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Handhelds Hardware

Palm Ships With 12-bit Screen, Says 16-Bit On Box 326

Launch was among the many readers to point out that "Palm recently announced that they made a mistake in their product description of the m130... it doesn't have the 16-bit screen they advertised. Rather then admit the mistake, Palm is using every ounce of their spinning power to mislead its less tech-savy customers into believing that the palm m130 can display 58,621 'color combinations' rather then the 'more than 65,000 colors' it had previously stated; only a 11% difference. This tricky language is meant to shade the fact that a 12-bit screen can only display 4,096 colors... that's a 93% difference." Have they not learned from the mistakes of history? On the other hand, the screen resolution is 160x160 pixels.
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Palm Ships With 12-bit Screen, Says 16-Bit On Box

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  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:27AM (#4117772) Homepage Journal
    There are plenty of geeks out there who would love to own a PDA with 4096 colors! That's the number of colors the Amiga could display. Think of the nostalgia value!
    • Bah. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      640 colours ought to be enough for everyone...
    • This would make doing a port of Hollywood Strip Poker Pro from the Amiga worthwhile :p
    • As soon as PalmUAE is released, I'm there, baby!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:33AM (#4117790)
    Ok, so Palm should just refund the 4 bits to everyone who bought the m130. Hell, it's only 50 cents, what's the big deal? :)
    • Ok, so Palm should just refund the 4 bits to everyone who bought the m130. Hell, it's only 50 cents, what's the big deal? :)

      Start 'New Math'

      Thats 4 bits per pixel @ 12.5 cents each.
      160x160 = 256000 Pixels.
      $12800 per unit

      Minus layer fees for the class action suite $12799.50 per unit
      Equals $.50 rebate coupon for a per user

      Right on AC Brother

  • Poor Service (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LaNMaN2000 ( 173615 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:34AM (#4117792) Homepage
    A company that actually cared about customer satisfaction would immediately offer to allow customers to return their PDAs, and a repackaging of unsold units to reflect the actual capabilities of the product. Though a recall would be expensive and likely require a product redesign, such an offer would likely be cost-effective and give consumers a reason to feel positively about the company.

    Since most people probably saw the PDAs before they bought them, they must have been satisfied enough with the appearance of the display at the time of purchase. It would therefore be unlikely that a specification change would convince them to return the PDA and lose any data that they stored on it.

    Why is it so difficult for companies to do the right thing, even if it will cultivate a more positive image for them in the long run, at a limited expense?
    • If they wanted to save money, they could just send out a coupon to all the owners who filled out their little registration card. $50 off the latest and greatest Palm. Most people would already have a PDA and not want a new one, and the majority of the warranty cards would go unreturned anyways.
      The appearance of doing the right thing, they save some money, and maybe the coupons will get circulated to someone who doesn't have a PDA, thereby getting a potential customer away from Handspring or HP...
    • Re:Poor Service (Score:2, Interesting)

      by goonies ( 227194 )
      It's not even necessary to recall all the PDAs and repack them. Simply send out Stickers that say 12bit Display and tell the sellers to put one on every box. Plus maybe a handout that informs of the "typo" in the handbook.
    • Why is it so difficult for companies to do the right thing, even if it will cultivate a more positive image for them in the long run, at a limited expense?

      In Palm's case its almost certainly because they are rapidly running out of money. Look at their most recent 10K filing [], which shows their cash reserves have fallen steadily over the last three years:

      June 2000: $1,062,128
      June 2001: $ 513,769
      June 2002: $ 278,547

      (all figures in thousands of dollars).

      I would guess that Palm are very reluctant to dip further into these dwindling cash reserves to fund a recall or other scheme. They believe the short term PR nightmare is better than the risk of running out of money.

      The real world is usually more complex and messy than simple ideas of what is "right" or "wrong". Of course sometimes (Enron, WorldCom) it can be pretty clear...
      • June 2000: $1,062,128
        June 2001: $ 513,769
        June 2002: $ 278,547
        (all figures in thousands of dollars).

