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Contact Info:
2045 W. Maple Rd., Suite 401
Walled Lake, MI 48390
(248) 960-0772
sales@extendcomputer.com
URL: www.extendcomputer.com

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
34.95 US + $4.50 S&H
Replacement batteries $19.95 US
The Pros:
  • Finally, a rechargeable solution for all Palms
  • Nice price

The Cons:
  • Not quite as "portable" as it could be.
  • No car adapter (see update)

PalmInfoCenter.com Ratings*:
Design:
Cost/benefit:
Coolness:
Overall:

*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



eXtend FullCharge
Robert Zach (zachr@lucent.com)
6/26/2000


So you're like me and you love your Palm III series, PalmVII, IBM WorkPad or TRGpro but the constant battery replacement is getting annoying...Thinking about a Palm V for this reason? Well how about spending $35 and getting rechargeability for your Palm!

Well... welcome eXtend Computer & Instrument into the "Palm Economy." These guys are battery smart people... they make EV & Hybrid electronics for vehicle and boat battery systems. Now they have applied their genius to the Palm. Within the compact packaging seen above you'll find the contents below; an 110V AC Adapter, a FullCharge NiMH Battery, a replacement battery door cover, as well as an installation and operation direction sheet.

    


Installation is a snap. Simply remove the existing battery door, remove batteries, install the FullCharge NiMH battery pack, and replace the door with the included door. The new door has two holes drilled in precisely the right location to receive the pins of the AC recharger pack. The completed install looks like this.



You may notice that the unit I have installed the FullCharge into is a TRGpro. With continued Compact Flash access one can burn through batteries rather quickly. I chose this unit as my testing platform to see just how well the FullCharge survives.

Much to my surprise the FullCharge seemed to perform equally as well as alkalines. I did not notice any appreciable decrease in battery life vs. standard alkaline batteries; even under this kind of drain (constant CF read/writes).

Notice that I mention perceived power. I found that the battery "fuel" meter in my PalmOS 3.3 device did seem to "drain" quickly. Then I remembered something about a dot shortcut. I remembered that by stroking the shortcut command followed by ".7" (dot seven) the battery type can be toggled. On my Palm device running PalmOS 3.3, toggling this to "NiMH" showed accurate battery consumption.

eXtend does mention the battery gauge issue in the directions (very thorough), and points out that "shareware/freeware is available", but they do not explain the simple "fix" above. They do indicate that they will have a software patch available on their web site; I don't believe it is available yet.

The unit is built VERY nicely. The directions are very simple to follow and do a LOT of explaining about charging cycles, operating times, and comparisons to other rechargeable technology such as NiCad.

Even better, the unit is designed to be almost fool proof. The battery can really only be installed in one manner thanks to it's clever design. And, although the charger can be connected improperly, it will NOT damage the unit thanks to the smart electronics in the adapter.

The other real nice thing about this unit is the charging LED indicator. This indicator flashes steady RED while charging and once fully charged flickers periodically to maintain charge. In fact, the LED will only glow RED if the charger is plugged in correctly. And, the charger pin end has a small tab to help easily pull the 2-pin plug off the back of your Palm, all nice touches. The packing is great, and the best feature of that is the NiMH cell comes partially charged. This seems like a small thing, but the cells CANNOT be charged outside the Palm device. This means if they were shipped dead, you'd have an instantly dead Palm. Thanks eXtend for not interrupting our productivity.

   


The plug itself is very slim and DOES allow charging in the cradle very nicely. And with the long adapter cord it is easy to locate the AC adapter far from the cradle. There are a few minor things that I feel could be improved about the FullCharge, and they have to do with portability. As you can see below the pins in the charging plug stick out. As for the AC adapter it's a little heavy and does not have retractable AC prongs. If all of these prongs could collapse, and the AC adapter reduced in size, that would make for a very nice small, light, and portable charging solution.

