MobileTechReview.com PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide

PDA Phone Notebooks Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion

Advertisement

PDA Reviews

Palm T|X

Editor's rating (1-5):
Discuss this product
Where to Buy

Reviewed Oct. 12, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Palm's latest high end PDA packs a great feature set yet a mid-range price of only $299. It's currently the least expensive PDA offering both Bluetooth and WiFi. It's got a high res plus 320 x 480 display, 128 megs of persistent memory for storage and a built-in MP3 player. As with other high end PDAs, it can also play videos, show photos and connect to the Internet for web browsing, email and instant messaging using WiFi or a Bluetooth phone as a modem. The T|X doesn't have the Tungsten name, just as the Palm Z22, released on the same day doesn't have Zire in its name. Palm is retiring these two names, and is using the letters to help consumers devise these devices' lineage. Were the Tungsten name still alive, the T|X would be among its ranks.

Palm T|X
back of Palm T|X

 

The T|X replacees Palm's pricier Tungsten T5 released a year ago. The T5 was $399 at release, yet lacked WiFi and the long awaited Cobalt OS, and so it garnered less than a stellar rating. The T|X remedies the WiFi shortcoming, but the new OS has been delayed due to changes at PalmSource, the folks who make the OS (Palm makes devices, PalmSource was spun off in 2003 and makes the operating system). The T|X falls behind the T5 only in the CPU and memory categories: the T|X has a 312 MHz Intel processor while the T5 has a 416 MHz Intel processor, and the T5 has more memory.

In the Box

Palm includes a USB sync cable, charger (US, not world), quick setup guide, software CD with PDF manual and a detachable flip cover which slides into the left side rail.

Design and Ergonomics

The T|X looks very much like the T5, which itself harks back to the popular Palm V design from years past. It's an attractive, slim and modern looking PDA. The T|X is matte black (with a hint of blue) and the "palm" logo and button icons are masked in white. The color is quite attractive, though it does nothing to mask the fact the casing is plastic. Simplicity is a hallmark of Palm design, so the user isn't overwhelmed by a plethora of buttons. Up front below the LCD you'll find four application launcher buttons which flank a roomy and responsive directional pad. As with all Palm PDAs, you can assign any application you wish to these buttons. The included flip cover fits into the left side rail and the stylus slides into the right side of the PDA. The SD slot, power button, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and IR window are located on the top edge. The single mono speaker's grill is located on the back. The sync and charge connectors are located on the bottom edge of the T|X and each plugs into the device individually.

side of Palm T|X

 

Horsepower and Performance

The T|X uses Intel's latest, greatest processor, the Intel XScale PXA 270 ("Bulverde") running at 312 MHz. That's a lower megahertz rating than the T5, and Palm likely went with the slower CPU to keep the T|X's price so low. The PDA feels responsive in all activities and can handle video up to 450 kbps smoothly. Like the Treo 650 and T5, the T|X uses non-volatile flash ROM memory rather than RAM for data storage. That means even if the battery runs dry, your programs and files will remain intact, since flash ROM doesn't require power to preserve its contents, unlike RAM. The T|X has a generous 128 megs of flash ROM, approximately 114.8 of which are available for your use to store programs, photos, MS Office files and whatever else you wish.

 

 

 

Deals and Shopping

 

 

 

 

If you need more storage for MP3s, videos, photos or anything else, you can use SD cards to expand memory. The T|X can address larger cards: we tested it with a 2 gig Kingston SD card and it worked without a problem. In addition, the SD slot supports SDIO for SD networking cards and other SD card-based I/O products.

Display and Multimedia

A large display is a delight to the eyes and allows you to work more efficiently. You'll be able to see more of a web page, more cells in an Excel spreadsheet and scroll less in eBooks using the T|X's 320 x 480 transflective color display. The screen can display 65,000 colors and has reasonably good color saturation. Both photos and videos look good on screen, and the higher resolution means better quality video compared to 320 x 320 Palm models or 240 x 320 QVGA Pocket PCs. The screen is adequately bright, though not overwhelming and lacks the vibrance of recent HP iPAQ Pocket PCs such as the iPAQ rx1950, but the T|X's higher resolution may win you over. Like the Tungsten T5 and LifeDrive, the T|X supports both portrait and landscape modes.

Given the roomy 3.8" diagonal display and high resolution, the T|X is a natural for movie playback. The PDA comes with Palm's own Media application for photo and video viewing, but you'll want to get the excellent free TCPMP application which offers great performance and supports every popular video file format. Videos encoded at up to 450 kbps played back smoothly on the T|X.

For MP3 playback, Palm bundles the popular Pocket Tunes. This full-featured MP3 player is skinnable and supports playlists, playback with the screen off to conserve power, background playback, repeat, shuffle and syncing with Windows Media Player on the desktop for music download. Sound out through the mono speaker is surprisingly decent and loud, but you'll want to plug a set of headphones into the standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack for high quality music playback. How many tunes can you store? That's limited only by the capacity of the SD card you purchase to store your music. We tested the T|X with a 2 gig Kingston "Ultimate" 120x card which is good for approximately 500 MP3s and it worked well.

