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Comments on: Palm PDA Cradle Reviews

twrock brings us three third-party cradle reviews compatible with the Palm TX (and some other Palm PDA models that use the new athena style connector). The three cradles reviewed in detail are the Brando WorkShop Tungsten T5 USB Cradle, the Alpinetop Palm TX USB Sync and Charge Cradle / Dock, and the Brando WorkShop Palm Music Dock. Read on for the full reviews.
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Suitability for use with Treos

bcombee @ 4/17/2006 1:50:30 PM # Q
Can you see if any of these would work well with a Treo 650? In particular, using the Brando Sounddock with one would be really nice, but I'm worried that the thicker back of the Treo might prevent it from fitting.

RE: Suitability for use with Treos
Ryan @ 4/17/2006 1:52:10 PM # Q
the design of the Brando music dock blocks the Treo 650 from connecting.

You'd have to do some drilling just to get it to slide into the connector area.

RE: Suitability for use with Treos
npbeers @ 6/2/2006 9:01:01 AM # Q
Brando offers a different sound dock specifically for the treos.....

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Cradles

VampireLestat @ 4/18/2006 4:31:32 AM # Q
Very good and interesting review. This is the kind of stuff I love on PIC. Not Treo 700 W sales updates...

RE: Cradles
VampireLestat @ 4/18/2006 4:37:11 AM # Q
Would like to see BlueTooth headphone review. Im thinking of buying a pair so I can run around a listen to MP3s playing on my TX.

RE: Cradles
hkklife @ 4/18/2006 10:16:13 AM # Q
Vampire;

You're in luck as Ryan, myself and others have plenty of reviews in the works in the near future.

I doubt you'll see any BT headphones reviewed as Palms do not support A2DP profiles naitvely so you'd either have to go with a headphone jack to BT adapter kludge or use the still-flaky Softick Audio Gateway program.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

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Another interesting application of audio out

AdamaDBrown @ 4/18/2006 4:58:49 AM # Q
I was looking over the Music Dock, and a thought came to me. A truly compelling bit of tech would be to make a car cradle that hooked into the connector's audio output pins, and either ran an audio line through the mount's base so that you could wire it to the stereo, or simply bypassed the wiring altogether and built in an FM transmitter. Then you'd have a drop-and-go solution for your digital music, no wire hookups needed.

A future extension would be to also have video out to a display in the vehicle, for use with GPS, while the main display stayed on the audio app... but that's some way down the road, no pun intended.

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
SeldomVisitor @ 4/18/2006 8:14:10 AM # Q
I have not looked into car electronics for a very long time - are run-of-the-mill car stereo systems' I/O connectors generally available now-a-days?

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
cervezas @ 4/18/2006 9:56:51 AM # Q
A truly compelling bit of tech would be to make a car cradle that hooked into the connector's audio output pins, and either ran an audio line through the mount's base so that you could wire it to the stereo, or simply bypassed the wiring altogether and built in an FM transmitter. Then you'd have a drop-and-go solution for your digital music, no wire hookups needed.

The FM transmitter idea is easily doable and works pretty well if the device is *very* close to the car stereo or its antenna (like within a couple of feet). A while back I developed a GPS-controlled audio tour application for a client that sells these tours to cruise lines for use at ports of call. Originally conceived for self-guided walking tours, we used a tiny off-the-shelf FM transmitter that plugged into the headphone jack of the iQue to demo the software for in-car use. The client had worked hard on the audio production so I thought it was a big plus delivering that content in stereo through the car speakers. It'd be brilliant to have this built into the car cradle as you suggest.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
hkklife @ 4/18/2006 10:22:45 AM # Q
I've never had as many troubles from "name brand" electronics as I've had from FM Transmitters.

I am by no means an audiophile but I just was trying to get my MP3 player (a Cowon IAudio X5 20gb) to play tunes through my decent (not great but fairly good for "premium" OEM) car stereo system.