All in all this is a very nicely engineered power source for the Palm, the price is right, and the purpose extremely useful. Thank you to Joyce from eXtend for allowing us the opportunity to review this product. Best of luck in the Palm Economy eXtend! For further info check out their FAQ at here. I am especially impressed by question #9, it says a ton about customer satisfaction:
QUESTION:   I have a Palm IIIx, but it has a clear case.  Would it be possible to include a template to show me where to drill the holes in my battery cover?
ANSWER:  Currently our product ships with a gray cover.  However, if you purchase FullCharge and then send us your clear cover (with a return postage envelope) we will put the holes in it and return it to you.
-Rob

UPDATE: It appears that my portability issues are already being looked into at eXtend; at least for the automobile. eXtend will shortly be announcing a simple auto adapter that directly plugs into the unit for charging on the road! GREAT! Hopefully eXtend will provide one for a quick follow-up review!! ;-)

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Down

I give it 2 1/2 stars...

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2000 6:05:22 PM #
I got my FullCharge on Friday the 23rd. Initially I was excited, but after checking it out over the weekend, I feel let down. Here's why:
1) slow charger: it takes 10-12 hours for a full charge - for $35 I expect a fast (1-3 hour) charger;
2) cheap battery pack contruction: the pack is held together with what seems like hot glue and the label. After noticing this, I'm paranoid I'll break it...
3) poor fit: when removing the battery pack it feels like it's going to rip the springs out of the Palm battery compartment! The instructions say not to remove and reinsert too much: guess why...?
4) overall quality: maybe my standards are too high, but my overall impression is more towards "garage-product" than "pro-engineering"
5) price/performance: for $35 I can get 2 sets of high-capacity (650-700 mAh) NiMH cells and a fast charger and still have money left over. Plus I'd always have a full spare set of cells to swap out.
6) long-term performance: I'm hoping that the charger pins will still mate securely to the battery pack sockets after a few dozen insertions/removals - there's a 90-day warrantee so if they loosen up I'll be asking for a swap.

I've gone on longer than I intended to, but reading the "rah-rah-hype" review here made we want to add my two cents. (I mean, come ON - battery life with FullCharge's 550 mAh cells is the same as 1000+ alkalines??? - give us a break! We want a critical review, not an infomercial!!)

Don't get me wrong, I don't think FullCharge is a bad product, but I wish I'd waited to see how the rechargeable solutions from http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=649">Solutions for Individuals (assuming it isn't vapourware) or http://www.revolvedesign.com>Revolve Design (are they shipping yet?) compare" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=649">Solutions for Individuals (assuming it isn't vapourware) or http://www.revolvedesign.com>Revolve Design (are they shipping yet?) compare.

RE: I give it 2 1/2 stars...
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/12/2001 5:54:36 PM #
Why are you pulling the Full Charge battery module out in the first place?

URLs sanfu

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/26/2000 6:46:39 PM #
Wow - those links got interpreted in a weird way!
What I tried to close with is this:
Don't get me wrong, I don't think FullCharge is a bad product, but I wish I'd waited to see how the rechargeable solutions from Solutions for Individuals (assuming it isn't vaporware) or Revolve Design (are they shipping yet?) compare.
Solutions for Individuals was announced on PalmInfocenter back in March at http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=649" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=649
Revolve Design has teasers at http://www.revolvedesign.com" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://www.revolvedesign.com
RE: URLs sanfu
Joyce Harvey @ 6/26/2000 9:50:02 PM #
Dear Anonymous,

Wow - Our feedback on FullCharge has been overwhelmingly positive; much like the review posted here.

That being said, we are concerned that every one of our customers be completely satisfied with their purchase. Since FullCharge for Palm has not lived up to your expectations, I encourage you to contact me personally and we will provide you with a complete refund, including shipping. Email: JHarvey@eXtendComputer.com or Telephone 248-960-0772

I hope you will accept this refund offer, so you may pursue one of the other solutions you've mentioned here (which may better suite your needs).

For the benefit of any reader who wants a detailed response, I would like to address each of your comments.

1) Slow charge time...
A) As indicated on our web site, FullCharge is a slower style charger (10 hours for a full recharge, 12 hours if the battery is completely dead). Fast charging (1 to 3 hours) requires additional electronics be built into the battery or the Palm itself, in order to properly sense the battery's condition and to guarantee safe charging. Cell phones, laptop computers and even some wall plug chargers include these electronics from the beginning design of the product. Unfortunately Palm never incorporated these electronics into the III and VII series (because they never intended them to be rechargeable). We investigated including the electronics into the FullCharge battery but the limited space (volume) within the Palm III battery compartment prevented this. As it turns out, the slow charging is better for the batteries themselves, and so the number of useful charge/discharge cycles is greater. Finally, fast charging (1 hour) causes the batteries to heat up which may not be desireable while holding a Palm III or VII.

