are too greedy. 500$ USD for what, exactly? An electronic organizer? The Palm IIIe sells for ~200$ Cdn. At that price, practically everyone can afford one (like VCRs or TVs). If Palm could lower prices and raise awareness, they could bring a lot more customers into the fold. And they could also add features to the higher ond models which some customers would love!

    Palm computing has all the right stuff for success. It's still fairly young for a business on its own (and everynew business is guaranteed 5 years of hardship when they start, before the kinks are worked out). If they focus on their target consumers (think executives and college students), then add features that power users and professionals want (on the higher end), they can have a comprehensive product line. And if they ditch the overhead of the rest of their company (portals, ISP service), they can make a killing.

    A renamed Palm III in an uglier case with changeable faceplates is not a reason to spend a few hundred $$s.
    --
  • And to continue your thought. They thrash. Everyweek they head in a new direction. New ideas, New meetings, New CEO, NO results. Things they shoulda coulda done are numerous like.


    Have a standard serial port config. That way each and every addon device could be transfered to your new palm when you buy it.

    Concentrate on partnerships with 3rd party software vendors to develop extension apps

    Release information about hardware interface to 3rd part companies for the development of extensions. (my Go keyboard is a great example of what can be done.)

    Listen to their users.


    In other words do what the competition has done, ie Handsprings.


    The last thing they could have done? Not spun off from 3com.

  • One thing palm has constantly done wrong is they squandering most of the opportunities for advancing the Palm user experience on stupid things that make the market droids and geeks google eyed. The biggest issue here is handwriting recognition. Palm could have put their efforts and faster chips into improving handwriting recognition. I'm not necessarily talking about getting rid of Grafitti (since that would require a *really* fast chip) but rather use the increased processor speed to implement better HWR algorithms so that the palm doesn't miss every fourth or fifth letter you write. Perhaps giving the user the ability to train grafitti (like with speech recognition). But what does palm do instead? They come out with color screens. It's that "ooh ahh" technology which is appealing to geeks (and market droids)just because they like technology but which doesn't really improve the total user experience. Another way they really blew it is with the Palm V. In that case, they used advancement in handheld technology to make a smaller, slimmer device that was meant to free the user from the worry of carrying around a big, thick PDA. But as any Palm V owner will tell you, they designed it in such a way that the buttons which turn the damn thing on are easy to hit. While the user is liberated from the worry of a thick device, they are now burdened with worrying about whether their palm will accidently turn on at the slightest bump. I think, or at least I would like to think, that some of Palm's troubles are due to their belief that "sexy technology" is more important than the user experience.
  • Handspring's got a pretty nice line up and you can actually find them at places like best buy now. I wonder how much of Palm's woes is Handspring eating into their profit margin...

    Personally I'm pissed off with Palm for charging me $20 for an OS upgrade that was necessary for the proper functioning of my Palm V. Before I installed it, alarms weren't working at all and it was losing two or three days worth of time every couple of weeks. Other palm users told me they'd had similar problems with their Palm V's and the OS upgrade fixed them. So I shelled out for the OS upgrade and found someone with a Windows box that I could install it from and decided that that was the last $20 I was ever going to give Palm.

    Next time I'll buy a Visor or one of the Linux based palmtop computers.

  • Someone please help me -- I haven't figured it out. What's so attractive about a palmtop? I don't know if my lack of interest is due to never trying one extensively, or just being too old and too stuck in my ways. Maybe I'm just too much of a pack-rat. Maybe I'm too addicted to the Internet.

    I tried someone else's unit that had a wireless modem. It didn't work indoors. What's the point of something that can't hook up to the Internet?

    I prefer to carry around my laptop, which has 2GB of e-mail from the past seven years. And I carry around a spiral notebook and pen, because I find it to be the best way to record ideas and notes.

    I suppose a palmtop could be useful for those who would otherwise need a day-timer -- those with complex calendars and extensive phone directories. For me, I just don't get it -- at least not until it can hook up to the Internet and has high enough resolution to read PDF files.

    Maybe someone can tell me what I'm missing.

  • by TomatoMan (93630) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:33AM (#211321) Homepage Journal
    I have a Palm III from about 2 years ago. Here's why I'm still using it:

    1. It still does everything I need it to
    2. I'm not going to spend $500 for a color version, or on any handheld short of one with a small PC's power. At $500 I could almost buy an iMac or a cheap PC; a handheld with 8mb RAM/storage isn't enough of an incentive.

    I'm relieved that the "planned obsolescence" thing didn't happen with the Palm I still use. I'm tired of upgrading hardware every 18 months. I don't need to play Quake on my handheld.

    I'm sorry Palm is having trouble, because their product is good, but if they were counting on me to pitch my III for a V or a VII when the III still worked fine, then their business model had a fatal flaw, and one that this crisis they're facing will surely correct, one way or the other.

    TomatoMan
  • by Keelor (95571) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @01:07PM (#211324)
    I didn't really make this clear, but I feel that both the m505 and the EM500 are aimed at a different marke than the typical "PDA" market. I still think that, as a "glorified notepad", Palm probably has the advantage--I have yet to see a Pocket PC device for around $100. However, by offering the m505 at the same price range as many PocketPCs, it has to put up with direct comparison.

