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Comments on: The Bad Touch(stone)

Palm Touchstone ReviewPalm's Touchstone is undoubtedly one of the coolest accessories to hit the smartphone market in a long time. It looks great, serves as an excellent replacement for the old-school sync cradle and is a genuinely unique idea (so long as you don't count electric toothbrushes...). All of that said, it's no good at all if you wind up with a faulty unit, as some unfortunate online commenters seem to have discovered... including your correspondent.

Yes, I now have the dubious honour of being one of the lucky handful to suffer from the "DingDong" bug (as it's affectionately known). It seems that with some Touchstones, the magnetic coil which charges the Pre is not properly aligned, due to shoddy manufacturing. I say "shoddy" because as an investigator at Nexave.de has uncovered (German translation), the inner coils (one for charging, one for communicating with the phone) are held in place with nothing but glue - a recipe for manufacturing errors.

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day one....

alanh @ 11/9/2009 6:41:50 AM # Q
This has been a problem since day one. At the sprint store where I bought my Pre, one of the touchstone/Pres was exhibiting this issue. Not good advertising..... It didn't disuade me though. I own two touchstones and neither of mine are faulty.
-alan
RE: day one....
CFreymarc @ 11/9/2009 10:24:09 AM # Q
This does not surprise me. They are playing the customer satisfaction / margin game here. Could they build everyone without this defect? Yes. Why? They got a cheaper bid to build without mounting brackets.
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intermittent charging problems

Gekko @ 11/9/2009 2:16:36 PM # Q

i had intermittent charging problems too - with and without the touchstone. Pre build quality is poor - you can tell by sight, touch, and feel. Pre Accessory build quality is poor too. don't get me started on the car charger (which failed to charge too). they obviously cut corners in order to get this thing to market fast and cheap - and on a shoestring budget.

i don't mind paying a premium price for a quality product. but i will not pay a premium price for shiitty product.

the big sin here is that Palm was premeditated in their desire to build a product on the cheap. contrast that will Apple and Steve Jobs who strive to make the quality of their products the best that they can be.


"I remember when Steve was my neighbor in Woodside, Calif., and he had no furniture. It struck me that there wasn't furniture good enough for Steve in the world. He'd rather have nothing if he couldn't have perfection. And I jokingly said, "The difference between me and Steve is that I'm willing to live with the best the world can provide. With Steve that's not always good enough." And if you look at how he tackles building a phone, or building a laptop, he really is in pursuit of this technical and aesthetic perfection. And he just won't compromise." - Larry Ellison

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/9/2009 3:02:10 PM # Q
My only problem is with the Touchstone. Charging via direct AC and from the USB ports on my PC or Eee works fine. And the stone itself works fine until it gets to 100%, and then it starts going nuts.

I was really surprised by how many posts I found on the subject (those four links in the article are only the tip of the iceberg). The issue had totally flown under my radar prior. A couple of people I spoke to on IRC also had problems unless their Pre was aligned *exactly* right.

As for the Pre itself, my two major concerns are the USB door - it's *awful* - and the power button, which is loose 'n wiggly and doesn't feel half as solid as the Centro (although my Centro's has a hairline crack in it). The Pixi actually looks much better in those respects - the USB door is under a little magnetic flap rather than some stupid plastic dongle.

I'm cool with the rest - the headphone jack problem I had seems to have been a one-off and my slider is rock-solid. The mute switch bugs me - needs to be bigger - but the build is fine.

(As for the iPhone being "best"? Rubbish. Everyone I know who owns one (and that's a scary number of people now - four friends have picked one up in the last few months and more are planning to) has complaints - most with either the headphone jack, the mute switch or the battery which they can't replace. One has a cracked screen after only a few weeks. Pure RDF.)

RE: intermittent charging problems
Gekko @ 11/9/2009 3:08:08 PM # Q

how about the cheap fisher-price plastic?

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/9/2009 4:37:12 PM # Q
Feels fine to me... no worse than the Centro, anyways.
RE: intermittent charging problems
abosco @ 11/9/2009 4:38:19 PM # M Q
Oh Christ, Tim. Of all the legitimate complaints about the iPhone, you choose build quality? Sheesh. Anybody who has spent 10 seconds with one in their hands will attest against that.

Has anyone modified their Touchstone yet? Maybe further adhering the coil to the case? I find it strange that the problem only presents itself at 100% charge. Shouldn't it occur at random intervals if it's a hardware issue?

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/9/2009 4:46:33 PM # Q
I dunno. Some people report it goes on and off constantly, others say at 100%. Mine does it at 100% and gets real hot.

As for the iPhone - seriously, I'm not having a go at it. Everyone I know who's picked one up recently has some kind of complaint. May feel more solid in your hand, but that's perception. Reality is it breaks just like anything else does. Maybe it's different amongst your own circle...

