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Palm m505

Richard Price
12 June 2001

Palm m505As handheld computers go, the new Palm m505 sure is a powerful, compact device. Of course Palm is not the only kid on the block anymore so the Palm m505 comes with enough new features to catch the eye of the dotcom executive who still has a job or meeting to attend.

The 16-bit colour screen, which supports more the 65,000 colours, is a neat touch, but with no contrast adjustment, I found it a little difficult to read, especially in daylight. The backlight hardly helped.

The new universal connector that connects to the HotSync cradle supports numerous hardware add-on modules. The HotSync cradle also connects to a USB port which makes setup is a lot easier.

I was even more impressed with the expansion slot on the Palm m505. Simply plug in a Secure Digital (SD) or MultimediaCard postage-stamp-size card and you have instant access to other applications, content, backup, images or video clips.

Palm is not the only company supporting SD cards. A few hundred companies including Panasonic and Toshiba also support these small cards which range in capacity from 8MB to 256MB.

Palm also has a number of expansion cards available that include games, dictionaries, backup features or travel guides.

It's nice to know you can snap in a card and browse through the Lonely Planet guides --- including maps, or rely on GPS navigation.

A snap-on mobile phone module would have been more useful. I am surprised they don't have one. Apparently numbers can be dialed directly when connected to a compatible mobile phone. The manual doesn't give anything away, and I doubt my trusty old Nokia 5110 is up to the task.

The m505 does offer a few other ways of keeping in touch. Palm Mobile Connectivity software allows users to connect to the Internet and manage email and SMS (Short Messaging Service) using a modem or GSM data-enabled phone. Great! Another way to read junk mail. Data can also be beamed to other Palms via the infra-red port.

I know many people who have seen the light, converted from FiloFax to Palm and tap and zap contact details and appointments with a missionary zeal. The programmed alerts on the m505 --- audible alarm, vibration or blinking LED --- should ensure they never miss anything important.

The m505 comes with a number of software applications to make life easier.
With the Palm Reader it is possible to read electronic books on a Palm handheld. There are a number of books available in electronic format. Adobe even has a version of Acrobat that allows PDF files to be viewed on a Palm. I know it is important to save trees, but I wouldn't enjoy reading a book this way. My therapist is helping me work through this.

Other software included with the m505 ensures the busy person has no excuse for missing deadlines. Word documents or spreadsheets can be edited with DataViz Documents To Go. A sophisticated calculator for performing advanced math functions is included. Web applications and content can be accessed with AvantGo. Microsoft Outlook calendar, contacts and tasks can be syncronised with the Palm m505 using Chapura PocketMirror.

Faded photographs of loved ones held in a wallet for years can be scanned, touched up digitally then uploaded to the Palm m505 using MGI PhotoSuite Mobile Edition. In fact, the m505 can be used to view any image or video clip.

I never thought there would be a need for digital images on a Palm. I was wrong. There is a niche market for erotic images on PDAs which adult content providers are exploiting. No doubt the geek on the other side of the office partition has already discovered the pleasure of wireless communication.

Personally, I hope I live to see the PDA that will encourage me to give up my Filofax.

Price AU$1149



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