    Editing documents/spreadsheets on a PDA is really fairly easy--I'd never write a 10 page report on one, but for proofreading/editing pre-existing documents it's great. I've also used it for some quick spreadsheet calculations in about 5 minutes that my graphing calculator would take a good 15-20 minutes to program. These were generally done at times where I wouldn't be hauling around a laptop.

    About the "saving memory" part: since the PocketPC OS has software such as a word processor/spreadsheet built into the ROM, it takes up no additional storage space. The money aspect was another issue for me, though. By the time I had bought the software to get a lower priced Palm up to the level I wanted, I would have paid just as much as I did for my Cassiopeia.

    Finally, for the faster processor, it helps:

    • Programming: I have Pocket Scheme [angrygraycat.com] installed, and have occasionally written programs for certain tasks that I can then quickly access away from my desktop.
    • Audio decoding: During my current half hour commute every morning, I listen to Audible's [audible.com] audio version of the Wall Street Journal, which (presumably, as Audible has yet to release software for it) I couldn't do with a Palm.
    • Playing games: definitely not a factor for many people, but I love being able to emulate some of the older gaming systems, while also playing some fairly impressive games.

    For people that actually want the power of a real PC without carrying around a laptop, Pocket PCs are great. For people that just want a PDA at a more reasonable price, Palm is the way to go.

    ~=Keelor

  • by Keelor (95571) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:40AM (#211325)
    As the owner of a Cassiopeia EM500 and a follower of both the Palm and Pocket PC (WinCE) worlds, I thought I'd just make this quick comparison as an expample of why I think Palm is in trouble (note: the m505 is Palm's recently released high-end PDA)

    m505 vs. EM500

    Both:

    • MMC/SD Card slot for expansion
    • Color screen
    • Probably about the same price right now, give or take $50 (I got my EM500 for $300 after a rebate that no longer is available)

    m505 advantages:

    • Smaller form factor
    • Large software base (considerably more compatible with Linux)
    • Better stability
    • Better outdoor viewability, probably
    • Likely more battery life (not positive, but see below)

    EM500 advantages:

    • 150 MHz MIPS processor, instead of 33 MHz
    • Motorla Dragonball VZ processor
    • 16 MB RAM instead of 8 MB
    • 240x320 screen instead of 160x160
    • Better screen indoors (according to most reviewers)
    • Adjustable brightness
    • More functionality out-of-the-box (spreadsheet, ect.) saving memory for many people

    As far as battery life goes, I've never had the battery run out on me during a day of heavy use (such as an 8 hour car trip). So it's hardly a problem for me. Then again, I don't listen to MP3s and read a book at the same time, which would decrease the life.

    Generally, I would say that the smaller form factor is the only reason I would go with the m505 over the EM500. Personally, since I wouldn't carry either around in my pocket all day, the large size isn't a big issue.

    As has been commented on, Palm should be making a killing on Microsoft by offering stuff like the m505 at a much lower price. When I can get a processor that's 5 times as fast, with twice the memory at the same price (even better for me, since I got a EM500 with a 28 MB memory card for $300), I don't see a good reason to go with an m505.

    Of course, places like Brighthand [brighthand.com] show why Palm could continue to proceed--much of the market and resellers are effectively ignoring the PocketPC, and so many reviews of the m505 have only focused on how much better they are than previous Palms--not the fact that they've now managed to catch up with Pocket PCs released a half year ago (in my opinion).

    ~=Keelor

  • I can play Sim City while having a shit. I can read a newspaper using only one hand while waiting for groceries. I can experiment with code while sitting in economy on a plane. I can discreetly write an email while sitting in a meeting. Maybe you don't shit or shop?
    --
  • by OmegaDan (101255) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:45AM (#211329) Homepage
    I think you hit the nail on the head here ... they've come out with lots of new models -- but none of them *DO ANYTHING NEW*. I've owned 3 pdas in my life, a US Robotics Pilot 1000, a visor deluxe, and a Palm Vx ... and I gotta tell ya the palm VX is *perfect*. Its light, its .4 inches thick -- I've got a wallet case for it thats no bigger then a regular wallet -- and it stays charged for weeks at a time! The only difference between my Vx and my pilot 1000's (made in 1996) is how much ram they have and their shape ... talk about progress
  • by Zorkon (121860) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:49AM (#211334) Homepage
    I *just* purchased a Palm Vx from a local store - as Palm has recently introduced the m500 series, the Palm Vx was nicely discounted.

    The interesting thing is that I used to own a Palm IIIc, then "upgraded" to a Compaq iPAQ. I've switched back to Palm now, for the following reasons:

    Palm's battery life is *much* better.

    WinCE/PocketPC still has some usability issues as far as interface design is concerned.

    Far too much "demoware" and "shareware" software in the WinCE world.

    I *don't* want to deal with a "file explorer" on my PDA when trying to launch a program.

    WinCE/PocketPC doesn't play nice with non-Microsoft OSes

    PocketPCs are just that: an attempt to squeeze a relatively full-featured computer into a pocket form factor. Only I don't want to mess with registry entries, file explorers, and the like while using a PDA. Given their relatively high-powered CPUs and capabilities, they *suck* power like nobody's business. I was used to charging my Palm IIIc once every month or so. I left my iPAQ off for about a week (went on vacation), and when I returned, the battery was dead and all my contacts, notes, and software was gone (my own fault... but still, 6 days, starting with a full charge, and the unit turned *off*?!)