Should also mention that the Pre is way more impressive as a show-off toy than my PalmOS phones ever were. Gesture area makes people go nuts, especially the swiping from app to app.

RE: intermittent charging problems
Gekko @ 11/9/2009 4:59:17 PM # Q

journalistic integrity?

RE: intermittent charging problems
gmayhak @ 11/9/2009 5:42:59 PM # Q
Tim, you're making it really hard to believe anything you write with your obvious hatred of Apple. Millions of iPhone users are a much better sampling than your 4 friends. I've used an iPod Touch daily for over a year without a problem and because of the build quality it still appears brand new! I don't use screen protectors and the glass screen is still perfect!
My Lifedrive also looks and functions like new but I haven't used it that much.
My Centro, like yours, developed a crack near the power switch. I like the Centro but on the other hand Palm took shortcuts and what pisses me off is that they know the plastic piece is defective but I haven't heard of the recall to correct the problem?
As far as swiping from app to app on the Pre, a swipe and a touch on the iPhone gives you any one of 16 apps ;-)

Gary
Tech Center Labs

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/9/2009 6:22:15 PM # Q
^^ Sigh. Bust out the return figures / repair rates and prove me wrong. Otherwise, I'm sticking with the anecdotal evidence I have available to me - which is that the iPhone and other Apple products (esp. iPods) are as mortal as any other piece of consumer electronics.

(Which is not to criticise with "obvious hatred", unless you're one of those people who think Apple are totally beyond reproach. Then you might find yourself becoming overly defensive on the Internet at the slightest provocation...)

RE: intermittent charging problems
alanh @ 11/9/2009 7:26:28 PM # Q
Anecdotally, the iphone's glass screen seems to be tougher than the Pre's. The two iPhones that lived in our house (one was lost) were pretty tough. My Pre seems to be holding up pretty well overall, but I am concerned about surface cracks on the screen. my slider has been pretty solid. I've only seen one other Pre "in the wild" and that owner said it was his forth one (this was back in august or so). The other ones developed a deep crack across the digitizer and screen.

The USB door feels cheap, but so far it's held up for me. With a couple of working Touchstones, that is mostly a non-issue for me as I only need to mess with it to sync music/podcasts.
-alan

RE: intermittent charging problems
alanh @ 11/9/2009 7:27:29 PM # Q
Oh, my wife's 3G iphone has developed the cracks in the rear corner plastic, but other than that it's been solid.
-alan
RE: intermittent charging problems
gmayhak @ 11/9/2009 8:19:44 PM # Q
Tim, I don't give a shit who the manufacturer is. I look at what quality and performance you get for your money and Palm is loosing ground fast. It takes idiots to abandon an OS that has the world by the ass and only needs upgrades and instead go for for some bullshit cloud web os crap! And on top of that start peddling cheap plastic toy phones. Are they kicking anyone's ass? No. Have they lost everything that made a Palm a household name? Yes. Kris went out and bought a Droid, does that tell you something?

Gary
Tech Center Labs

RE: intermittent charging problems
abosco @ 11/9/2009 8:40:03 PM # M Q
As for the iPhone - seriously, I'm not having a go at it. Everyone I know who's picked one up recently has some kind of complaint. May feel more solid in your hand, but that's perception. Reality is it breaks just like anything else does. Maybe it's different amongst your own circle...

Sure it breaks. But I've gotten 2.5 years of experience with these phones, and the only reason one experienced a hardware fault was when I dropped it on asphalt. I've got to admit, that one is pretty much my fault. But the phone having a spider-web crack across the entire glass screen, yet still functioning 100% for the next two months, that's all Apple build quality, right there.

Like I said, hardware quality is not a common complaint among iPhones. If you're going to complain about the platform, there are plenty of other things to choose from. However, touting the Pre as some sort of solid hardware in it's wake is maniacal.

If you're ever in the US, stop by a Sprint store. If you can find a working display model, I'll buy you a beer. Then walk into a Best Buy or Wal-Mart and try to find a non-functioning iPhone. If you can, I'll buy you one.

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/9/2009 9:58:09 PM # Q
However, touting the Pre as some sort of solid hardware in it's wake is maniacal.

Hang on, I did what now? Haven't I just written an article about dodgy Touchstones, complained about the rubbish USB door and a crap power button....? Here's one more for you, too: the battery door is a little creaky.

I actually think all consumer electronics is manufactured to a pretty low standard nowadays.

RE: intermittent charging problems
nastebu @ 11/9/2009 11:45:32 PM # Q
Tim Carroll wrote:
As for the iPhone - seriously, I'm not having a go at it. Everyone I know who's picked one up recently has some kind of complaint. May feel more solid in your hand, but that's perception. Reality is it breaks just like anything else does. Maybe it's different amongst your own circle...

