Thursday, March 30, 2006


No, me not speak with forked tongue. In my previous blog entry I mentioned starting to cut the umbilical cord with the Treo. I didn't mention how. Well, I've started using the Motorola V600 as a cellphone now, leaving the Treo at home. Instead of the Treo I use a Tungsten T3 for handheld computer functions.

The Tungsten T3 is quite an awesome handheld. The Virtual Graffiti area is better than that of the Sony NX60 and the landscape mode really handy. The 400 MHz processor makes response times snappy, and the Treo 600 is slow in comparison.

T3 closed

T3 open (in Portrait Mode)

T3 in Landscape Mode

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


This blog entry was originally entitled: "Treos, T3s and the Dark Side", but it was just taking me too long to finish, and I just wasn't getting to the Dark Side. So I decided to post it in sections, not quite episodes, but smaller chunks.

This week I started to cut the umbilical cord with the Treo. It only has one or two programs that are not on the Tungsten T3, but I had to do it sometime. The biggest move of course will be getting the Tungsten T3 to HotSync with my main Desktop. I have to totally uninstall the Treo Palm Desktop, and then install the T3 Palm Desktop from scratch, and install the programs that need to synchronize with the T3. This is a multi-step process, as I need to have a running Treo Desktop on another machine (or partition) first.

Hold on, why am I moving off of the Treo?...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I sit corrected

In a previous post which mentioned subscription music and "Music To Go", I implied that subscription music and "Music To Go" were one and the same thing.

They are not. The Music Subscription Services offer "To Go" as an option - usually a more expensive one, which means that downloaded music can be transferred to a compatible device. Otherwise the music can only be played on one or more PCs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dell captures aliens!

Oh no, got that wrong, it should read - "Dell buys Alienware" - according to this article from My Way News

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sidetracked but successful

To back-track for a moment, before I started looking at the iPod Mini, I was sidetracked by a non-iPod Flash memory based player - a Sandisk Sansa - on sale at a local store. Cheaper than a 1 GB iPod Shuffle, it has a display, as well as an FM Radio. (No iPod that I know of has an FM Radio - although FM is not really a factor for me, as I am unable to listen to commercial radio because of the commercials). The 1GB Sandisk Sansa had fairly good reviews online, so I got it. It isn't as sleek as the iPod Nano, but it is small and light and has a readable mono display. The controls are quite simple too figure out. Downloading songs didn't require any special software either. The problem is, it didn't take me long to fill up 1GB with songs. This was especially true since the Sansa supports subscription music or "Music To Go", and I started a free trial of one of the subscription services.

What's subscription music or "Music To Go"? Basically, for a monthly fee you can download as much music as your portable device can handle. Then, as long as you keep on paying the monthly fee you can listen to the music. The players use Digital Rights Management (DRM) to disable playing of the songs if you don't synchronize with the music service as a paid up subscriber. The songs also cannot be burned to CD and cannot be played on devices (including computers) which are not "Authorized" by the subscription service. So, of course I filled up the player with songs I liked but don't have on CD, and albums I'm considering buying as well as music from artists I haven't yet heard.
CNET has a whole article about it here.

Okay, so 1 GB wasn't enough, so I begun looking at higher capacity MP3 Players, and that led me to the 4 GB iPod Mini. I made the mistake of buying a refurbished one from eBay. If I'd shopped around more I would have found a refurbished one on for cheaper. Oh well..

Oh, and how is the iPod? I had to read the manual to learn how to use the controls, but once I got them they were intuitively easy. The sound seems better than the Sansa. Best of all I discovered that the accessories for the iPod Mini are deeply discounted since it has been discontinued, so I was able to get an FM transmitter (iTrip) for less than $10. Now I can listen to the iPod in the car or on my home audio system.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Search narrows

One thing that bothered me when I read reviews of the iPod Nano was that because this is a product which was only released in September of last year, there would be no bargain prices for it yet.
What set me thinking was this "quibble" from Consumer Reports:
"A 2-gigabyte (500-song) Nano costs $200, which bought you a 4-GB iPod Mini before it was discontinued. There's a 4-GB Nano for $250, which used to buy you a 6-GB iPod Mini."

It got me thinking whether the iPod Mini was still available. It is!