    I've switched to a predominantly Linux environment at home, and the PocketPC, while supporting TCP/IP, doesn't sync with anything except Microsoft's Windows-based ActiveSync tools. On the other hand, there is support for the Palm on most major computing platforms, including MacOS and Linux.

    For those that want an all-in-one MP3 player, contact list, organizer, and don't mind being trapped in Windows, then the PocketPC might be for you... Personally though, I'd rather have a Palm for a PDA, and save the MP3/multimedia functions for a dedicated MP3 player. I personally own and love the Iomega [iomega.com] HipZip MP3 player - it's USB based, and works wonderfully under Windows, MacOS 9, Mac OS X and Linux (in OS X and Linux, it appears as a simple SCSI drive).

    Does anyone here want to buy a iPAQ 3650 w/USB cradle, CF sleeve, serial adapter, manuals, disks, etc? In great condition... ;)

  • No, he's right. Palmtop computers are unnecessary. However, the Palm is NOT a palmtop computer. It's expressly designed not to BE a palmtop computer. It's designed to be a mobile extention of your desktop. Data retrieval and access, not data entry. And as to all the posts saying that the Wince devices can do all and sundry, well, I prefer the UNIX way; several small bits, each doing one thing, and doing it well. I want to listen to MP3s, I have an MP3 player. Want to watch DVDs, I have a portable DVD player. Want to call somebody, I have a cell phone. Guess what; if one breaks, the others all still work. Useful, that.
  • by Gogl (125883) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:11PM (#211337) Journal
    In my mind, at least, the real problem is that they really aren't that useful. I have recently acquired a Palm V at no cost to me (no I didn't steal it), and while it is funny as hell to play with, any and all actually useful functions it has are much better done with pen(cil) and paper. Honestly. And all the "syncrhonizing with the desktop" crap means that you either have to use the Palm desktop to keep your schedule, or be using Outlook, both of which I'd rather not do. In fact, the only real use I've found for it is reading free books, as essentially every single book that is old enough to not be copyrighted can be gotten for free in a format for palm (or converted from txt ala Gutenberg), and it is actually not that bad reading off of a palm (much better then slowly scrolling down a txt on the computer). But essentially, the palm is an expensive gameboy for adults.

    In my mind, the thing that will make any handheld device actually worth it is as follows:
    1. A *lot* more memory (whatever happened to those 300mb drives the size of credit cards that IBM was doing?)
    2. Voice recognition (Graffiti is okay, but the palm needs something akin to dictation for input to be truly useful)
    3. Some level of AI (this is sort of attached to the voice recognition part, but essentially I want to be able to say "take me to such-and-such a program" and it takes me there).

    Notice how "color" and "net-access" aren't on that list. Well net access has some usability, but the fact that people are obsessed with color kind of irritates me. Oh well, I'll save that for another rant....
  • I think it started when people realised that these expensive (for the technology used) PDA's weren't actually high quality. EG. My palm came with a plastic stylus in the spare holder, not like the metal one in the right side. Also, the power buttons on the Vx have been knowen to fail (like mine), requireing you to press repeatedly, unless you hit the sweet spot.

    Also. Where is my Palm OS upgrade that you promised? Why are all your accesories so expensive? Why do you still have a 160x120 screen, when you could make a 320x320 and not even make the unit bigger, or rewrite the whole OS?

    Unless Palm get there act together, and stop trying to rip off customers, I'm never going to buy Palm stuff again. I hope the company dies, and learns it's lesson.

  • Maybe someone can tell me what I'm missing.

    For me, having a tide calculator [toolworks.com], Planetarium [www.aho.ch] etc. all in the one pocket-sized unit is very useful. My Palm III may not be as sexy as some of the newer units, but it meets my needs just fine.

    Maybe it's just me, but it bothers me that people have short memories - I remember when a 16MHz processor and a couple of megabytes of memory was a kick-ass machine, and you could write killer programs in kilobytes of memory. Sure, the Palms are spartan by today's desktop standards, but they demonstrate that you can still do a lot with limited resources - bloatware programmers need to take a good hard look at themselves.
  • that Palm is in trouble. They didn't change the product for what...5-6 years? The only cool thing that they've added (until the M50x series)was the wireless line. Other than that, they've added some really "hip" colors and maybe a few worthless apps. In the meantime, the evil empire launches WindowsCE devices, handspring clones the palm and sells them cheaper and Sony starts with the Clie'. In response to all of this, Palm dicks around for 2-3 years and finally launches a product that presents the same level of features as the competition.......
  • No, you don't understand... I'm not trying to flame, but I need to be blunt to explain my point.

    People that buy Palms are buying them for all the flashy features... People that buy Windows CE devices fit in the same catagory, only the CE has even flashier features.

    The Psion makes a fully featured handheld system (just about the size of an iPaq) with a full featured word processor, spread sheet, Agenda, Contacts, Calculator, Database, and more built in. While a full desktop system gives you more flexability, most people buy a desktop for just these apps (it does come with full web browser and email). Before you reply to this, find someone with a Psion and try it out first. I'm sure your response will change.

    ---=-=-=-=-=-=---

  • Well I don't normally reply to flamers but you had a slightly good point. I am not from england. I was doing a lot of data input (read typing) and looked for a handheld w/keyboard. After buying a 5mx I found it to be built rock-solid, the keyboard is perfectly comfortable (which you wouldn't expect a small keyboard to be) and the software is stable and the apps are as full-featured as my desktop word processors, spread sheet, drawing program, database, allowing importing from one app to another which M$ Office does, but not as well.

