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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