WiFi and Bluetooth

For the price tag, the Palm T|X is a very connected device. It has both WiFi 802.11b wireless networking and Bluetooth 1.1. When you wish to connect to the Net at high speeds via your home or office access point or the local Starbucks, the T|X's WiFi is ready. Connecting to new access points is fairly simple: tap Setup and the T|X will show you a list of access points within range as well as their signal strength and encryption status. Tap on the access point you wish to connect to and enter a WEP password if needed. Should you need to connect to VPN, you'll need to purchase 3rd party software.

Bluetooth uses Palm's familiar user-friendly wizard which walks you through connecting to a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone, Bluetooth access point for LAN access and to your PC for HotSyncing. Of course you can use BT keyboards and GPS units as well. Phone Setup walks you through connecting to your phone so you can use it as a wireless modem for the PDA. Supported brands are Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Siemens and Palm. Once you select your brand, you'll select your phone model from a list and move on to the pairing process. In addition, the T|X comes with a dialer application that allows the PDA to tell your phone to dial a phone number via IR or Bluetooth.

Software

The T|X comes with Palm's enhanced PIM applications for contacts, calendar and tasks management. This includes Palm's Agenda view which shows you the day at a glance and is similar to the Pocket PC Today Screen. In addition, DataViz' Documents To Go 7 Professional is bundled. This excellent Office suite allows you to create, view and edit native MS Word and Excel files (no file conversion needed). You can also view PowerPoint presentations, but not edit them when in native desktop format.

Favorites, a launcher with shortcuts to your favorite applications such as Documents To Go, music, photos and VersaMail is included. It also has room for additional individual applications which you can launch with one tap. The Favorites app has three additional pages where you can add more shortcuts to the files, folders or apps of your choice. Of course, you can use the traditional Palm OS home screen if you wish or your favorite 3rd party launcher. Palm doesn't include a file manager on the PDA, so download a copy of the free Filez to view and manage the contents of memory.

For Internet, you get both the Blazer web browser and VersaMail email client. The Blazer 4.5 web browser has optimized and wide (desktop) page layout modes and supports Javascript, bookmarks, history, cookies, proxies and SSL. Version 4.5 is noticeably faster than prior versions we've used on older Palm models. VersaMail 3.1C, Palm's email application is included. It supports POP, IMAP and SMTP servers, multiple email accounts, automatic email fetching and notification of new mail and filters. You also get WiFile (light not pro version) for accessing computer network shares.

Like all Palm PDAs, the T|X has Graffiti 2 handwriting recognition. You can write in print (not cursive) in the Graffiti area at the bottom of the screen, or bring up an on-screen QWERTY keyboard or number pad when you don't want to use handwriting recognition. If you have some serious writing to do, you can buy Palm's IR or Think Outside's IR or Bluetooth folding keyboards.

The T|X comes with Palm Desktop syncing software for Windows and Mac.

Battery Life

Palm claims 5 days of use, and for the average light to moderate user that's on target. If you surf the web for a few hours or check email several times per day using WiFi, expect to charge every day or every second day. Unfortunately, the T|X, like all Palm products except the Treo smartphone, does not have a user-replaceable battery. This means you won't be able to swap in a spare when on the road away from AC for long periods of time. We asked Palm why they're so allergic to user-replaceable batteries and they stated that the device design would have to be larger to accommodate the battery compartment and related parts, and they prefer to make their devices as compact as possible.

Conclusion

The least expensive PDA with both Bluetooth and WiFi. The large 320 x 480 color display makes both work and play a pleasure, while the roomy 128 megs of flash memory and responsive processor keep up with the demands of both worlds. If you need a user-friendly connected PDA with the power to handle MS Office files, photos, MP3s and videos, the T|X should be on your decision list. Non-volatile memory means your data will survive a complete battery rundown, unlike older Palm and Pocket PCs.

Pro: Dual wireless, large high resolution display. Good battery life for the feature set. Easy to use, handles MS Office documents well thanks to the bundled Documents To Go. 128 megs of internal memory is more than enough to hold thousands of contacts and calendar items along with a good collection of photos, documents and a large collection of 3rd party applications.

Con: Battery isn't user replaceable so you can't swap in a spare on the road. Those who own a Tungsten T5 or perhaps even a Tungsten T3 may find little reason to upgrade.

Price: $299

Web Site: www.palm.com

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

 

Specs:

Display: Transflective TFT color LCD, 64K colors. Resolution: 320 x 480. Supports both portrait and landscape modes.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable. 1250 mA.

Performance: Intel XScale PXA 270 312 MHz processor. 128 megs flash ROM 114.8 megs available.

Size: 4.76 x 3.08 x .61 inches. Weight: 5.25 ounces.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Pocket Tunes included for your MP3 pleasure.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b and Bluetooth.

Software: Palm OS Garnet 5.4.9. Palm Desktop for Windows and Mac included. Palm applications: Calendar, Contacts, Memos, Note Pad (ink notes), Dialer (dials phone for you), Media, World Clock, SMS, Blazer Web browser 4.3, VersaMail 3.1C, Addit, Favorites, Expense, Calculator. 3rd Party: Documents To Go Professional 7.0, Pocket Tunes 3.09, Handmark Solitaire and WiFile.

Expansion: 1 SD (Secure Digital) supporting SDIO. IR port.

 

Back to MobileTechReview.com Home Questions? Comments? Post them in our Discussion Forum!