    As far as them disappearing, with partners like Ericson, Panasoic, and more, I can't see them dying. This is not to mention that they are great sellers in the UK and will have a market there no matter what happens in the US. They don't need to advertise as word of mouth is much better, and they don't work on glitz, but rather cater to pros that need a real pc in their hands.

    ---=-=-=-=-=-=---

  • Anonymous Cowards are ignored here...

    The truth is you will find many happy Psion owners, and just because they don't have a large presence in the US doesn't mean failure. In fact, they have pretty much taken over England, and with that much market, they will be around a long time, no matter where you are located.

    Besides that point, since there are maybe 5 diehard Newton fans out there, I'm quite sure the first AC and the replying AC are one-in-the-same. That's to mention nothing of their identical styles of speech, punctuation, and vocabulary.

    ---=-=-=-=-=-=---

  • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday May 20, 2001 @12:08AM (#211346) Journal
    I can't believe posts like this! The truth is that WinCE devices are much better *toys* than palm makes... Palms can't play MP3s/WMF or show full motion color video, even though 32 megs can old hold about 3 songs or 1 short video is besided that point. You typical Palm can't just plug into a network, manwhile there are tons of Windows CE CompactFlash Ethernet cards.

    Palms are just toys, Windows CE devices are just toys, and Windows CE makes a better toy.

    Now how is Palm superior again?

    I also admit that Windows CE is unstable and slow, but so is windows, and people just accept that instead of using something else. So, if you want a toy, get Windows CE instead of Palm... For those of you that want a fully featured computer designed for professionals, that will also fit in your pocket, check out Psion. (www.psionusa.com)

    ---=-=-=-=-=-=---

  • The biggest problem I have with most handhelds is the UI. My handwriting has been unfavorably compared to Sanskrit,(why do you think I got into computers in the first place?) and Graffiti is even worse (I tried.) I have a RIM Blackberry [blackberry.net] 957 [blackberry.net], and I can touchtype (with my thumbs, would you believe) around 20-30 wpm. Plus it syncs with my email, calendar, etc... and it's got an always-on, wireless modem, and rechargable batteries (that's the big one. Little one runs off of AA's.) I've never run the battery down yet (and I've gone a couple weeks between recharges at times). And you can write your own Java programs for them, or download from Tucows or Handango. Downers: They're expensive. Figger around $500 US for the unit (I think the smaller, pager-sized ones are about 20% less expensive), and then there's the monthly wireless service costs, which tend to vary with the ISP. Oh, yeah- get the Internet Edition. Enterprise edition is for corporate emails; and is way beyond what's needed for home use. Wireless service area is currently US/Canada only (and if you can't use a cellphone where you're at, you probably won't get reception on this, either.) Also, the screen's black-and-white only, and it's not touch-sensitive (since you have the keyboard.) And I can't telnet with it (yet), daggone it. But I can netsurf, get email, send email, and check my contacts/notes/tasks, generally faster than people can look it up in Daytimers or PC's. And no, I'm not a RIM employee. :)
  • by don_carnage (145494) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:23AM (#211350) Homepage

    You'd think that after a while, the bulk of consumers that wanted these things would already have them. Take me for example: I bought a Palm IIIx about a year ago and I have no reason to upgrade.

    So computer sales are down. The the internet is going under. The sky is falling. What else is new? Geesh...

    Horribly disfiguring problem discovered...find out tonight at 11!



    --
  • by IronChef (164482) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @02:23PM (#211355) Homepage
    ...and while it is funny as hell to play with, any and all actually useful functions it has are much better done with pen(cil) and paper. Honestly.

    That may be true for the way YOU work but there are about a zillion people who would disagree with you.

    My Palm III allowed me to get organized. I don't lose phone numbers or forget appointments anymore. And a paper planner can't beep to remind me to go do something.

    FWIW I don't use Outlook, and I never use Palm Desktop for anything except backup. I keep all my contacts and appointments in the palmtop; once in a while I sync it, so I have a copy of my data.

    But essentially, the palm is an expensive gameboy for adults.

    Don't slam everyone who finds these things useful just because you are too set in your pen & paper ways to appreciate them.
  • I suspect that if palm is having problems that it's going to be very short lived. It seems (at least around here) that the handheld platform has finally hit "critical mass" which basically means everyone has to have one because everyone else is getting one.

    As far as Palm vs WinCE goes, I'll take the PalmOS any day....

    I'd buy some palm stock as soon as it dropped to the floor because of this news :).

  • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@@@gmail...com> on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:11AM (#211363)
    A Slashdot editor admitting MS makes a superior product? Ohh my.. pigs.. flying.. hell.. freezing.. world.. collapsing...
  • since Palm laid of 250 people at the end of march, it is not surprising that they would continue to have problems.

    Part of the the problem is the same one that has been the plague of the next market. Some of it simply running out of cash for silly business plans, but some of it is irrational pessimism, in large part due to the FUD from politicians. These folks certainly deserve a portion of the blame for the business climate.

    It has gone so far that you have stories like this one [forrester.com] that I first spotted at the Register [theregister.co.uk], commonly titled "Death of the Web Inevitable [theregister.co.uk]". This is shear bullocks, as the real story is the possible look of the WWW, version 2.0, named in the story as the "X Internet" - but the FUD Masters got to put their spin on it.

    The market has evaporated because there are not so many people out there looking for the best toys to get the job done, when the problem was not so much the toys, but getting the job done.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • I used to carry a huge (7" x 5" x 3") DayRunner to keep track of everything, and I constantly had to re-enter repeating . Every time someone changed phone numbers or addresses, I had to make a new entry, and I was always having to buy new inserts.

    When I scribbled down a note, I knew I would have to re-enter it into my Mac (yes, Mac) later on. Otherwise, if I ever lost it, I'd have no backup.

    Now I have a Palm V. I have a backup of all my contacts. I only have to enter a weekly event once.

    When I'm stuck with nothing to do, I have half a dozen books loaded up. When I have too much to do, I've got reference guides for Perl, HTML, Unix, and Windows. I've got a database of 50 of my favorite restaraunts, and directions how to get there.

    Many of these are the same tasks my DayRunner did before. Palm just does them much better. And I have Tetris.

    The Palm Pilot is a tool. If all you want is a tip calculator [angelfire.com], it's the coolest $400 tip calculator there is. If, however, you want the mythical "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", it's here.

    Palm is simply having the same problems as every high-tech company: the economy's in the dumper. Give it a year.

  • ...Only Windows OSs and Apps can link to it. When Billy "shared Source" Gates opens up the soruce for even the conduits, maybe I'll be able to link Mac OSX to it and might buy one. 'Til then, "all your PDA belong to us--NOT!"
  • The iPAQ can handle full speed video. So far, it doesn't support DivX AVI files, but you can play MPEG-1 or WMV files. And it can hold a full downscaled DVD using a expansion sleeve with CF or a MicroDrive (1 GB) or a 2 GB PCMCIA HardDrive. There are people also using external laptop HDs (with a PCMCIA interface) as a video or MP3 jukebox (usually as a car player, for external power for the HD).

    Next generation iPAQ will be fast enough to handle speech recognition. This generation can do it, but it isn't good enough for mainstream applications.

    Viewing web pages is important. AvantGo is a pain when you view it with a Palm (barely of any use), but it is great when you view it with an iPAQ. And if/when there is short range BlueTooth communication, it'd be a lot easier to have HTML device interfaces that your PDA can handle (and not clipping).

    The level of integration is great. A single device that can be my newspaper, PDA, dictionary, music player, and portable video player. It isn't as small as a Palm V, but it saves me from carrying quite a few extra items (especially on trips).

    It isn't for everybody, but it is a solution for some of us...
  • The PocketPCs can use the IBM MicroDrive (that come in sizes from 170 MB to 1 GB). You can use them to store video (full DVDs downscaled using WMV or MPEG-1) or a lot of music, or photos, or documentation...

    I also feel that color is optional. However, it does make the display nicer and easier to look at. And applications are starting to take advantage of it (place high priority overdue taks in red, or have different colors for your appointments in your calendar, depending on categories). Color is also very helpful when you're looking at a map (not to mention video)...

    Current generation iPAQ can do some voice recognition, but not much. Next generation might be able to do it much more, and maybe with a little AI in there (MS demo'd something like that a few months ago, but the voice recognition and AI was on a PC connected to the iPAQ using 802.11b, the iPAQ was an intelligent interactive remote).
  • Microsoft tried to buy Palm 3 years ago [frogtown.com] but couldn't do it. So instead, they aggressively countered Palm with the WinCE and PocketPC offerings [timesofindia.com].

    And sure enough, they'll capture and sterilize yet another market ...sigh...

    "A door is what a dog is perpetually the wrong side of" - Ogden Nash

  • Battery life is very important, as you'll soon find out, neophyte.

    I owned a Pilot Professional. Then I bought a Philips Nino when they came out. It was such slow, unusable crap that I traded it for a Palm III. That broke, so I bought an Ipaq and fell in love.

    Anyway, you can't make arguements from both sides about battery life.

    Either its an MP3 playing, MAME emulating monster, and it only lasts 6 hours of continuous use before needing a recharge, or you use it in the same way you use a palm pilot, and it lasts significantly longer.

    If you're only using it for my contacts, phone list, etc, thats great, except someone might be willing to spend another $50 on the slim chance that you might one day want to use some of those other features.
    (this is comparing the high end palms to the IPAQ, in the 200-250 range, Palms stand alone)

  • by Gannoc (210256) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:41AM (#211384)
    How the same group of geeks who gush at every totally impractical wiz-bang device that comes out, consistantly dismisses WinCE devices as a whole because of their BATTERY LIFE.

    I bought an IPAQ 3650 yesterday for $50, yes FIFTY dollars more than Handspring is selling their color palm device for.

    In return, I get a 320x240 screen instead of a 160x160, it can play MP3s. It can run MAME and Nintendo emulators. It can record my voice at a touch of a button. I can actually read books off of it without getting eye sore. It has 32 megs of memory as opposed to 8, (and yes, while WinCE programs are larger, that still means I have significantly more space to store data on).

    It even comes with QStart, which gives a palm-like user interface, if you're really THAT terrified of using a menu system on a handheld.

    Its not surprising to me at all that Palm is in trouble. No matter how you feel about Microsoft and WinCE devices; where the hell is all that money going? If I can spend $500 and get the amazing hardware i'm holding in my hand, I will never, ever spend $450 for the handware I get with a color palm device.