I'm guessing that your iphone carrying friends are telling you what you want to hear. abosco is right. There are plenty of things to complain about the iPhone. Build quality is not one of them. It's worth noting that the customer satisfaction rating for iPhone's is way above the average.

http://www.jdpower.com/corporate/news/releases/pressrelease.aspx?ID=2009082

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/10/2009 3:14:41 AM # Q
I'm guessing that your iphone carrying friends are telling you what you want to hear

LOL. No. My friends never tell me what I want to hear. They get better reactions that way. Besides which, I've seen the damn things for myself.

Know what would be nice? Being able to comment about the iPhone without having the resident PIC Apple fan club jumping down your throat. Surely you have better things to do with your time.

Here's a fun experiment: type "iphone build quality" into Google. Let's see what the top results are, shall we?

#1: iPhone Build Quality is Poor! - iPhone
#2: I'm Pissed Off With the iPhone 3G's Shoddy Build Quality - iPhone ...
#3: iPhone 3G case/body edge build quality issue - Mac Forums
#4: iPhone 3G Build quality issues - Mac-Forums.com

How 'bout you go tell those people that build quality isn't worth complaining about?
Sometime PIC blogger
Treo 270 --> Treo 650 --> Treo 680 --> Centro --> Pre
I apologise for any and all emoticons in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.

RE: intermittent charging problems
jca666us @ 11/10/2009 4:11:39 AM # Q
Tim is at odds with reality yet again.

The Pre's build quality sucks - and I said so right after I used one.

Cheap wobbly slider, low grade plastic, cracks, flimsy USB door, etc. and this was after weeks(!!!)

The iphone isn't perfect - the screen on my wife's original iphone cracked after six months. The phone still functioned, however Apple replaced the phone free of charge.

My iphone 3gs had a scratch on the inside of the screen - I went to the Apple store and Apple replaced the screen in 30 minutes.

Also, experimented with your google links (BTW, google is no substitute for journalistic integrity).

Try typing in "Palm Pre Build Quality"

While most of the google links regarding iphone build quality talked about "hairline scratches", the Pre build quality issues are orders of magnitude worse (here's my favorite):

"I'm on my THIRD pre (yellow box). Over the last two weeks, I've noticed an increasing amount of play with the screen. I've also noticed that on the left side of the device the two sections are separated enough that i can almost see the innards. When I push them together, you can hear squeaking. On top of that, the device came with a loose power button that doesn't click nearly as firmly as that of other devices."

"I already exchanged my first one due to a faulty screen, and will likely also exchange my current one because of a wobbly/loose slider. Hopefully third time's a charm."

Third time's the charm? Maybe there should be a Tamara Hope commercial using that slogan...

RE: intermittent charging problems
jca666us @ 11/10/2009 4:36:21 AM # Q
An interesting link - even though it talks about "failure rates" for phones.

http://www.electronista.com/articles/08/11/10/iphone.highly.reliable/

Aside from Tim, would anyone would argue that the Pre is *more* reliable than a Treo?

Some quotes from the article:

The malfunction rate for iPhones after one year is 5.6 percent, compared to 11.2 percent for the Blackberry and 6.2 percent for the Treo.

The study projects that the failure rate for the iPhone after two years will be between 9.2 and 11.3 percent, compared to actual two-year failure rates of 14.3 percent for BlackBerries and 21.0 percent for Treos.

Surprisingly, battery problems is less of an issue for the iPhone than for the other two brands. Less than 0.5 percent of iPhone malfunctions are due to the battery dying, compared to about one percent for the BlackBerry and iPhone.

RE: intermittent charging problems
abosco @ 11/10/2009 6:13:01 AM # M Q
Here's a fun experiment: type "iphone build quality" into Google. Let's see what the top results are, shall we?

When you sell around FORTY MILLION UNITS WORLDWIDE, you're bound to run into the statistically defective units. And of course, the people with the biggest problems are often the ones who complain the loudest. Remember when we were hearing about the Pre's supposed 50% return rate?

You're full of shit. Stick to talking about the advantages of multitasking, not about criticizing the manufacturing capabilities of the company that has manufactured the single most successful consumer electronics device of all time, the iPod. If build quality really was shit, Apple wouldn't have so many repeat customers.

On the contrary, how many people's last PDA was the m505?

RE: intermittent charging problems
nastebu @ 11/10/2009 6:18:23 AM # Q
Tim Carroll wrote:
Know what would be nice? Being able to comment about the iPhone without having the resident PIC Apple fan club jumping down your throat. Surely you have better things to do with your time.

But your comments on Apple are frequently meant to be provocative. You can't complain when you get reactions.