        So in June of 2000, they had a billion dollars in cash? And now they only have 278 million? What the hell did they spend it all on, Enron stock?
  • 12 bit? (Score:3, Informative)

    by RawCode ( 464152 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:34AM (#4117795)
    This [] should explain that. From Wired:

    The m130 actually supports 4,096 colors typical of a 12-bit screen. But by using blending techniques, the company can display 58,621 "color combinations -- approximately 11 percent fewer color combinations than we had originally believed" on the m130 handheld, said Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak.
    • Re:12 bit? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gonar ( 78767 ) <sparkalicious@veri[ ].net ['zon' in gap]> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:49AM (#4117854) Homepage
      using the same techniques on a true 65k color display, you could probably get within 11% of true color.

      does that make weasel words and misrepresentations OK?

      this is bullshit marketing crap and they should be punished for it.

      dont buy this product. e-mail them and tell them you won't buy any of their products because you can't trust them.

      show them that honesty is important in business.

    • Re:12 bit? (Score:4, Funny)

      by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:16AM (#4117969)
      ... and when questioned about the blending technique, Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak replied, "each palm ships with a frosted glass display. The inability to see individual pixels or whole words for that matter dramatically increases the number of colors the user perceives".
      • Re:12 bit? (Score:2, Funny)

        by stickyc ( 38756 )
        "each palm ships with a frosted glass display. The inability to see individual pixels or whole words for that matter dramatically increases the number of colors the user perceives".

        Where I come from, a similar effect is achieved with generous application of alcohol.

        My people call the technique "Beer Goggles".

    • From wired:
      But by using blending techniques, the company can display 58,621 "color combinations

      This is exactly how Palm wants people to perceive the Knowledge Library article. I.e. that the m130 can *display* 58,621 color combinations. This is simply not true.

      Now have a look at Palm's Knowledge Libarary article:
      Palm is updating its statements of color capability, because it has since learned that the combination of color technologies it employed deliver about 58,621 color combinations, an approximate 11 percent difference.

      Note now they use the word *deliver* instead of *display*. The m130 can only *display* 4096 colors at a time, but by updating those colors realy fast, it can create the *illusion* of 58,621 colors. The colors are 'delivered' to the user's mind, by tricking his brain into blending different colors.

      • It's not even as complex as switching colors rapidly. They are talking about dithering. If you have a grid of four pixels and you change those four pixels you can get a variety of colors in the larger space those four pixels occupy.

        It's just plain BS on Palm's part.
    • Re:12 bit? (Score:4, Funny)

      by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @10:13AM (#4118325) Journal
      Color combinations, eh?

      So if I have a 2-pixel by 2-pixel screen whose pixels display either black (on) or white (off), I can claim my screen supports 5 color combinations:

      1. Black (4 black pixels)
      2. Dark Grey (3 black, 1 white)
      3. Quasi Grey (2 black, 2 white) -- The Margarine of Grey, not Grey enough
      4. Light Grey (1 black, 3 white)
      5. White (4 white)
      That makes sense, if I've gone cross-eyed and can see only a big blur of the average of colors.
    • If a 12-bit screen can display 58,621 "color combinations" then by definition of "combination"
      a 13-bit screen can display 117242, and a 16-bit screen can display 937936 "color combinations"

      Thats WAY THE HELL MORE "color combinations" than 65535.

      Thats a bullshit statement anyway you say it.
  • by Alien Being ( 18488 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:35AM (#4117798)
    an old Steven Wright joke that went something like...

    I went to the 24 hour store and the clerk was closing up.

    "I thought you were open 24 hours."
    "Not in a row."
  • by Vortran ( 253538 ) <> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:36AM (#4117804) Homepage
    Calling Mr. Muris! Mr. Muris? Are you there?

    I do believe reading a quote from Tim where he said that the FTC will not tolerate companies not living up to their promises and misrepresenting their products.

    I'll be very curious to learn if we get any FTC action on this.

    .sig - Would not a Microsoft employee, by any other name, smell the same?
    Vortran out
  • by Launch ( 66938 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:38AM (#4117815)
    Apparently this debate has been going on a long time... Palm info center has a good article [] about it... And the PIC forum [] where the debate first broke.
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:39AM (#4117819) Homepage
    I sure hope red is one of those 4096 colours ...
  • 93% difference (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jukal ( 523582 )
    I belive that for the user experience the difference must be just a few percents - especially on a palm device with a limited resolution and screen size. Ofcourse, the coolness factor can decrease by 99%, but that does not matter in reality.
    • by ajs ( 35943 )
      The difference will not show in most of the productivity apps that are popular on palm devices, but the new big push, and certainly my reason for wanting color on a palmtop is the Web. Browsing the Web with a 12-bit pallette is going to hurt.