  • I think the single biggest problem for the Palm devices is that their display resolution is horrible right now. 160x160 just doesn't cut it anymore -- it's too big a sacrifice when people are wanting mobile Web browsing, mobile multimedia...

    Consider this: some of the color Palm-OS units claim to support 16-bit color depth -- 65,535 colors. But a 160x160 display only has 25,600 pixels -- barely enough to display one third of these colors at any one time!

    There's not enough room on a 160x160 display to be able to -- show recognizable photos, run a mini-spreadsheet, read a book with AA or "cleartype" text, watch multimedia clips, browse the Web, see an entire day's schedule at once, and so on and so forth -- with any real degree of sincerity. The 320x240 displays of the PocketPC devices still aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but at 76,800 pixels, they have more than 300% of the screen area that Palm devices do! With the right scaling software, PocketPC devices can even browse most Web sites fairly well.

    For me at least, this is the single largest reason for Palm loosing market share to the new PocketPC devices -- the PocketPC devices are now so much more functional than Palm for most tasks that any size benefits or battery benefits are completely outweighed.
  • I'd like to see some good posts from a WinCE device owner on why they chose it over a Palm. I've had the lowest, cheapest Palm model (m100) for a while now and it does everything that I need it to do. I didn't get a PDA that I can dual boot, play MP3s, watch videos or do software development. It's just an organizer and mine does that very well.

    Sure, I wish I could have gotten an 8mb unit (m105), but mine has over 1500 addresses, the entire New Testament, hundreds of ToDos, more than 40 lists, two chess games, a kickin' calculator and the Formula 1 schedule/track layouts and STILL has 688K free. What in the world do you people put on your PDA's (beyond entertainment) that actually require more memory/resolution/processor/color than something from the Palm line?

    Everything I've read says PalmOS still owns (excuse me, 0wnz/ru1z) the market and I think it will be quite a distant day before I find a better value with ANY device that uses Windows. I've never been in a store trying one of these devices when it didn't crash. My Palm never has.

  • That's amusing... WinCE makes you Wince... oh you /. guys...

    --
  • There was an announcement 6 months ago that Palm was looking to exit the hardware business. It they had acted to make it a reality, and handles teir OS licensing better, they'd be fine now.

    Microsoft, as I recall took $5 for each copy of MS-DOS sold, back in the old days They took a flat rate. Much better than taking a percentage, especially in light of the much lower pricepoint of handheld devices.

    --CTH

    --
  • by arfy (236686) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @04:20PM (#211393)
    I own two Win CE devices (both HPs) and one Palm Pilot.

    Even though I have more fun 'n' games stuff for the Win CE boxes and they have color, sound and more processing power, over time I have used them so infrequently that their batteries have been allowed to nearly die.

    Bottom line: although the Win CE's look more fun, the old monochrome Palm Pilot Professional just does the job better. The Palm is the one that rides in my pocket. Not anywhere as snazzy, but it's just a lot more solid.

    I can't agree with CmdrTaco on this one at all. And I feel kind of foolish having to say that, because I've spent a lot more money on the HPs than on the Palm. I guess not only magpies are attracted to the shiny and new.
  • Palmtop computers are almost completely unnecessary

    Wrong! I don't know how I'd get anything done without my PDA!

    I suppose I should have been a bit clearer about what I meant. Those of us without PDAs don't realise what we're missing out on. I for one get by just fine with my PPA (pen and paper assistant). So in "difficult times" we're not going to start splashing out a few hundred dollars on a new class of device.

    --

  • by ideut (240078) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:19AM (#211395)
    Palmtop computers are almost completely unnecessary (though desirable) pieces of consumer electronics, and it's quite understandable that when people start worrying about their financial security, these expensive toys are the first things people stop buying.

    Palm has always been the leader of the field because its engineers have the best understanding of ergonomics. They still do. After all, what most people want is a device so slim they don't even know they're carrying it, and a device so easy to use that they don't have to read the manual.

    Give it another year, and when the talk of recession is over, Palm will be loving it again.

    --

  • by Bimkins (242641) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:38AM (#211396)
    stop using my palm on a regular basis.

    Oh, wait. You're talking about pdas. Nevermind. My mistake.
  • ...I want to buy a new Palm. My old PalmPilot "Pro" model, from back before they numbered the things, is a little outdated. But I have a dilemma. The handwriting recognition, which has had 4 or 5 YEARS to improve since I bought my model, still requires me to use the "graffiti" system, and still has a box dedicated to text entry. What a misuse of space! I should be able to write anywhere on screen, and the area with the pre-drawn text entry box should be nothing but pixels, so that anything can be displayed there.

    These issues -- the screen space and the handwriting recognition -- wouldn't be hurting Palm if it weren't for the fact that other companies have now licensed Apple's Newton technology, and their handwriting recognition is really, really good in comparison. And other handhelds cram many more pixels onto their screen space, resulting in sharper images.

    In short, the Palm may be tricked out in wild, new ways like media cards and wireless technology, but it is far from competitive in the basics.

