Palm IIIc - How to Get One Cheap (and why)
Extremely satisfying display. COmpatible with your Windows or Mac desktop machine. Rechargeable batteries. 8mb (lots) of memory. Runs countless downloadable applications.
Not wireless connected. No case included.
You can get this excellent device for $170 less than you may have previously thought. And with that kind of discount, it is well worth the price.
DELIVERING THE GOODS
I've owned and used a variety of the Palm OS products and other handheld technologies. I'm a developer on a project that does research into educational uses for technology, including handhelds. When I first got my hands on the Palm Professional the potential was obvious.
However, anyone who is going to use a handheld device as more than simply an organizer needs a few things:
1) An easy to read, high contrast screen for extended use.
2) A decent chunk of memory for holding plenty of information.
3) A solution to the possibility that it will eat through your battery budget.
Basically, a device like this has to be more than just an organizer, if you're going to pay $120 or more.
THE EYES HAVE IT
Recognizing these handhelds as little computers, to make the most out of them, they need to be easy on the eyes. Previous PalmOS offerings weren't terrible in their displays, but staring at black on green does tend to get a bit tiring after a couple of minutes. Ideally, you ought to be able to spend hours reading books, web sites, and whatever else and not come away seeing purple after-images.
The Palm IIIc does this by replacing the familiar pea-green screen with a high-contrast TFT display. You may be thinking (as I did at first) that the color screen is simply a novelty, or a luxury. When an acquaintance of mine bought both a Palm IIIc and a Palm IIIxe, and I was able to compare them side by side, and it quickly became apparent that there was a quantum difference between the two.
You'll have to see the screen in person to judge for yourself, but to get an idea of the difference, imagine reading an article about stock market trouble in the newspaper in a dim room vs. reading about your favorite gourmet food in a glossy magazine. Okay, perhaps that is an exaggeration. Not your favorite food.
To determine how important the display is to you, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to look at daily web site content?
- Do you want to carry around pictures of your kids?
- Do you want to look at maps?
- Do you want to read books?
If your answer is "yes" to some of those questions, the color display is an imperative.
LIKE AN ELEPHANT
As for memory, the Palm IIIc has 8mb. That's plenty to load up on a few favorite web sites, a couple of decent books, pictures of your kids and pets, and a bunch of shareware applications.
You're no doubt aware that the Palm OS has oodles of software out there for download. And shareware is usually quite reasonably priced.
With 8mb of memory, you will find some kinds of freeware to be indispensable. My favorite example is AvantGo, the web content client application. With it, you can download directions to and from family outings (www.mapblast.com), weather for your locality (www.weatherchannel.com), news stories, movie show times (yahoo.com)... Heck, for our caroling party this year, we've made a Palm-compatible web site with all the lyrics to our favorite carols.
POWER IT UP
If you'll be using your handheld frequently and for long periods of time, you'll find that your batteries don't last as long as the manuals say they will. In my older Palm, I tried to combat frequent battery purchases by using rechargeable NiCads. They didn't last long at all.
The Palm IIIc has an internal lithium battery which recharges whenever the device is in its cradle. So far I have never even come close to draining the thing.
NOTE FOR MAC USERS
Unfortunately for MacOS users, the Palm IIIc does not come with all the necessary equipment to hook it to your computer. They want to stick you for another $39 for the USB adapter. It's half that for the serial adapter. The new color version of the competing Handspring Visor comes "Mac-compatible" but costs at least $39 more at this time.
The good news is if you already own a Palm device, you can use the adapters you already have and download the new software off the Palm web site.
When I first came to Epinions, I decided to set a goal for myself for fun and profit. That goal was to earn a Palm IIIc. Circumstances intervened (as they often do) when my funny bone and drive for writing fled. But a few months later the tables turned, bringing the device within my reach.
First, Palm dropped the price of the unit by $70, putting it around $330 at many online stores. Then, Amazon began offering the Palm IIIc with a $50 promotional certificate. Finally, I stumbled upon a $50 coupon (use coupon code AMZN-ELECTRNC which expires the last day of 2000). With free shipping at Amazon for orders over $100 (which may be over by now) that's a really good deal.
I suppose I have glossed over the "input" aspect of the Palm IIIc while I was preoccupied praising the display. As an experiment, I decided to write this review entirely on the Palm IIIc.
Well, it was somewhat easier than I expected, but not a walk in the park, especially for this many words. The Palm IIIc screen has a text input area at the bottom of the screen. You enter text by drawing characters in a little square. To draw the characters, you use "graffiti", the PalmOS set of recognized characters. It's easy to learn, but can be tiring to use for long periods of time. There are keyboards that are easy to use, but that will have to re a future review. Besides, I have a serious case of graffiti writer's cramp.
My advice to you: take advantage of the best Palm IIIc deal you can find this holiday season. If your gift-recipient doesn't like the Palm IIIc, it makes a decent coaster.