      Try this. XFree86 allows -depth settings of 5, 15 and 16 among others. Try firing up a server under 16 bits. Bring up a browser and view a few sites. Then re-start the server at 15 bits and see the massive difference. Now imagine that difference magnified by a factor of 8! 12 bit display would really suck.

      And all that assumes average Web needs. If you work with color-sensitive applications (no, Timmy pr0n is not the only thing that needs rich color), the palmtop becomes worthless for previewing someone's work while you're on the run.
  • Better linkage.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by SteveX ( 5640 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:43AM (#4117833) Homepage
    It's a shame that Slashdot linked to an article about the Jornada's problem that didn't mention HP's awesome response: Offering a full refund to anyone who bought one. Palm is coming nowhere close to this.

    - Steve
    • Re:Better linkage.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Queuetue ( 156269 )
      Read the article - It does mention it.

      According to AlexanderOgilvy, H-P's public relations firm for the Jornada handheld devices, an upgrade is simply not possible. (Jornada 420 owners will recall that last year H-P released a software upgrade to the device's display driver to increase resolution.) AlexanderOgilvy also confirmed that H-P would refund the full purchase price of any dissatisfied Jornada 540 series Pocket PC buyer.
      • Ah yes you're right, I missed that.

        Still, the article is a pretty negative one considering that I don't think there's a better response HP could have made.. Most companies deny the existence of problems.

        I have an iPaq and I'm still miffed about the fact that you can't push more than one button at a time (makes playing games on it very difficult). Compaq doesn't think it's a problem.

        = Steve
  • No seriously, why would anyone buy PDAs with the likes of the Nokia and Ericsson PDA/Mobiles hitting the market ? Less functionality, less stable OS, all around its not as good a product.

    So sure they've lied about the colours, but then they have to or it doesn't stand out _at all_ amoung similar products with better functionality and PDA/Phones that wipe the floor with it.
    • Re:Death to PDAs! (Score:3, Informative)

      There are plenty of reasons to want a Palm over a 'Smart' cell phone-

      Screen Size
      I have an Erricson 68i, and it's cool, but the tiny screen isn't something I really want to read email on. Of course, people say 'Well, it's just for quick mobile messages' but the people sending me email don't know that.

      Lots of Applications
      Ever browse through the list of applications out there for Palms? People have developed applications for almost any need, from graphing calculators on par with TI-85s to databases that help Landing Signal Officers on aircraft carriers grade landings.

      Better Text Input
      I am not a Japanese schoolgirl, so I can't type 80wpm with my thumbs on a cell phone...

      Better Sync with my Computer (OS X)
      Most of the 'Smart' cell phones only offer Windows sync software that works with Outlook.

      I think the only product that really gets the CellPhone/PDA hybrid right is the Treo, but I refuse to pay/live with Handspring's very plasticky build quality that feels like a toy.

      • The Kyocera 6035 Smartphone.

        Like the Treo, it was designed as a phone first and not a PDA, but with minimal sacrifice of PDA features.

        Small screen? Only marginally smaller than those of traditional palms. (I think a difference of around 5mm...)

        Apps? Like the Treo, fully PalmOS compatible.

        Screen? Only black and white, but that's why the Kyocera blows away every other integrated phone (and many pure-phone devices) in battery life. Standby times of a week with the phone portion turned on are not unheard of.

        Overall, from reviews of user experiences, the 6035, while having less features, is more user-satisfying. Partly due to the fact that it in general is a pretty tough phone. (It has a few weak points, but in general, many have accidentally dropped it on concrete/down stairs with the phone barely even getting scratched.)

