Review: Palm T|X Handheld - Macenstein

Review: Palm T|X Handheld

Posted by Brain-in-a-Jar

After hearing all the hype about Palm’s T|X Handheld, I was quite excited to actually get my hands on one. The specs looked pretty sweet… 100 mb user accessible built in storage, SD / MultiMediaCard expansion slot, MP3 and video playback on a 320 x 480 color display, and most importantly, Wi-Fi. Having now had the device for a few weeks, and using it daily, I find it delivers everything it promised. Yet, somehow I’m left wanting more.


The device itself, while still a little thick to carry in a pocket, packs in an impressive amount of functionality. Its 312 MHz processor is fast enough for just about everything you’d want to do on a system this size. MP3 and Video playback is smooth, and even the tiny speaker built into the unit can produce a surprising amount of sound in an otherwise quite room. Watching small widescreen videos is a breeze when the unit’s display is switched to landscape mode. The included Documents To Go handles Office files with little trouble, opening attachments to e-mails received on the unit (even if editing them is a little difficult without a keyboard).

Speaking of e-mail, the standout feature of this handheld is probably its 802.11b Wi-Fi connectivity. While the connection is occasionally inexplicably slow, the T|X can communicate with Wireless B and Dual-Mode access points employing WEP, WPA, or WPA 2 as well as plain old unprotected sites. Palm did a nice job of extending this functionality throughout the handheld’s apps; just like on your regular computer, the internet connection is not limited to one specific program, but rather is available to all internet aware apps. Browsing the web with the included browser is painless on the configuration side, but many pages don’t display well or won’t function at all due to a lack of support for the proprietary browser. Perhaps my favorite part of this integration is in the included Addit application. Whereas on non-connected handhelds it allows you to browse software titles and choose them for download and installation at the next HotSync, with the T|X you are presented with the option to download and install immediately if connected to a wireless network. Unfortunately, this on-the-fly installation process is less than perfect, and seems to fail about 1 in 8 times, but it’s still a nice feature.

Running under all of this is version 5.4 of the Palm OS. This means improved Graffiti 2 functionality, a variety of ugly color themes that will have you running back to the default, and the occasional unexplained system freeze. All in all, it’s still the little OS that could, and it’s what we’ve got until Palm really gets a Linux-based Palm OS off the ground.

Computer Connectivity

As with the other Palm handhelds I’ve reviewed, HotSync connectivity, wired or Bluetooth-based, works as advertised on a Mac with the included HotSync and Palm Desktop software, as well as to Apple’s iApps with iSync. No surprise here. As usual, though, I found myself using it with Mark / Space Software’s The Missing Sync 5 (see review) for Palm OS. With the T|X and a handful of other current generation handhelds, this means a long awaited and rather impressive level of integration with Address Book and other apps. Everything from contact pictures to multiple addresses to birthday and IM fields are now transferred flawlessly. For iCal entries, Calendars are translated into Palm Calendar Categories, and events created on the device go where you’d expect in iCal rather than just ending up untagged in your default calendar. All in all, this hardware / software combo has finally made me a happy man when it comes to iApp integration.

Closing Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, despite the attractive package and respectable feature set I couldn’t help but find myself somewhat underwhelmed by the T|X. While the product itself worked virtually flawlessly (although I did find a re-boot necessary more than once), I had trouble figuring out who the intended market for this device is. At $299, it is not geared towards the student user. Serious business users are likely to favor Palm’s Treo line. In this day and age a handheld that connects via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspots just doesn’t feel “connected enough�. Palm, for it’s part, seems to feel the same way, as they seem to be concentrating on their Treo line of smartphones. Even as someone without a smartphone in my day-to-day life, I found myself frustrated trying to find an open hotspot, or by my inability to access Google Maps on the street, where I actually need it.


Palm’s T|X handheld is, overall, a very functional and well-designed product, packing a pretty good punch at a $299 price tag. If you don’t want to pay the service charges associated with a smartphone, you’ll find a lot of the functionally in the T|X, assuming you’re able to constantly pop in and out of Wi-Fi hotspots. Still, this organizer doesn’t feel all that different than the ones Sony was making three or four years ago. I think there’s only so far you can go feature-wise without going the smartphone route.

Palm’s T|X Handheld

Price: $299

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

• Enough power and memory to handle any handheld application
• Near-perfect Mac integration via third-party software

• Even at $299, you’re probably better off spending the extra cash for a Treo if connectivity is a priority

One Response to “Review: Palm T|X Handheld”
  1. Andy C in Japan says:

    Please help.I have a palm t/x in japan,paid for the docomo mzone service and cant log on bec the key is 10 digits but the palm is asking for 26 characters.Please advise soon.Desp in Japan.

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