Upgrading from a Palm Zire 31 to a Palm TX…wow!

I’ve been a long­time palm pilot user…from the days of the Palm Pilot Pro­fes­sion­al, through the Palm III, the Palm V to my pre­vi­ous Zire 31. Of all the sys­tems upgrades, none have impressed me more than this one.…my upgrade to a Palm TX. Wow…what an upgrade too. Sharp­er, high­er res­ol­u­tion screen, faster pro­cessor, WiFi, Bluetooth, lots of things you’d expect to find on a ‘real’ com­puter. I’m writ­ing this art­icle on it, in fact.

For all the power, the unit is still pock­et-sized.

At the time I pur­chased my TX, there was a spe­cial bundle avail­able — the key­board was included. At the time I scoffed at it, being a long-time palm user, I knew Grafitti like the palm of my hand (sorry). But now, after using it for a few weeks, I’m begin­ning to appre­ci­ate it.

You don’t need the key­board for short notes and the like, but if you’re going to a meet­ing, why haul a rel­at­ively huge laptop when you can bring these small little items.

Update: If you are con­sid­er­ing upgrad­ing to the TX, then check out Palm’s TX Upgrade Guide

The key­board is pretty close to a full size key­board, but the keys are a bit sens­it­ive, and some are not ‘quite’ in the places you expect them. I find the back­space key and the caps-lock keys are very easy to strike by acci­dent.

The key­board works through the IrDa port. It’s powered by two AA bat­ter­ies, and requires a driver to be installed on the Palm device. Since it is a smal­ler key­board, I do find my fin­gers will cramp up after 20 minutes or so of con­tinu­ous typ­ing. Fine time for a break.

The screen is very crisp. On some applic­a­tions, you can select fonts that are almost unread­able due to their size, are still crisp and clean. Yes, it is a very nice screen.

Upgrad­ing to the TX from my Zire was reas­on­ably simple. I un-installed the Palm Desktop from my PC, installed the updated Palm Desktop soft­ware that came with the TX, and then rein­stalled my applic­a­tions.

I had used a 256mb SD card on the Zire, so I moved it into the TX. Almost everything worked…there were a few older games that crashed, but noth­ing sig­ni­fic­ant. All my eBooks work fine, though I have installed new­er ver­sions of my read­ers (Pluck­er, X, Y, Z).

Read­ing eBooks on the high­er res­ol­u­tion screen requires a bit of fore­thought. Land­scape and Por­trait modes now are viable options in most read­ers. Some expand to fill the screen, oth­ers stay at the ‘stand­ard’ Palm screen width, regard­less of the page ori­ent­a­tion.

Also, with the abil­ity to use high­er res­ol­u­tion fonts, you can fit more words on the page, and it is pos­sible to have text that is so small it’s almost unread­able. Anoth­er minor adjust­ment I had to make.

Ok, so that got me to where I was before with the Zire. Now for the new toys.

WiFi opens up a whole new realm of use for my Pilot. Now, I can browse web pages using the Blazer built-in browser. Opera also has a browser that will work with the TX and I’ve just star­ted play­ing with it.

Email is also more eas­ily avail­able. I nev­er did use the Out­look con­duit to sync my email…the cable hot­sync to email cli­ent to email serv­er pro­cess just seemed too cum­ber­some.

Now, I simply press the Get but­ton on Versa Mail and as long as I’m with­in range of an open WiFi node (or my home WiFi net­work) I get my Gmail. Poof done.

I’ve not used the Bluetooth func­tion­al­ity yet, but am temp­ted to pick up a small bluetooth enabled GPSr for GeoCach­ing. Oth­er ‘cach­ers have used it with great suc­cess.

Bat­tery life seems reas­on­able, though the Zire was awe­some. I think I’ll write it off to the extra power needed to power WiFi. There are third-party power man­agers avail­able, and I may look at one or two in the future.

For times when your bat­tery does run low, the TX can oper­ate and be trickle charged through the Hot­Sync cable.