CNET Review of iPod Mini

Friday, March 10, 2006

MP3 Player Hunt Continued

Back issues of PC Magazine and an odd copy of Handheld Computing magazine helped clear up a misconception I had about the iPod Shuffle: from the name I wondered if it could only play in "shuffle" or random mode. This isn't the case. I looked at the low-priced 512 MB shuffle first, but discovered that it could only hold about 100 to 120 songs, depending on format. The 1 GB Shuffle was sold out wherever it was on special. One thing that put me off was a reviewer who recommended the iPod Shuffle as a second MP3 Player for those who already have a larger hard drive-based player. The Shuffle has no display to tell you what song you're listening to. After much thought, I decided I could not do without this feature so I could at least see what song, or Podcast or whatever was that I was listening to - and be able to find a song. This was especially so since most non-Apple MP3 players in this price range have this display.

Sticking with the iPods, the cheapest model with a display was the iPod Nano. This iPod has excellent reviews, and a price to go with it. For $140 and upwards for the 1GB iPod Nano you are really paying a premium.

So, there is a tiny color (176-by-132-pixel 1.5-inch) screen, on which you can view photos or album art. If I really want to view photos I'd use the 480-by-320-pixel 4.3 inch screen on my Tapwave Zodiac.

Apart from there being MP3 players from other manufacturers with larger capacity and more features, what finally put me off the Nano altogether were reports that the device scratches easily ("Although the device is durable, it scratches easily; blemishes show up more drastically on the black version" - excerpt from review). I didn't want to pay so much to have to baby an MP3 Player.

And yet the coolness factor of the iPod is so strong.

Oh, what to do?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

MP3 Player Hunt

Okay, so I knew very little about the latest MP3 Players, but I wanted to get one (for why see Got an MP3 Player?). I had last looked at MP3 players in early 2003, before deciding to buy the Sony Clie NX60. Of course, things have changed a lot since then.

There seem to be two types of MP3 Players: Flash-based Players and Hard Drive-based Players. According to wikipedia there are three types, but I'm not counting MP3 CD Players.

There are also iPods and Everything else, or Anything But iPod.

My criteria was for a small player, definitely smaller than any of my handhelds or even my Sony Net MD Walkman MZ-NF520D.

Since I had recently seen one on special, I first looked at the iPod Shuffle:

(to be continued...)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mobile Internet Part III

In a previous blog Mobile Internet II I said that the Dell Axim X30 with built-in Wireless "worked like a dream" at a hotel hotspot.
Okay, well that hotspot did not have encryption, and at home I have encrypted wireless. The Dell Axim runs like a dog on my home Wi-Fi (and I don't mean a greyhound!). Possibly I'm not using the correct wireless client - there are several available on the Axim. Anyway, the only site I can get onto is Yahoo.

My Linux-based Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 with a Compact Flash Wi-Fi card has no problems with this encrypted wireless network, and puts the Dell to shame. I was planning to sell the Zaurus, but not any more.

Just for interest, here is a picture of the Treo 600 next to the Sharp Zaurus (the Zaurus is closed, it is even longer with the keyboard opened).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sony didn't invent Virtual Graffiti!

According to wikipedia, the first Palm OS Device with a Virtual Graffiti area was the HandEra 330 released in 2001.

This handheld had some impressive specifications for a Palm-OS based device at that time:

240 x 320 QVGA high resolution screen
Virtual on-screen Graffiti text entry areas
360° rotation of screen image with special applications (Portrait and Landscape modes!)
Ran with AAA alkaline batteries or with optional lithium-ion batteries
One CompactFlash Type I/II card slot and One Secure Digital (SD) or MultiMediaCard slot
Jog wheel and auxiliary button for one hand operation
Internal audio amplifier and speaker
Microphone to record audio files

Full Specs are here at HandEra. gave it a 4 star rating in their review. The Gadgeteer also liked it.

Unfortunately it wasn't too stable...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Got an MP3 Player?

I always thought I already had an MP3 Player. Since the Sony CLIE NX60, just about every handheld I've owned has a stereo headphone jack and can play MP3s. Even the Treo 600 comes with a basic version of the Pocket Tunes music software which has playlists and an equalizer. Since I usually have a handheld with me, its just a case of carrying headphones too and I have an MP3 Player.

The only problem is space. MP3 files take up space on expansion cards (SecureDigital Cards mostly). Since SecureDigital Cards which are 1 Gigabyte and larger are relatively costly (anything from $50 to $120), I mainly have 512 MB SD Cards. Being cautious (some would say paranoid), each handheld has its own memory card, and I keep multiple backups on a card. On my Treo where internal memory is low, I store and run software from the card. On the cards for the Tapwave Zodiac I have video files. All of these compete for space with MP3 files. I have a Sony Minidisc player, but a Minidisc can only hold just over 2 CDs worth of songs. It fits in my shirt pocket but is a bit bulky.

So maybe I need a real MP3 player...