        The Kyocera 7135 (Coming out in September or October most likely - Kyo is being VERY secretive about the release date, but Verizon/Sprint reps seem to think Sept/Oct) is going to have a larger display, 16M memory, a flip design so it's smaller overall. Unfortunately, it's giving in to the color-screen fad. :(
  • by AssFace ( 118098 ) <> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:47AM (#4117846) Homepage Journal
    before I was darn positive I could be playing the new Doom 3 on it and bask in the sheer beauty. Now I have so few colors that I'm not even sure it is still truly color.
    I wonder if my e-mails and phone numbers will even work with the fewer colors?
    probably not.
  • Original pics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Draoi ( 99421 ) <draiocht@mac. c o m> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:51AM (#4117860)
    Here [] are the original pics that broke the story on the Palm message boards ..

    And, yeah, I do have a Palm M130. My partner recently bought a re-con Handspring at Fry's and I was amazed at the qualitative difference of the tro screens .... *grr*

  • Blending techniques (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hugesmile ( 587771 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:51AM (#4117861)
    But by using blending techniques, the company can display 58,621 "color combinations -- approximately 11 percent fewer color combinations than we had originally believed" on the m130 handheld, said Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak.

    I wonder if those blending techniques amount to bleed from one pixel to another, and it's actually poor quality and the user's eyes that are doing the blending.

    I imagine those SAME blending techniques would yield 65536 x 65536 colors in 16-bits, and so they are actually significantly more than 99% off the specification.

    ok, graphics geeks... factor 58,621. You get 31 x 31 x 61. Looks like 5-bits, 5-bits, and 6-bits, blended. I'm wondering how they came up with that number of colors! Any ideas?

    • by roarl ( 137495 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @10:02AM (#4118246)
      ok, graphics geeks... factor 58,621. You get 31 x 31 x 61. Looks like 5-bits, 5-bits, and 6-bits, blended. I'm wondering how they came up with that number of colors! Any ideas?

      By dithering (mixing) 4 pixels in a 2x2 pattern, 16 colors can be mixed into (16-1)*4+1 = 31 colors. By dithering 2x1 pixels, 16 colors can be mixed into (16-1)*2+1 = 15 colors. So, by using a 2x2 dither pattern for green, and a 2x1 dither pattern for red and blue, 31x31x61 colors can be produced.

      I do believe this is the correct explanation, but it seems so contrived that I suspect some boss ordered his engineer to invent a reason to come up with a number close to 65536. In a program, it would be much easier to do a 2x2 dither pattern for all three components, yielding 226981 colors.

      For interested readers, a transition from one color to another using a 2x2 dither pattern can be as follows.

      00 10 10 11 11
      00 00 01 01 11

      As you see, two colors turns into (2-1)*4+1 color patterns.

  • To be fair... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:56AM (#4117883)
    Not that I want to defend potentially misleading advertising, which there does appear to have been here, but the story is a bit unfair. It starts:
    Palm recently announced that they made a mistake
    Then in the next sentence:
    Rather then admit the mistake, Palm is using every ounce of their spinning power
    So they admit it but they don't admit it? Hmm. Get them for the dodgy advertising, sure, but I'm not sure how you can accuse a company of not admitting a mistake when your proof of that mistake is the company's admission of it.
    • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:33AM (#4118055) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      I'm not sure how you can accuse a company of not admitting a mistake when your proof of that mistake is the company's admission of it.

      Well, "announcement" and "admission" are two different things. You can announce something unconsciously, through the actions you take. But you can only admit something through an act of will... indeed, the essence of admission is the standing apart and making that act of will. Here, Palm recognized that they used 12 bits, not 16 bits ... but they're trying hard to spin that it wasn't a (major) mistake. They want it to be a counting error (58,000 instead of 65,000 -- oops) and not a major design/programming issue.

      My issue with Palm's behavior is this: They seem to be changing how they count colors -- falling back on this undefined "color combination" thing -- and they seem to be doing it in midstream without telling anyone. As far as I'm concerned that's tantamount to falsifying data.

  • by joshtimmons ( 241649 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:56AM (#4117884) Homepage
    The only thing I can come up with is that it's 31*31*61. (Obviously not a coincidence)

    16 bit color would be 32*32*64.

    12 bit color would be 16*16*16.

    When they refer to color combinations, they can't be possible color values for adjacent pixels - that would be a huge number.