Unlike the Zire, the TX doesn’t have a stand­ard USB mini inter­face sock­et on the unit for Hot­Syncing. Palm has gone back their pro­pri­et­ary cable sys­tem, which means one more cable to pack and haul around — unlike the Zire which used the stand­ard USB mini. Maybe there’s a reas­on the went to it, but I much pre­ferred the stand­ard USB solu­tion I had with the Zire.

One new and inter­est­ing applic­a­tion is Inter­net Radio. Using the Mundu Radio cli­ent, I was eas­ily able to stream tunes to my trusty TX. Cur­rently the cli­ent is lim­ited to 24kbps, but that’s reas­on­able and leaves more band­width for you to surf while groov­in’ to the tunes.

Well, that’s enough for one post…whew! Next up — the Pro­porta Alu-Leath­er case for Palm Tung­sten T5 and TX. I’ll be writ­ing about my exper­i­ences with it in a week or two, but the very early opin­ion is ‘very nice case!’.

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29 Replies to “Upgrading from a Palm Zire 31 to a Palm TX…wow!”

  1. Hi, Brad.

    Thanks for the writeup — this is very timely for me, because I’m look­ing for some­thing like this.

    Actu­ally, I’m look­ing for some­thing a little big­ger than a PDA, but smal­ler than a laptop. Some­thing that’s light, but with a big enough screen to be use­ful. The Nokia 770 would fit the bill (800×480 screen; looks like a fat PDA), but it’s not sold in Canada. Sigh…

    Now to go check out that Palm…

  2. A few ques­tions:

    1) How’s the WiFi range? Can you con­nect thoughout the house?

    2) Is the new Graf­fitti as awful as people say it is?

    3) How well does it work with GC.com? I assume you’d need the WAP ver­sion of their site … or am I wrong? Wiki­pe­dia?

    Thanks again,

  3. WiFi range is good. Can use it any­where inside the house, or even out­side in the gar­age.

    Graf­fitti is OK. I’m used to the old Graf­fitti and haven’t had to unlearn any­thing. The key­board is nice for longer writ­ing ses­sions.

    I’ve not used it with GC.com. There are mobile ver­sions of many ser­vices, even gmail, and more sites are becom­ing mobile enabled every day. blog.bradgrier.net is, as is CanuckTek.com. The new GCE main page will be.

    RSS feeds are avail­able either through the browser (bloglines.com mobile ver­sion) or through rss cli­ents that use WiFi.

    (Gosh, this is extra stuff that I should have included in the art­icle!)


  4. Hmm, I may have to swing by Lon­don Drugs on the way home!

    I really want replace the old Sony PDA that I carry around in my front pock­et, before its bat­tery blows my nuts off. 😯

  5. Great art­icle! It’s quite a jump from a Zire 31 to a TX espe­cially with respect to the screen res­ol­u­tion, the Wi-Fi, NVFS, huge amount of RAM and lots of oth­er things.

    Look­ing for­ward to more Palm post­ings. I’ve got you in my read­er.

  6. I just received my unit, and it’s sweeet. I espe­cially like the Wi-Fi; last night I was stir-fry­ing din­ner with one hand and read­ing BBC News with the oth­er. Next pro­ject: war-walk­ing the neigh­bor­hood.


  7. Well, my Palm TX is a dud — it has to go back. Turns itself on spon­tan­eously, or if you touch it, or wiggle it, or put it in your front jeans pock­et, etc. It isn’t the software’s fault; it still does this after a hard reset.

    The slight­est jostle turns it on, if it doesn’t do so spon­tan­eously. It drained itself last night because it kept light­ing up the room.

    Yech. I really wanted to like this thing.

  8. 😯 Oh Noes! Sounds like you got a bad unit. Tess and I are both happy with ours (knocks on wood). Exchange it and update us.

    FYI: My boss had a string of very bad luck with his palms; Treo died one day, bought a Z22. It died 1 month later, exchanged for anoth­er, which also died after a month. He cleared all his palm soft­ware off his PC, got a new cable, and is now happy with his new TX.

