Monday, October 31, 2005

The death of Palm OS?

I've had a succession Palm PDAs over the last five years, and I've become more and more dissatisfied with the hardware and, perhaps more importantly, the user interface as it lagged behind the expectations raised by Nokia's Series 60 smart phones, and Apple's Powerbooks and Mac OS X operating system.

I'm not even going to go into the horrible development environment and the ghastly mess that writing code for a Palm OS device turns out to be, even compared to writing J2ME for Series 60 device, let alone the simplicity and rapid development offered by the Python for Series 60 port from Nokia.

So with the last of my data copied off my ageing Treo and wrapped safely inside Apple goodness I discovered I was carrying the PDA less and less. The canonical version of my "life", my calendar, address book, and the other meta-data you accumulate was all on my laptop.

This was fine to a point, but even the 12" Powerbook is a bit bulky to carry around everywhere, and you don't really want to pull it out of your rucksack when you're down the pub. There was something missing, I really did need a PDA it seemed. The latest release from Palm, the Lifedrive, wasn't really what I was looking for, and some of the same user interface hassles that were depressing me about my Treo seemed to be still hanging around.

So I've been following the forthcoming release of the HTC Universal with interest. It's a quad-band, 3G phone, with WiFi and Bluetooth support along with a proper VGA screen and a QWERTY keyboard. In other words it has everything...

CREDIT: Engadget
The HTC Universal

The only problem? The fact that it runs Windows Mobile...

However today my Orange contract was up for renewal so I took the plunge and ordered their new SPV M5000 which is their re-branded version [1, 2, 3] of the HTC Universal. It's back ordered, and late, but I'll still be one of the first to get my hands on the new phone. Look out for a review in a couple of weeks, once I've had my hands on it for a while, to see if I get on with Windows, or if I decide to drop the entire device directly into the bin...

The cost? Because of the crazy way that the UK mobile industry subsidises their handsets to new (and existing) customers, I picked up this bleeding edge £400 (US$700) device for free. Which is a lot less that I would have had to have ponied up to get myself a Lifedrive.

Why didn't Apple come out with a replacement for the Newton so I could have just bought that instead? I would have actually paid money for that...

Update: My first impressions...


  1. Anonymous9:04 am

    Hiya, any ideas on telling me how you picked up this device for free. I'm a heavy blackberry user but when I went to O2 for an upgrade, the only free handsets they offered me were plasticy 3g rubbish they were trying to shift off the shelves.


  2. If they don't offer you a good deal ask for a PAC, if they think you're serious you'll probably be put through to the Retentions Department. These guys are the only people in the company authorised to give you anything other than the standard upgrade deal.

    At this stage it all comes down to how much you're worth to them, if you're a heavy user and they want to retain your business then you'll be offered a decent deal to stay; a better handset, or a more attractive calling plan. For instance last year I got a couple of fairly nice Series 60 handsets on my two Orange contracts and was moved onto a much more attractive tariff which they don't actually offer to walk up customers.

    Of course if you're not a heavy user, or even if you are heavy user, but you don't make much money for them (for instance you're on an Offpeak 1000 tariff) then you'll probably be given your PAC and shown the door.

    When it comes down to it, you have to be prepared to move networks, and they have to know it...

  3. Anonymous11:18 am

    Cheers Al. I think my problem started when they told me my contract had been cancelled and phone disconnected 18 months ago, even though I was using the phone to talk to them. Competence doesnt come as guaranteed does it.

  4. The thing you need to remember is that the normal call centre people get commission based on the phone and tariff you walk away with, the retentions people get commission based on how many people they stop leaving the network. That means they're a lot more willing to give you a good deal, because their bonus doesn't depend on the package they give you.

  5. Anonymous6:04 pm

    Glad to see you've reversed your opinion on selling out to Microsoft. :-)

  6. As I said, if Apple had come out with a modern replacement for the Newton instead of a video iPod I would probably have paid up and bought that instead. But choosing between an expensive Palm Lifedrive or a free PDA that has more features, even if it does run Windows Mobile? No contest!

    Hey, at least I didn't actually buy a copy of Windows XP at retail, unlike some people I could name...