No matter which frequency or brand/style of FM modulator I tried, I can never get anything better than staticky FM for a few miles. Then I have to change frequencies due to the inevitable interference (this is using a Belkin Tunecast II, the best of the mediocre lot so far).

It's criminal that more new cars don't have a 1/8" input jack on their faceplates or somewhere on the console. Even worse are companies charging extra for this tiny bit of kit (MINI, anyone?). It's easier for me to just keep a bin o' CD-Rs in the car than it is to have to deal with the headaches involved with trying to get an MP3 player working via FM.

The problem with all of these factory iPod integration kits is that ANY day now Apple is going to change the connector standard ala Palm and there are going to be lots & lots of unhappy Mercedes/BMW/Lexus etc. owners out there who just bought a new car with it advertising "iPod Integration" with the factory systems/steering wheel button controls.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
Surur @ 4/18/2006 10:45:13 AM # Q
A few years ago I actually paid 300 (about $500) to upgrade my car stereo to a sony with a proper line in. I now use it regularly for podcast and such, and to play licensed music, but I'm not sure the investment will ever pay for itself as such. Fortuanately the market for such stereos have continued to grow, and currently you can get aftermarket stereos not onl with line-in, but also able to play SD cards and even USB thumb drives for much cheaper. The next greatest thing is head units with A2DP built-in. After paying 300 for the last stereo however I don't think I could justify upgrading just for geek cred.

Surur

They said I only argued for the sake of arguing, but after an hour I convinced them they were wrong...

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
cervezas @ 4/18/2006 11:00:12 AM # Q
hkklife wrote:
No matter which frequency or brand/style of FM modulator I tried, I can never get anything better than staticky FM for a few miles. Then I have to change frequencies due to the inevitable interference (this is using a Belkin Tunecast II, the best of the mediocre lot so far).

We had very poor results with another transmitter before we tried the Belkin. As I said, even the Belkin had trouble if the device wasn't located practically on top of the stereo (which was ok since that's a natural place for the car cradle anyway). And I have to say that the audio had more hiss than what you'd get from listening to a normal strength FM broadcast station. So I agree there's definitely room for improvement, especially if you've got a good car stereo, though it was satisfactory for our application (where the alternative was listening to audio over the iQue's small tinny speaker).

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
hkklife @ 4/18/2006 11:24:44 AM # Q
Car audio is one area where I decidedly do NOT spend any $ whatsoever. I spend a lot of time on the road and put a lot of wear & tear on my cars so there's no need to sink big $ into audio systems if I'll be replacing the car every few years. I also happen to like my steering wheel mounted audio controls, factory 6 + 1 CD changer, speed sensitive automatic volume, and secondary LCD displays on the gauge cluster.

I'd lose all of that if I went the aftermarket route. Besides some of the oddball dash configurations nowadays unify (COMAND, iDrive, Infiniti/Acura) so many functions that doing anything aftermarket save maybe an amp/speaker replacement is impossible.

The problem is that automotive electronics (and the car companies in general) move at a glacial pace compared to the electronics industry. It took Mercedes until MY '06 in the USA to offer a single CD standard in the dash in all of its models. That's just PITIFUL! Audi now offers a nav system with dual SD slots for playing MP3 tracks but I hear they are limited to cards 512mb or smaller and can ONLY read MP3 encoded tracks. I'd expect better for a $2k factory system.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
AdamaDBrown @ 4/18/2006 12:34:31 PM # Q
SeldomVisitor wrote:
I have not looked into car electronics for a very long time - are run-of-the-mill car stereo systems' I/O connectors generally available now-a-days?

You can find connectors for a variety of different standard models via Froogle, eBay, and the like. Some models of car stereo, particularly the third-party replacements, have standard connectors on them.

Surur wrote:
The next greatest thing is head units with A2DP built-in.