  9. Years ago I returned a defect­ive Sony PDA to the store where I bought it. As the sales­man car­ried my pile of stuff back to the returns desk for me, he dropped the PDA onto the hard floor, where it skid­ded a good 20 feet past some startled shop­pers.

    For for the bene­fit of the poor guy, I said in a loud voice to all listen­ing, “It was broken before it hit the floor!”. :mrgreen:

  10. The old Sony? Yeah, and the replacement’s been good for years.

    The auto-turn­ing-on TX? I’ve got an RMA, and I’ll send it in tomor­row. They prom­ised me a refur­bished unit in exchange. Yay.

    Why can’t they charge me an extra $20 and pro­duce a unit that works the first time?

  11. Oh, I saved $50 by buy­ing it online (ca.buy.com), but there’s no return­ing opened product at those prices. So I gave up half of that sav­ings in ship­ping costs to send it back.

    I’d love the unit if I can get one that works!

    (I’ll bet that url keeps this from sur­viv­ing your spam fil­ter…)

  12. 🙂 Thanks for the art­icle and com­ments. I have been a faith­ful user of my Zire 31 for a while now and just ordered my new TX online today. I can’t wait to start using it. I’ll let you know how it works out (hope­fully bet­ter than Viajero).

  13. Hi Trish, please do let me know! I’m hanging on to my 31 as a backup/spare and GeoCach­ing PDA…no sense tak­ing the expens­ive unit into the bush and weath­er if you have an expend­able one 😉

  14. Okay, the replace­ment unit is great; I love it! I’d give this one 5 stars, the ori­gin­al (broken) one 0 stars, for an aver­age of 2.5 stars. Sorry Palm, but you really should build them bet­ter…

  15. Heh…yeah, funny how a bad exper­i­ence can dilute impact of any sub­sequent pos­it­ive exper­i­ences. Enjoy your TX. Play with Google Maps and all the oth­er cool tools on it 😉

  16. Cool! I use the Google on my TX, but have not tried the mobi Wiki­pe­dia.

    CBC News is also avail­able: http://www.cbc.ca/mobile

    …as is the Main site of GeoCachingEdmonton.com (not the for­ums (yet). The site should real­ize you’re using a mobile browser and give you prop­erly format­ted con­tent.

  17. Okay, now I’m really pissed off. The second unit (I’d sent the first in for replace­ment) is dead, after only a month. As in, door­nail-dead. Not even a hard- or fact­ory reset wakes it up now.

    What a use­less piece of junk!

  18. Pretty much. Pulled it out of my pock­et yes­ter­day after­noon, and it was Dead Jim. It was fine in the morn­ing.

    Now I’m wait­ing for tech sup­port to email me the address etc. for returns. (I *know* the address from last time, but need a new RMA, I guess). He said it’ll take 24–48 hours for the email. The cyn­ic in me says the 24–48 hours is an inten­tion­al delay, to encour­age me to try a few more times to wake up the unit on my own…

    Aaar­gh! Who makes reli­able PDAs?
    — Palm is out.
    — My buddy is on his *sixth* Dell Axim, after many returns.
    — Anoth­er buddy had a really bad (ie, drive-format­ting) exper­i­ence with HP ser­vice.

    Who’s left?

  19. You know, I’d write Palm’s cus­tom­er ser­vice depart­ment and explain the situ­ation to them…even though you’re in the res­ol­u­tion pro­cess, they may be able to do some­thing for you bey­ond what the ser­vice rep can.

    We must be lucky. I’ve been haul­ing mine around since day one. Cold, warm. Just fin­ished tak­ing a bunch of notes on it with the IR key­board in a Pro­ject Man­age­ment ses­sion; not a prob­lem yet (knock on wood) bey­ond the occa­sion­al ran­dom reboot. Nev­er lost data yet (and have been back­ing up just in case 😉

  20. Oh yeah, the key­board. It seems I always have to stab my TX in the back (do a soft reset) before it’ll recog­nize the key­board. (When the %$# thing isn’t dead as a door­nail, that is!) I’ve heard com­plaints about the key­board driver.

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