    Any ideas?
    • by Captain Large Face ( 559804 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:06AM (#4117924) Homepage

      Close your eyes and hit your numeric keypad 5 times. You might be close then..

    • If you combine two adjacent pixels on a 12 bit display, you have levels from 0-30 for each colour channel. That's 31 levels per colour. 31^3 = 29791 unique colours for two pixel dithering.

      That's still not the right number, but they must be thinking along those lines somehow.

    • It's really quite simple.

      Say you have two 4-bit gray pixels next to each other, and you want to know how many possible grays you could get with them in combination.

      Obviously, you could make them the same shade, which would give you 16 values. You could also make them differ by one, so you have X next to X+1, giving you intermediate shades. You'd think that would give you 32 possible combinations, but in the case of X==15, X+1==16 which is invalid, so you end up with only 31 representable shades. (Making two adjacent pixels differ by two shades is useless because putting shade 7 next to shade 9 is basically the same as putting two 8's next to each other.)

      But one of them is 61, you say. How do they get that? Also simple. In this case, you use a 2x2 block of pixels. You can get X, X, X, X, or you can get X, X, X, X+1, or X, X, X+1, X+1, or X, X+1, X+1, X+1 as possible combinations. However, you because of the case where X==15 makes X+1 invalid, you don't get 16+16+16+16 but rather 16+15+15+15 which is 61.

      The reader can easily generalize this to color. What they probably did was dither pairs of adjacent pixels for red and green and groups of four for blue, because the human eye has less fovial resolution for blue, or maybe they do groups of four for green because the eye has greater sensitivity to more shades of green.

      Thus, we have 31*31*61 colors or 58621.

      This, therefore, is a simple ordered dithering technique. The fact that this is transparent to us geeks/mathematicians is of no consequence to either the marketing suits or most people using the thing.

      In case you were wondering how many colors you could get using real 16-bit color and the same 2x1 /2x2 ordered dithering technique, we can work it out here.

      Let's assume we're using 565 color which gives 32 shades of red and blue and 64 shades of green. If we did 2x1 dithering on red and blue and 2x2 dithering on green, we'd get this:

      Red: 32+31 = 63
      Blue: 32+31 = 63
      Green: 64+63+63+63 = 253

      63*63*253 = 1004157

      If we use Palm marketing speek, that gives us 19.9375 bit color.
  • 160x160 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KittyTheCat ( 542416 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:00AM (#4117904)
    My first thought is that on a 160x160 pixel screen, you can only ever possibly see 25,600 colors at a time because there are only 25,600 pixels total.
    • Re:160x160 (Score:2, Informative)

      by crosbie ( 446285 )

      "display 58,621 'color combinations'"

      Colour combinations?

      This is the same as the number of different arrangements of 4,096 symbols in a sequence of 25,600 (160x160).

      If the number of different combinations of 2 symbols (binary) in a sequence of n (bits) is 2^n, then the Palm can display 4096^25600 different colour combinations (ignoring symmetry).

      That's.... erm...

      2 ^( 25600 x log2(4096) )

      which is: 2^307200

      Cor! Wot a lot of colour combos! (and quite a few of them are probably copyrighted, obscene, etc.)
      • This is the same as the number of different arrangements of 4,096 symbols in a sequence of 25,600 (160x160).
        How did you get that?

        I can't think of a single way to arrange 4096 symbols into a sequence of 25,600; there just aren't enough symbols. I'm not joking here--I really don't understand what you've done mathematically.

    • But doesn't a smaller number of bits mean that the colours come from a more restricted palette i.e. for my 16 bit screen I could get many more shades of pink than with a 12 bit screen...
    • Re:160x160 (Score:3, Informative)

      by topham ( 32406 )
      If it were simply 4096 from a palette you'd be right, but it isn't.

      It is 4096 colour DEPTH. Thats it.

      Basicly, that means your stuck with 4 bits of red, 4 bits of green, 4 bits of blue. So, 16 shades of red, blue green.

      With a palette based method it could atleast be 4,096 from 16 million, or some-such. it isn't.

      I'd be pissed if I had bought one of these.