  • When it comes down to it this is a non-story. What probably happened is a reporter lost some money on his PALM investments and thought he saw a story. But when you look at PALM it is not in serious trouble and it is certainly not TDFX; palm still has a 0 debt to equity ratio unlike tdfx which had huge debt when it finally died. Also some people have said that this is all due to the competition of handspring. Another misunderstanding of the situation. If you look at this graph [yahoo.com] you can see that palm and hand have shared interests not competing interests. What this has everything to do with is palm share prices are intimitly related to the strength of the retail economy. Why is palm more affected than other retail companies like RSH? Because palm is one of the closest watched stocks for tech stock analysts: cnnfn reports 21 analysts reporting on PALM - the same number that reports for MSFT. Maybe because they own palms and it is at mind. But more likely because it had a highly publicized ipo. So when the retail economy reports rough waters analysts will downgrade PALM... but most analysts are still reporting PALM as a buy (like CIBC) or neutral. Only a few analysts a suggesting that investors reduce. This does not sound like a company in serious trouble.
  • PDABuzz [pdabuzz.com] has a story/discussion on this, as well as links to Palm's announcement and a story about Steve Jobs' attempt to purchase Palm.

    "I am a man, and men are
    animals who tell stories."
  • I had a friend who bought two Philips Velos. Nifty little box for its day. He used the first one for about two weeks, then it crashed. Being embarrassed, having too much money to spend, and having liked what it did, he bought the second one, used it for about two weeks, and it crashed.

    Enter Yrs. Truly. I can't get one working at all. Critical files are missing from the flash; they are not present on the CD, not available on the Web, and in general there seems to be no way to recover them. I carefully reconstitute the second unit, get it set up again to access his internet account, etc. It sits up for a week while I wait for him to come get it, during which time the primary battery dies. When I power it up, it crashes, and (get this) when I go to set up the internet account again, the user interfaces are different and no longer conform to the instructions I got from the Web for setting it up. I have yet to figure that one out.

    In short, WinCE manages to bring to the palm everything we've come to love in Windows desktop apps: their bloat, their instability, and their occasional need for a fresh reinstall from scratch. Except that, unlike the desktop, you don't have a standard way of doing the reinstall.

    Meanwhile, the fridge, stove, and toaster never crash on me...

  • by Proud Geek (260376) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:18AM (#211404) Homepage Journal
    Many of the Wince devices suffer from serious interface issues. Start button on a handheld, anyone???

    Also, the power use issues on them won't go away. They have true multitasking, lots of memory and fast processors. While I'd normally say this is good, it is such a drain on batteries that they just can't hold up to Palm devices. They need big expensive batteries just to get acceptable lifespan, whereas Palms can last much longer on a single charge.

    Making lightweight devices just isn't Micro$oft's strong point. The only way that Palm can lose is by making their new devices so expensive that they look like Wince competitors. Oh wait, they are doing that. Oh well, I can't help it if they hang themselves when they have the better product.

  • All the people I know using WinCE Penpads use it as an extra expensive 'mine is bigger' toy. All Palm people I know are actually using theirs for usefull stuff. And for good too. And have ditched their FiloFaxes.

    Don't mistake the Hardware for Software that consumes it.
    Are you actually one of the guys who does /.??? Honestly, I can hardly believe it.
  • I just don't understand what the holly war is all about, for me each device solves different needs.

    A Palm based device is used to organize information quickly and eficently. Web pages, MP3 files or recorded voice are cumbersome to manage (otherwise we would not have things like the programs that do so), also Web browsing, MP3 playing and voice recording are very taxing activities for the battery. THen a device that needs to handle bunches of information (appointments, phone numbers, small notes) does not need to be bloathed for these tasks.

    Yes, the battery. I can go for a month to the middle of the Namib dessert with two pairs of AAA batteris and will have no problems. You are more independent. With a WinCE (or whatever they are called today) I am virtualy glued to a power outlet.

    The Windows based devices are aiming to do all what a normal Laptop computer can do, and since they are not that smaller than some Sony Laptops or even old Toshiba librettos, why should somebody buy a toy if one can have the real thing? They are trapped in a limbo between Laptops and Palms, and the force of gravity of both should reap this idea appart. I even have an Acer Laptop that is just sligthly bigger and bulkier than a A4 notebook. It plays MP3, can browse the Web and I can choose my Word processor and Spreadsheet (Lotus SmartSuite97, came free in a magazine's cover CD), my browser (Mozilla) and all this for lest than double the price of the Windows toys. All comfortably sitting in my Lap while riding the train. A coupke of Sony's laptops are even smaller.

    The market share of Palm devices explains it all. They found a niche and are filling it nicely, MS panicked, convinced {forced?) some companies to support its efforts and got it wrong.The economic problems have hit everybody in the IT industry, including MS and ilustreous companies like CISCO, Oracle and many others. Why Palm should be immune to this?

    What speaks is market share, people voting with their hard earned money. Palm is far from over, once the economic slowdown is over I'll upgrade my Palm III to something else (it is too scrached after 3 years of heavy use) as I am sure plenty of people will do as well. 3 years hardware upgrade cycle. That sounds about right to me.

  • And here we find the fatal flaw to Palm's business model- one that most Internet & computer companies- endless growth & new customers. Just does not happen. Had Palm's management been up with it they would have done what Visor does- create affortable upgrades and software that every user would want or could use. Also, they would have focused their sales on the one group that can afford $500 for gadgets- corporations. The bottom line... they missed their chance. The big question becomes what will happen. Will the OS company keep going or will it go down. The irony of it all would be if Visor ( run by the creators of Palm) bought the OS rights and took over.
  • by blair1q (305137) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @12:30PM (#211410) Journal

    >1. Hire consultants!
    >2. Fire the CEO!
    >3. Hire consultants to hire a new CEO!
    >(preferably someone dynamic who's not afraid to axe all of our
    >good employees!)
    >4. Hire a new PR firm to issue a zillion press releases about
    >our new CEO and our new direction
    >5. Change everything just in time for the market to change again.
    >(rinse, repeat)


    Hey! Didn't you used to work at Apple?

