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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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  • REFUND!! REFUND!! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Ghengis ( 73865 ) <SLowLaRIS@[ ]X.Rules ['xNI' in gap]> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:29AM (#4117777) Homepage Journal
    They should follow in HP's footsteps with a full refund. Then, maybe their customers can use the money to get a cool (and more honestly advertised) PDA like a Handspring or a Sony. Just my 2 cents.
  • 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?
  • 93% difference (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jukal ( 523582 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:39AM (#4117822) Journal
    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.
  • 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.

  • 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:Excuse me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Draoi ( 99421 ) <draiocht@[ ].com ['mac' in gap]> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:56AM (#4117888)
    Except that people *know* it. Oh look, the crappy Compaq only has a 12-bit screen depth. I think I'll buy the cool Palm M130, 'coz it's got 65,000 colours ....

    Palm published incorrect information which probably led many away from competitors' products. This is serious stuff. Now those people (including me) feel a bit deceived.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2002 @08:59AM (#4117901)
    Simple answer: They lied about their product.

    Imagine you buy a PC which is advertised as having 512Mb of RAM. When you get it home, you find that the BIOS only reports 256Mb of RAM. Miffed, you call the company, who then explains that this is true, it does only have 256Mb of RAM, but using swap space, it'll really be just like having 512Mb of RAM. Except it will be more like 448Mb of RAM, because you can't have a 256Mb swap.

    Are you saying you wouldn't be pissed?
  • 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:Excuse me? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by liquidsin ( 398151 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:04AM (#4117920) Homepage
    Compaq actually markets the iPaq as having a 12 bit screen. Therefore, people who wanted higher res may have bought the Palm instead, thinking they were getting something much better. Oh, by the way, I have a computer to sell you. It runs at 17 Ghz. Ok, I lied, it's only 1.5 Ghz, but your old computer was only 800 Mhz, so really, why are you complaining?

  • Re:Excuse me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jerrytcow ( 66962 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:08AM (#4117934) Homepage
    Why is everyone jumping on Palm about this? The Compaq iPAQ has a 12-bit screen and produces *ONLY* 4,096 colors. The m130, by contrast, produces *MORE* colors, using blending techniques.

    Because the blending technique is nothing more than dithering.

    From the Palm support site []:
    The color technologies Palm employed in the m130 handheld to deliver text and images include frame-rate control and dithering techniques. (Frame-rate control turns pixels off or on to deliver a specific shade of color. Dithering uses a group of adjacent pixels to convey a composite color.)

    If Palm gets away with this, we will never know the bit depth of video cards, handhelds, cell phones, etc. since companies will be able to claim any number they want because their product's display can dither. I say nip this in the bud and get Palm to admit it only produces 4,096 colors.
    And yes, I am aware that they claim it uses "frame rate control" too, but it seems this is nothing more than a pixel flashing so it appears to be a less intense color - surely all displays could do this too.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:27AM (#4118023)
    only a matter of time before Microsoft takes over the handheld arena.

    I heard that in the late 1990's. Microsoft was comming out with a PDA. It was going to bury Apple's Newton.

    The 1st attempt was 'windows for pen'. Apple's Netwon outlasted that. Palm came into existance and outlasted 'windows for pen'

    Then I heard that Microsoft's PDA would have more features than the Newton. The Newton line was sporting quicktime, text to speech and speech to text in 1996-1997 timeframe. Only in the next CENTURY did Microsoft's platform catch up.

    Windows for Pen - dead
    Windows CE - dead
    now its some other product. When will that be dead too?

    Apple's Newton was killed off by Jobs, so that helped Microsoft.

    Like 'death of UseNet', Microsoft taking over I'll belive it when I see it. Until they DO Take over, I can use Palm OS in a handspring and send data over the cell phone. And if palm/handspring goes tits up, I can pick the Sybian phone(s). If they die, someone will have a BSD or gnu/linux one. Only when I have no other realistic choice than an MS software based phone will I hold my nose and buy one.
  • Re:No Concerns (Score:4, Insightful)

    by realgone ( 147744 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:29AM (#4118033)
    In all truth, can anyone beyond hardcore geeks tell the difference in you desktop when you swap from 16 bit color to 32-bit color?
    Speaking as a professional designer -- yes, absolutely. Back in the day when 16-bit displays were all too common, I'd have to use them to show 32-bit work to clients. Almost invariably, those clients would notice the resulting dithering/banding in the art. I'd have to reassure them that these were screen artifacts that wouldn't show up in the printed output. And these were hardly tech-savvy people.

    But beyond that, I'm not even sure your 16-bit v. 32-bit example is a fair comparison in this case. The differences between individual "adjacent" colors get smaller and smaller the larger you make the palette. To argue your case might be like arguing that the difference between .0001 and .001 is the same as that between 1.0 and 0.1; sure, it's only a decimal place, but the resulting error would be far greater in the second case.

    Excellent example, the color books at Sherwin Williams, you really think that have over 4000 different colors in that book, and most of those almost look that same as another color.
    Terrible example. Were you planning to use all 4,000 of those colors on your wall at the same time? (If the answer's "yes", I'd like to humbly apologize, Sir Elton John. My mother loves your music.)
  • 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.

  • Re:160x160 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2002 @09:45AM (#4118146)
    Imagine a gradient from #004000 to #007F00, spanning the full height of 160 pixels. Each color band is 10 pixels wide on a 16 bit screen (r5g6b5), but on a 12 bit screen, there are only 4(!) bands, each 40 pixels wide. Dither that.
  • Re:That's ok... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2002 @10:53AM (#4118652)
    HAM still wasn't pixel-addressable. Unless you limited yourself to 16 colors, you had to use the "modify" bits. The downside to this was that any kind of realtime application (word processor, game, paint program) had to do all the extra mucking about with remapping up to a 3-pixel wide fringe around any moving object. On a 7.14 mhz 68000, this was non-trivial. The paint programs that attempted it showed the pain - after every stroke the screen would regenerate and the color fringes around your strokes would be refined.

    HAM was great for pre-rendered graphics, like scans or Sculpt3D or Imagine animations, since all this HAM arcana could be worked out in advance.

    So, while HAM was really cool for letting you do full color 3D rendering, and play it back at 60 fields per second, it sucked hard for any kind of real-time drawing.
  • Re:MS Wins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CaseyB ( 1105 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @11:25AM (#4118929)
    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.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson