Posted on 3-Oct-2003 18:32 by James Shiell.
Filed under: Reviews
It's pissing down but I don't care, as my brand spanking new T3 arrived today. And just in time, as Renaissance (NZ distributor) are down to the last of the 24 they made available on the 2nd October. The unlucky will be waiting until the 14th to sample.
After flogging my TT to a passing co-worker (seriously), I ripped open the box and had a play. It's slightly larger than the TT and doesn't have the same compact impression that the TT always gave. Despite the impression it feels a lot lighter, and is marginally thinner than the TT, while gaining 8-10mm in length. Extended it's about as long as an iPaq, but not so bulky. The plastic cover is gone (I am probably the only Palm owner to have liked the plastic cover) and is replaced with a suede leather fold over cover. It looks nice, although there's no attachment for the bottom on the front of the device, and thus it currently sits about 10mm from the screen at the bottom. The new button layout has received a thorough slapping in many reviews, however it's quite nice when you're using the device one handedly. It's not so good for playing games, but it's far from unusable. The power button is now harder to push while the voice record button is bigger and easier to find. And they've tidied up the SD slot and added a door (finally!). The stylus is the same as the TT and TT2, and remains just as fantastic (and fun to click all day while coding).
I sat tapping my fingers while it charged, and as soon as I thought I could get away with it I turned it on and ran through setup. Palm have finally tidied up setup, with nice red targets in the screen calibration and a nice looking handheld model instead of the old Palm III they used to show.
The first thing you notice is the ever present status bar at the bottom of the screen, giving you access to home, recent apps, menu, bluetooth and a variety of handy utilities, such as the ability to change to landscape mode. It immediately means I can delete SlideFree, McPhling and Graffiti Anywhere. The only downside is the psychodelic look it takes on when you're running an app which changes the screen palette. The soft graffiti area is gorgeous - and the device switches automatically when opening/closing the slider - I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with all that space (320x480 + the status bar).
Luckily, I've a few weeks to decide, as there's little other than the bundled apps which support the new PalmSource soft graffiti API. PalmOne have also updated the PIM apps (about time), getting rid of the ancient 4Kb memo limit and added some general niceites to the apps. I won't comment beyond that as I'm still playing. They've also been extended to support the larger screen area, with the calendar displaying the next and previous month for instance, and a today screen added to the calendar. This is handy as Today, the PocketPC Today screen ripoff for the Palm, dies horribly on my T3. Luckily it's the only thing I've found so far that does.
Speaking of Graffiti, it's running PalmOS 5.2.1 which means it's using Graffiti 2. If there's been one thing die hard Palm fans have ranted about recently, it's been Graffiti 2. For those not in the know, G2 is essentially Jot, which in turn is essentially lower case latin characters. Testing on my better half and on my techophobic mother (who loves her TT) demonstrates that normal people love it, and while it's a pain for those who have used the original Graffiti for any length of time, you get used to it fairly quickly.
As for hardware - with an 400Mhz XScale, 52Mb of storage and 10Mb of available heap, the thing flies. The comment has been made that PalmOS 5 is just wasting such a powerful device, and to a point it's true. I sincerely hope PalmOne will be releasing an upgrade to PalmOS 6 when it's available, as currently a lot of speed is wasted emulating a 68k for most apps. On the downside of the hardware, the battery is not improved over the T and T2. Not a problem for me, as I charge nightly, but the road warrior will need an extra charger or power sled.
To sum up - this device is fantastic, and I'm looking forward to getting some more apps supporting the extra screen real estate .