Yah. Since I have to replace my stereo anyway (CD player doesn't work) I'm considering trying to wire in an A2DP receiver somewhere. There are audio dongles on eBay that do A2DP and headset/handsfree, so with a little modification I might be able to get my car fully wired for Bluetooth.

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
SeldomVisitor @ 4/18/2006 1:29:02 PM # Q
> ...The problem is that automotive electronics (and the car
> companies in general) move at a glacial pace compared to the
> electronics industry...

THE reason to always just say "No!" when a car dealer tries to sell you a CD/DVD/whatever system with your new car/van/SUV.

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
Altema @ 4/19/2006 8:10:31 PM # Q
I've been through a handfull of FM transmitters with mostly bad results except for one. Most battery powered, or that have the battery option have to hold back on the transmission power to conserve battery life. I' had two that worked fairly well, but had a battery life of of a few hours at most. The others did not work unless the unit was on the dashboard where it was a saftey hazard. I finally went with aftermarket stereos which had direct audio inputs on the face in both our vehicles, and BOTH cars were stolen! One was found with only the stero missing and other damage from the theft, the other was found with the stereo missing and the vehicle trashed... but they left the brand new tires alone!

For my current car, I kept the stock Infinity stereo and use the iRiver AFT-100 transmitter. This one does not run on batteries, has a healthy signal, full bandwidth tuning, and powers off automatically. My only complaint is that the blue backlight does no go completely out when the unit powers down automatically. You don't notice it unless it is dark at night and there are no streetlights, but in that situation the faint blue glow may attract prying eyes.

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
hkklife @ 4/19/2006 11:14:58 PM # Q
Altema;

Thanks for the tip. I currently have the Belkin Tunecast II and it's the best of a miserable lot of FM transmitters I've tried...which isn't saying much. I may check out the iRiver one...hopefully it'll be better than their recent MP3 player efforts have been.

I can recommend the nifty Stickypad by Handstands as a way to keep stuff that must be placed on top of the dash (radar detector, phone, FM transmitters) from sliding around. I have three of these pads and the oldest one is three years old and still going strong even after years of exposure to direct sunlight & heat!

http://www.handstands.com/retail/automotive/superstickypad.shtml



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
joad @ 4/23/2006 4:41:09 PM # Q
A few years ago, I bought a Panasonic car stereo mostly because it came with a 1/8" jack right up front (also because I've rarely had problems with Panasonic products, unlike the "stylish" but fragile and overpriced SONY stuff).

Last year I went shopping again, and not ONE car stereo at the several large stores had a stereo input jack. NOT ONE!!! Just ridiculous. I can see bluetooth as a technology in it's infancy, but 1/8" Stereo Input Jacks are as old as the hills, and all those good-selling "FM Transmitters" we hate are a kludgy inefficient workaround to make up for the lack of a simple, cheap, industry-standard jack they could probably include for pennies on all radios. The only reason I can think of to leave them off is for "style" and "one less thing to break."

Settled for a Pioneer Supertuner, which promised the ability to add an Ipod input cable "later." When "later" came, the cables were another $100 or so (on a $200 stereo), so I'll be burning my car music on 10cent MP3 CD's for the next few years...


RE: Another interesting application of audio out
hkklife @ 4/23/2006 11:49:17 PM # Q
When it's all said & done, it's hard to beat a small box in the passenger seat full o' cheap CD-R copies of audio CDs and MP3 music mixes (that is, if you have a decent sounding factory system that doesn't play MP3s like I do).

Given my luck with cars & break-ins, I'd have to have a 20gb+ MP3 player or aftermarket system stolen.

Yeah, I recall a slew of aftermarket decks with 1/8" jacks up front. Now all of those have been abandoned save for the occasional OEM car company "audio port". BTW did I mention I dislike these "iPod integration kits" as the only option? Don't they realize not everyone wants or owns an iPod?



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
pmjoe @ 6/1/2006 1:44:19 PM # Q
>Last year I went shopping again, and not ONE car stereo at the several large
>stores had a stereo input jack. NOT ONE!!! Just ridiculous.