    --Blair
  • The Palm is a better PDA. WinCE units are, I hate to admit it, better pocket computers. So the question is, what do you want? A personal organizer, for keeping track of stuff, taking notes, etc. Or a portable MP3 playing, Internet Exploiter running computer that fits (barely) in a pocket? I myself use a Sharp SE-500 that I bought from E-bay for 30 bucks. It's a Palm-sized touchscreen organizer, with a built in modem for e-mail. The OS is easy to deal with; if admittedly very closed and limited. If I had to upgrade, I'd go Palm, because to me a PDA is an organizer. I have a laptop when I need a carryable computer. - Turq.
  • The devices are better. Not the OS. Last time I checked MS didn't make the devices. Companies like HP, Casio, and Compaq make the devices. The fact that they run an MS OS is secondary.
    That reasoning contradicts the Slashdot mentality that if it runs Linux, then its automatically good and very newsworthy. But now when an editor gives obvious praise to a Microsoft product, he really was just talking about the hardware. This reasoning reeks of determinism, telling people that they couldn't possibly like a MS product because Microsoft products are inherently inferior, which isnt true in the first place.
  • "Now, you reference to "out of the box" is just what Microsoft wants. It wants you to feel "confortable" with whatever they provide. They want to literally "own" you, so you don't go out and look for the applications that better suit you. Why would you go out and test other applications if you have "everything that you need" (read: everything that MS thinks is good enough for you) out of the box?"

    While it may be true that Microsoft wants to make sure users use their software, I don't really see that as a problem. I'm sure Palm, Sony, and most other PDA manufacturers would like users to use all THEIR software as well.

    The deciding factor for me was actually going down to the local Best Buy, Circuit City, and doing a side by side comparison. Let's say I've got $400 to spend on a PDA. I can get a Palm with a greyscale display and 8 megs of memory, or for the SAME PRICE I can get a WinCE PDA with 4 times the memory, a 10 times faster processor, 16 bit color high res display, and superior software that allows me to do more with the device. The choice is obvious.

  • by UltraBot2K1 (320256) on Saturday May 19, 2001 @11:55AM (#211421) Homepage Journal
    You people just keep getting wilder and wilder with your anti-MS accusations. Most of what you said isn't even the truth, so before you go off blathering aimlessly about how horrible a product that you've never even used is, perhaps you should do some research so you don't risk misinforming other readers.

    WindowsCE is NOT a dumbed down version of Windows. The 9x or NT/2K kernels will not boot on a MIPS or SH3 processor. WinCE was designed from the GROUND UP specifically for portable devices. I've had a WinCE device, as well as a Palm III for over a year now, and I can honestly say that the backlit screen on the WinCE device is in fact, more intuitive and easier to read than the recycled GameBoy screen in the Palm. As far as WinCE being crappy, prove it. My experience has been nothing but pleasurable, and I've yet to see a Palm that can:

    Play MP3's
    Play MPEG movies
    open office files
    display REAL web pages, and not some clipped text-only crap

    out of the box. PalmOS simply cannot compete with these features that come standard with EVERY WinCE device.

    You might not like MS, but there's no reason to FABRICATE LIES about their products in order to show them in a poor light.

  • People have little reason to upgrade to the latest Palm computers: they don't do a lot more than the originals or a low-end $130 M10x or low-end Visor. I find it kind of insulting, actually, that they charge around $400 for the M50x and Visor Edge, hardware that does little more than a Sharp PDA.

    Until Palm comes out with new models that have compelling additional features over their current models, they will continue to have financial problems. What would be compelling?

    • Higher resolution color screen.
    • Somewhat faster processor, to be able to deal with audio, MP3, and images.
    • 32bit OS (easier to program/port).
    • Built-in audio I/O, modem, wireless modem, phone, VGA output, and/or digital camera, etc. (not expansion slots), in an M50x/Edge form factor.
    • Built-in working bluetooth or 802.11 interfaces.

    In fact, I think their release of the M50x series and PalmOS 4 was a big mistake: it cost them lots of development time, they are in competition with the VisorEdge, and they are not compelling upgrades. They should have skipped that and instead pushed ahead forcefully on their new ARM platform and 32bit OS.

  • Many people have often pointed out that MS rarely gets anything right on the first try. But by the 3rd iteration or so, the competetion is in trouble. Look at Office, DirectX, and Windows itself.

    The competition is in trouble by the 3rd iteration not because Microsoft gets it right, but because Microsoft has manipulated the market so that there isn't any other realistic commercial choice anymore. Office, DirectX, and Windows may look pretty good to you now because there is simply little or no commercial competition anymore.

    As for WinCE, maybe people will be swayed by the powerful and nifty hardware that Microsoft specified. The OS itself and its UI are still lousy. Given how bulky and heavy the WinCE machines are still, I still don't see them succeeding.

    The Palm platform has lots of shortcomings and limitations: poor resolution, slow processor, limited OS. But it still does the basics better than the commercial alternatives. Palm can still catch up. Judging by their track record, Microsoft will never figure it out; if they win this market, it will only be because all the competitors with better products self-destruct.

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