RE: intermittent charging problems
abosco @ 11/10/2009 6:23:55 AM # M Q
More specifically, I'm not entirely sold on multitasking yet. The one example that I always hear is the ability to play Pandora in the background. Fair assessment. I ran into that issue two weeks ago at Halloween. I was at a party with a huge speaker system and a ton of chicks and only rock music on the playlist. As good as grunge rock is, chicks don't get freaky to it. I ended up solving the problem by pulling out my phone, connecting it to the system, selecting Jay-Z on Pandora, and letting the phone pull music off of 3G. Totally saved the day. Unfortunately, as my phone received text messages, I wasn't able to reply because it can't multitask Pandora. If the music were coming from the iPod, I could have.

Other than an example like that, I'm not sold on multitasking. From all the reviews that I've read, people like the one-step task switching of webOS more than the two-step process on the iPhone. But beyond Pandora, the push notification system does a pretty good job of letting you know when you have an IM in AIM. And really, that's my biggest use of multitasking.

Do you have any other uses for multitasking in the Pre's defense?

RE: intermittent charging problems
nastebu @ 11/10/2009 6:32:31 AM # Q
I've come around to really missing multi-tasking on the iPhone.

Pandora is a good example, but there are a lot of times it would be really nice to be able to switch back and forth between the map application and another application. I would love to be able to have my Japanese dictionary and Kanji reference application open at the same time. The card switching bit is much cooler than having to dump back to the home screen (sometimes switching panels), and waiting for an application to re-open.

RE: intermittent charging problems
Gekko @ 11/10/2009 12:57:20 PM # Q

multitasking on the Pre is overstated, overrated, and dubious at best. if you think it's like multitasking on your PC, think again.

RE: intermittent charging problems
Gekko @ 11/10/2009 1:01:40 PM # Q

bosco and friends throw some crazy parties -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZE2OzguWHo

who knew white boys could dance like that?

RE: intermittent charging problems
Tim Carroll @ 11/10/2009 1:35:43 PM # Q
bosco:
And of course, the people with the biggest problems are often the ones who complain the loudest. Remember when we were hearing about the Pre's supposed 50% return rate?

Yep. I'm not saying "iPhone manufacturing is shit". I'm saying "iPhone manufacturing is the same as anything else." Somehow, this meme has gotten out there that Apple's products are of some amazingly higher manufacturing standard than the competition. It's simply not borne out by reality, in my experience. That's all I'm saying. Nobody should have a problem with that, considering it's just an anecdotal observation.

As for multitasking - it's great. One swipe across the gesture area to flick to another app - very handy for, say, referencing a web page whilst slapping an email together, or flicking from the camera to the Photos app. The notification area that grants you limited control over the music player (or other apps that choose to use it) whilst in other apps is great too.

RE: intermittent charging problems
Gekko @ 11/10/2009 2:05:10 PM # Q

Pre's multitasking is more like "saved state via a screen shot" in actual practice. BOGUS AND LAME!!!
RE: intermittent charging problems
nastebu @ 11/10/2009 4:20:54 PM # Q
Gekko wrote:

Pre's multitasking is more like "saved state via a screen shot" in actual practice. BOGUS AND LAME!!!

really? I still haven't used one, or even seen a working one in person. So it still takes time for the application to be responsive? Is it as long a time as the initial start up?

I was expecting better.

RE: intermittent charging problems
nastebu @ 11/10/2009 4:41:13 PM # Q
Tim Carroll wrote:
bosco:
Nobody should have a problem with that, considering it's just an anecdotal observation.

fair enough, but that also means I'm taking your argument as seriously as I did the blather about the Pre's 30% return rate--not at all.


The notification area that grants you limited control over the music player (or other apps that choose to use it) whilst in other apps is great too.

Ooo... that sounds good. How does that work? There are certain gestures for starting and stopping play?

RE: intermittent charging problems
SeldomVisitor @ 11/10/2009 5:21:01 PM # Q
Just an aside about defect rates - one can pay the OEM to do a "better job" thus one's defect rates would be lower. We know Palm cannot afford to pay anything more than the minimum. I personally believe Apple can, however.

That is to say, I don't believe one can equate Apple and Palm defect/return rates given no other information.


RE: intermittent charging problems
abosco @ 11/10/2009 6:46:25 PM # M Q
Ooo... that sounds good. How does that work? There are certain gestures for starting and stopping play?

Yeah, but the iPhone/iPod Touch have that feature as well. While the music is playing, double tap home, and a control menu appears as a pop-up.

The current method works pretty well for most tasks, but there are still a few instances where full multitasking would help. Pandora is one of them. The rest just sound like they need better task switching options, not really full multitasking.

RE: intermittent charging problems
nastebu @ 11/10/2009 11:36:52 PM # Q
abosco wrote:
Yeah, but the iPhone/iPod Touch have that feature as well. While the music is playing, double tap home, and a control menu appears as a pop-up.

I did not know that! Thank you abosco.

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