Well, at least a couple of the current low-mid priced (~$150) Sony models have 1/8" input jacks on the front, plus at least one other major brand (though I'm not remembering which at the moment, maybe JVC). I think even one of the current mid-range Sony's has RCA inputs on the back. Higher end than that, they usually have a provision for some external box/adaptor (~$20-$30) that'll give you a stereo pair of RCA jacks. A cable to go from RCA to 1/8" is only a few dollars. You have to be careful though, some brands are "either or" on the external inputs: either you can hook up XM/Sirius or CD changer or iPod or other external input. One (or sometimes 2) of but not all 3 or 4 of the above.

For some (not many, but worth checking into) of the stock auto decks from the auto companies, you can find 3rd party adaptors that'll give you a separate line level input. Typically it's the ones that are built to control an optional CD changer, and if you don't get the changer, you can rig up an external input.

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
pmjoe @ 6/1/2006 2:01:20 PM # Q
>When it's all said & done, it's hard to beat a small box in the passenger
>seat full o' cheap CD-R copies of audio CDs and MP3 music mixes

Well, I just wish someone would sell a cheap DVD auto deck without all the video bells and whistles. I just want to be able to stick 4.7GB of MP3s on a DVD-R and leave it alone. I don't care about being able to watch DVDs or having a stupid video screen that comes out of the deck, I just want the extra storage space and the cost difference between CD and DVD drives certainly isn't the $500-$1000 the car audio companies are currently charging for that kind of hardware.

RE: Another interesting application of audio out
npbeers @ 6/2/2006 9:05:27 AM # Q
Back to the original idea here....

I have actually removed the athena connector module from Palm's own cradle for the T5/TX which includes a 1/8" audio out jack. I then mounted this connector to my brando windshield suction cup car cradle. I have a tape adapter pluged innto my car CD/Tape stereo and then into the 1/8" plug on the athena module. I also have a power source pluged into the athena module and to my car power outlet. This way when I get into the car I can just plug in the one connector as I dock my TX and it will charge and play audio out through my car stereo.

I am considering purchasing the Palm GPS Car Kit.... this includes a nice cozy cradle that has power and audio out and has a gps reciever built in. This way my BT would still be free to use my TX's contacts app to make calls from my cell phone while also using gps navigation....

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Hotsync button=AutoSync

Tamog @ 4/18/2006 10:08:10 AM # Q
Hi,
not trying to self-advertise, but you may feel like using AutoSync as a hotsync button replacement:

In addititon to sync-at-dock, autosync also lets you regulate screen brightness automatically when docking(brighter when docked..bc nobody cared about power, or vice versa); configure IR settings and do much more. Get more info here:

http://www.tamoggemon.com/products/autosync/index.htm

Best regards
Tam Hanna

Find out more about the Palm OS in my blog:
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com

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What about the Palm OEM cradle kit?

hkklife @ 4/18/2006 1:54:06 PM # Q
Ron;

Superb review(s) but I am curious as to how these stack up to the "original" Athena/Multiconnector Palm/PalmOne Cradle Kit cradle. I actually have that one and I'd be glad to do a mini review of it and we can tack it on to this article. Or we can just offer it as a standalone item for those curious to see how all of the cradles currently available stack up.

I've already e-mailed Ryan about it but wanted to get your thoughts/feedback as well.

While the Palm cradle looks nice enough with its internal LED lighting but it's FAR too lightweight. The audio-out jack is a nice touch but I personally never use it and it tends to buzz & suffer from interference.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: What about the Palm OEM cradle kit?
twrock @ 4/21/2006 5:29:04 AM # Q
Sorry this reply is coming so late. I just got back from a week of vacation. I avoid the internet while on vacation (and leave my cell phone off as well).

Thanks for the compliment.