      • It's the only reply close to pointing out the problem with his logic. And pointing out the problem is a lot more important since his post is now modded up to 5 :(
  • MS Wins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n-baxley ( 103975 ) <nate&baxleys,org> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:08AM (#4117935) Homepage Journal
    I own a Palm device, actually an Handera 330. I've had one in some form for 5 years. I like my Palm. I want to keep buying palms, but I won't be able to.
    As much as I hate to say it, it appears to be only a matter of time before Microsoft takes over the handheld arena. Palm, like Netscape before it, is not the suffering saint being crushed by the giant, but rather a bunch of incompetent fools. They have has 95% of the market in handhelds just a few years ago, and what have they done with it? Nothing! They issue late releases that tought minimal imrpovements and then pull stunts like this. If it were not for Sony and Handspring, I believe that Palm would already be gone. Please! Get your act in gear or leave the party.
    • And don't forget that they now charge for upgrades to newer PalmOS versions, I'm stuck on 3.1 since I refuse to pay for 3.5/4/4.1. If they were still fixing bugs for 3.1, and providing some real security for it then I could understand charging for the new features in updates. But this is a typical 'You must pay to fix things we screwed up with' scenario.

      And Apple are falling into the same trap. Aaargh. Microsoft don't need to be evil anymore, they can just sit back and let the competition screw it up on their own.
    • Re:MS Wins (Score:2, Informative)

      by Troed ( 102527 )
      Microsoft? Are you nuts? ;)

      Sony Ericsson P800 []

      Symbian []

      Tech people have been drooling over this one for a long time .. forget carrying two devices.

    • when they came for newton, i did not speak up, because i did not own a newton

      when they came for windows for pen, i did not speak up, because i did not use it.

      when they came for palm, no one was left to speak for me
    • Re:MS Wins (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CaseyB ( 1105 )
      Palm, like Netscape before it, is not the suffering saint being crushed by the giant, but rather a bunch of incompetent fools.

      I hadn't considered this comparison. It's 100% dead on. Palm are resting on their market share, at a dead stop on product evolution, in precisely the same way as Netscape circa 3.0. They've lost their hunger.

      I'll feel as little sadness for Palm's demise as I did for Netscape's. And likely the same disdain when the antitrust lawyers are inevitably summoned in a last-ditch attempt to make some cash on the way down.

    • Leaving the party... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      Didn't Palm announce a while ago their intentions to phase out their hardware business and simply license PalmOS?

      (Which blows away WinCE hands-down, period.)

      MS will never win because WinCE devices have the same pitfalls that kept the Newton in the niche - They're too big. Palms are smaller. Period. In the PDA market, smaller size and better battery life will go a LONG way to making up for a lack of snazzy "features" like color screens (battery hog), 64M RAM (as if the color screen weren't killing your battery already), and a 200+ MHz processor (User: Hey, my palm lasted for a month on a pair of AAAs, why won't this POS last more than a day or so between charges???)

      Yes, Palm's market share has gone down, but probably most of their marketshare loss has gone to Handspring and Sony (Also to Kyocera and Samsung with their smartphone products)... Oh wait, they're paying Palm for the OS anyway. Not that much of a loss for them.

      The i705 is a sucky idea, except for the unlimited use factor. The new trend is combining full voice phone capabilities into the device (Kyocera Smartphone 6035 and the upcoming 7135, Samsung i300, Handspring Treos)
      • Didn't Palm announce a while ago their intentions to phase out their hardware business and simply license PalmOS?

        Exactly. The OS is holding the hardware makers back. Handera and Sony both had to back proprietary hacks to get some of their advanced features to work. Palm (OS) needs to kick it in gear to keep their partners from leaving. Handspring has already mentioned that a PocketPC version of the Treo is not out of the question.

        MS will never win because WinCE devices have ... pitfalls

        But, you forget the one thing they having going for them. Integration! Joe blow consumer wants to be able to move seamlessly from his desktop to his PDA. MS does that out of the box, Palm, does not.
    • I would not go that far yet. I agree that Palm loses. However that stil leaves Handspring and the Sharp Zaurus.

      OK the fact that I am the only person to mention Zaurus so far in the thread view probably says it all, even though I am quit happy with my SL 5000D now that I have got the ROM update installed (before the update was a different story)

      I think that Palm is out because they are doing an Apple, they are sticking resolutely to the initial 'vision' of a pinhead who cannot understand the difference between an advantage in the introductory phase and a long term advantage. Apple folk still get upset about my comment on their one button mouse, but the fact is that Apple still has not realised that the approach appropriate in 2002 is not necessarily the one that worked in 1984 when a 16 bit machine was high tech and a hard drive super luxury class.

      Palm has the same problem, they are going after the filofax market. Problem is that only 5% of the population is super organized Martha Stuart types who compulsively enter every appointment into their calendar... Not only don't I care, I don't want to care. I have a handheld to browse the web while I am in the hot tub, to play solitaire and to do the odd bit of email.

  • On the other hand, the screen resolution is 160x160 pixels.
    As of the last time I coded for PalmOS anyway, the documentation made it clear that 160x160 was the size of the a PalmOS system's screen, and I could assume that and even hard-code it. (Of course, a few months later I saw PalmOS systems from Sony at 320x320, but...)
  • take action (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mhatt ( 6281 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:26AM (#4118017)
    If you're mad, vote with your wallet. And print out the following letter and mail it to:

    Palm, Inc. Corporate Headquarters
    400 N. McCarthy Blvd.
    Milpitas, CA 95035

    This is in reference to the "updated characterization of the Palm m130's color capabilities." I just wanted to let you know that your deliberate attempt to conceal the truth has convinced me that I will NEVER support Palm by buying one of its products. The knowledge base article claims that the difference between the advertised 16-bit display and the delivered 12-bit is 11%, and compares actual colors with "color combinations", using some crazy formula, to arrive at this figure. This is a blatant lie. A 12-bit screen can display only 4096 colors, a 93% difference. You are comparing apples to oranges for the sole purpose of deceiving customers who bought this product and abating anticipated complaints.

    This bit of dishonesty is unacceptable and likely indicative of deeper lying dishonesty. Perhaps your marketing division would benefit from the honesty lessons that your financial division should have learned in the wake of the public attention brought to corporate dishonesty in fiscal reportings. I have no wish to deal with a company like yours. It is very clear that your customers are not your first priority, though whether you have made such claims I don't know.

    I am a computer science major and tech enthusiast, who both buys many tech products myself and makes recommendations to friends and family who actively seek out my advice; many of them won't make such purchases without first getting my input. Be it known that not only will I not recommend your products, but will go out of my way to recommend against them.

    Thanks for your time.

    Of course, change it a bit so it makes sense for you.
    • Re:take action (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zoombat ( 513570 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @11:58AM (#4119255)
      I think maybe it would help to rephrase your letter such that it gives Palm some way to say, "Oops, you're right, that was stupid. We'll change our behavior." and then perhaps get your business back. Otherwise I'd say you're less likely to motivate them towards change. For example if you said something like "I just wanted to let you know that your deliberate attempt to conceal the truth has convinced me that I will withdraw my support of Palm by refusing to buy any one of its products until you ______."

      Otherwise they might just think "Well, we already lost everyone who we're going to lose with this, why bother changing now if we aren't going to get them back by changing, and we're not going to lose anyone else by staying course?"

      I think you've got to give them the benefit of the doubt (if they back off and do what you think is right) and write it off as something that some marketing schmutz made a mistake on that the company doesn't stand behind. On the other hand if you think this 12-bit thing is an example of a systemic Palm, Inc. problem, then you need to site other examples that back up your idea, rather than just blaiming it all on this one issue.
  • The comments on this topic are sort of nuts! Everyone who is defending Palm because you're a big fan of the company and see them as some poor little underdog who could never do anything wrong, please just read the article again, pretending Microsoft did this and give me your hypothetical reply to that.
  • Well, if it is 12-bit color PLUS some funky "frame-rate control" and "dithering", they can claim 58k in an underhanded way.

    The question is... can they control the frame-rate for each pixel individually, or only for the whole screen at a time? With dithering, you're relying on the adjacent pixel color to "fool" your eye into seeing a color that's not there. With only 160x160 pixels on the screen, the pixels are too coarse and too few to make that work effectively.

    The real question is: how many colors can you display on the screen AT THE SAME TIME? Seeing as there's only 25,600 pixels, I'd expect they should be able to display 25,600 colors at the same time if they were going to make their claims above with a "clear conscience".