I would really like to see your review of the Palm cradle. I'm very curious as to how they implemented the audio-out. With the Brando Music Dock, it is always "on", so you can only get sound out of the dock's speakers when the TX is plugged in. But I wouldn't think that would be the case with the Palm cradle. Is it?

How much of the poor sound quality do you think is caused by the cradle and how much is just caused by the TX itself? I hear a distinct hiss in both my headphones and out of all of my modified cradles and adapters. I think I seen others complain about the TX sound quality too.

I've modified each of the cradles. In the first pic with all three cradles you can see some of the modifications to the black Brando USB cradle, the hole for the microphone (mounted inside the cradle case) and the hotsync button on either side of the LED. (I forgot to "airbrush" them out in that pic.) I also put in a switched mic-in jack on the side and an audio-out jack in the back with a switch to choose between the TX speaker or the jack. And I added some rubber feet. Of the three cradle, this one became my favorite after the mod's.

The Alpinetop cradle got an additional hotsync button on the front (where it belongs) and an additional yellow LED to indicate it was plugged into a USB power source (in addition to the blue LED indicating the charging adapter).

The Brando Music Dock got the extra foot mentioned above, a mic-in jack, a switched audio-out jack, and an improvement to the hotsync button. I keep it beside my bed for charging at night and for music listening.

It might not be the "mythical color HandEra", but I'm liking my TX anyway.

RE: What about the Palm OEM cradle kit?
hkklife @ 4/21/2006 9:42:29 AM # Q
Ron;

I'll definitely try to get to the Palm OEM cradle kit review this weekend, in addition to my other mountain of obligations.

Well, the Palm/PalmOne OEM cradle doesn't actually have speakers on it per se as you probably know. It just has a 1/8th" audio out jack.

So my configuration on my desk has my Palm cradle sitting next to my Klipsch Proaudio speakers which have a side line input. Informal testing has consisted of the following:

-TX to the Klipsch speakers, playing a 192kbps, 44khz MP3
-TX on the Palm cradle, outputting to the Klipsch speakers
-Same mp3 on my PC & same speakers w/ Windows Media Player 10

Of the three methods, playing the song on the PC was by far the "cleanest" sound. Second best was the TX to the Klipsch speakers' input. Worst quality was going from the cradle to the speakers. There was noticable static in quiet passages and during song transitions, much of which I blame on the cradle's audio hardware and the rest on the TX's "cheap" noisy amp and headphone socket.

I'll post more when I get around to doing the Palm cradle review.

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

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What ever happened to...

Altema @ 4/19/2006 8:24:52 PM # Q
... the video output capability that Palm was boasting about with this connector?

RE: What ever happened to...
hkklife @ 4/21/2006 10:07:02 AM # Q
I never heard anything mentioned about it past the initial reports & reasons why we needed to switch from the UC.

Just PalmOne marketing fluff?
FrankenGarnet limitations prevented it?
Or perhaps part of an "Athena Rev. B" spec that has yet to materialize?

Maybe we'll see a WinMob LifeDrive with video out sometime in the next year!?!



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

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Palm TX and Palmone hard case

bigdog16_83@yahoo.com @ 1/2/2008 4:23:15 PM # Q
Does the Brando Music dock still work while the palm TX is in a palmone hard aluminum case? I'm looking for a music dock for my palm TX that still works with my palm in a protectice case.

RE: Palm TX and Palmone hard case
twrock @ 1/2/2008 11:26:45 PM # Q
Highly unlikely. I don't own the Palm hard case, but I can't plug in to the Brando music dock without removing the TX from the Brando hard case. I assume the Palm hard case is "similar" in design.
Have a look at this old review and see what you think:
http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/8532/palm-pda-cradle-reviews/


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)
RE: Palm TX and Palmone hard case
twrock @ 1/2/2008 11:41:08 PM # Q
(Oops, I didn't even look up to see where this question was posted. Silly me! Ignore that link.)


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)
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