    Then again, I'm in marketing myself... and having a clear conscience is not always possible... q:]

  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:55AM (#4118210)
    My old Palm V was getting pretty outdated with its old 2-bit black and white display. But now, thanks to Palm's patented "blending" (or is it "spinning?") technology, I've been upgraded to 65,536 colors! That's right, by merely frosting the display (with sandpaper), I can no longer discern anything smaller than a 4x4 block of pixels, yeilding 2^(4*4) = 65,536* glorious colors**!

    * No claim of uniqueness for each color is expressed or implied

    ** If Gray isn't a color, what is it?

  • It seems to me that this issue (color depth) is most problematic when you're dealing with a gradient of a single hue -- i.e. "how many shades of pink do I have?" So here's how we evaluate their claim. Find another PDA or LCD display device that does indeed have 16 bits of color. Create some PNG files, each with a different gradient: black to grey, black to red, black to green, etc. View this same image side by side on the Palm's screen and an LCD of simiar technology that has a full 16 bits. If you can see a big difference in the "banding" due to lack of unique colors, then truely 12 bits are not almost equivalent to 16. You could easily simulate this if you wanted to (using Gimp, Photoshop, etc) but that misses the point.

    And BTW, to the poster the claimed that since there's only 25600 pixels on the screen that this is not an issue: Get a clue! The color depth has nothing to do with how many pixels you want to display. It's about how many shades you have available, and how faithfully you can represent an image. With 12 bits of color, you only have 16 levels of pure grey. If you had a grayscale image with a lot of contrast, you'd probably see banding because there's not enough available levels to represent the image. This has nothing to do with the total number of pixels on the screen!
  • My monitor can show millions of colors, and I still can't see visited links on slashdot because the color blends in with regular text.

    (Some of us don't have the 'underlining' turned on!)
  • The actual number of colours is 4096, and their estimate was 65536, making their estimate off by 1500%.
  • "tricky language" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drobbins ( 6287 )
    You'll notice that 3Com says that two techniques are used to turn this 12-bit screen into a pseudo-16-bit screen. The first of these techniques is "frame rate techniques," in which pixels are changed quickly between two colors in order to simulate a third color -- now, *if* this is being done *in hardware*, then I think it's fair for them to say that they have "x *effective* colors," where x > 4096.

    What gets me is when they have to fall back on mentioning dithering -- the process of using *multiple* pixels to simulate an intermediate color. I hope they are doing this in hardware and not relying on Palm developers to do it for them. :) Even so, unlike "frame rate techniques", I don't see "dithering" (even when done in hardware) as a means to boost their claim of the number of colors that their panel can display, because even hardware-based dithering will degrade the effective screen resolution.

    I think that people are interested in "bits per *pixel*." If 3Com wants to say "5 *effective* bits per pixel," (because they're using hardware-based pixel-flipping techniques) then I think that's acceptable. But if you're going to avoid mentioning pixels and start talking about "color combinations," then I think they've crossed the line of common sense and are trying to be deceptive. We don't care about how many possible colors we can display using 4 pixels -- we want to know how many we can display using *1 pixel*!

  • You know, 4096 colors is a far cry from 65,535, but in the whole thick of things its not that big of a deal. (Except maybe for those who are trying to port photoshop). I'm glad that Palm admitted their mistake. Many, many companies do far worse on a daily basis, fully aware of their deceitful actions.

  • by floppy ears ( 470810 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @01:09PM (#4119807) Homepage
    This reminds me of the Lionel Hutz flyer that says:
    Works on contingency

    No money down
    And when the Simpsons question him on this he says it's a typo and adds punctuation so that it reads:
    Works on contingency?

    No, money down.
    And then he adds, "And I shouldn't have this Bar Association logo here either ..."
  • ...and then explained it had been a mistake, but that the engine delivered "nearly v8 performance", the government and Consumer's Union would have their asses in court. Why is Palm held to a lower standard? They said the display was 16-bit, people bought it, but it's only 12-bit. That, my friends and fellow slashdoters, is fraud. And it's only only legal if you're a big corporation - oh wait, never mind then.

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