2) Cheap battery pack construction...
&
3) Poor Fit...
A) These are directly related; and not that we have anything against hot melt glue, but it is not used in the FullCharge battery. Actually, the battery assembly is bonded with an epoxy.

The starting point here is that the Palm III and VII were designed to hold two AAA batteries. And since Palm wanted the size of the device to be samll, they didn't waste any space in the battery compartment. So when we decided we wanted to make the Palm rechargeable, and we didn't want to have to remove the battery in order to charge it, it was necessary to design a method of connecting and disconnecting directly to the batteries. Of course a plastic molded, fully enclosed battery assembly with an integral connector (like a cell phone or camcorder) would have been an ideal solution. But there just wasn't enough space within the battery compartment to contain such an enclosure (not without having a bulge protrude out the back of the Palm). So the batteries had to be bonded to each other, with the connector sockets attached directly to the battery cells and even then, it is still a tight fit (just as we state in the documentation). But, if what you want is to put in the battery, install the new cover and have a rechargeable Palm, then that is really all you need. Honestly, again, it is not designed to be taken out and installed over and over again (and actually, this defeats the purpose). Finally, realize that the battery contacts are attached to the battery itself. These contacts are recessed below the battery cover on the FullCharge battery. This is a small thing but it eliminates any concern about them shorting out (in a purse with coins, in a pocket with a money clip, etc).

4) Overall Quality..."garage product"...
A) As noted at the beginning of this response, we do want our customers to be happy with their FullCharge purchase. If it fails to meet your expectations, by all means contact me to arrange a refund. As for the "garage product" observation, I hope the information provided in this response gives you some sense of the level of thought and design which went into making FullCharge install and work as seamlessly as it does.

5) Price/Performance...
A) For $35 most Palm users won't have to remove or replace the batteries in their Palm III or VII again (see review above). Just plug it in when it's convenient, and it'll be ready when needed. Comparing it to 4 seperate rechargeable batteries that need to be removed and recharged is hardly the same.

6) Long-term Performance...
A) FullCharge has accumulated tens of thousands of hours of use without any pin/socket interface problems. Obviously we don't anticipate any problems with the pin/socket interface between the charge plug and the battery if the the system is used properly. Like most higher quality electronic connectors, the FullCharge pins and sockets are also gold plated for long life performance.

The final comment about how 550mAH NiMH cells could possibly get similar life to 1000+ mAH alkaline batteries can be understood by looking beyond the basic mAH rating. In fact, we highly under-rate the capacity of our batteries so as not to mislead (even accidently) the actual performance. All battery capacities are measured at a given discharge rate, and unfortunately many different discharge rates are used (they are not standardized). And, as it turns out, NiMH battery chemistry is less affected by the discharge rate than alkaline battery chemistry. So a TRG Pro accessing a flash card (high discharge rate) will actaully cause a significant reduction of alkaline battery capacity (provides much less than the 1000 mAH rating) while the NiMH will perform closer to the 550 mAH rating we have given FullCharge). Also, the Palm handheld computers give the low battery warning and then shutdown at a voltage which is higher than the end of discharge voltage for alkaline batteries. Basically, when your Palm says your alkaline batteries are dead, they still have some life left and your Palm can't use it.

For the readers who have persisted to read all of this, I hope you have a better understanding of what FullCharge for Palm is, and what to expect from it. If, like us, you don't want to have to keep swaping batteries in and out of your Palm III and VII, then FullCharge is a carefully designed solution which will meet your needs.

RE: Extend Battery
blvaughan @ 6/27/2000 2:49:48 PM #
My first question is why would you want to take it out of the Palm? Once it is in, you simply hook up, charge, unhook and go.
The time it took to build up the full charge was not a problem to me since the Palm can be operated at the same time.
I am sorry that you didn't get to feel the same sense of joy that I did when I got my charger. I have bragged to everyone I can get to stand still long enough to look.
I am looking forward to a resurgence of joy as soon as I can order the car adapter. Being paid biweekly has its downfalls!

RE: "I give it 2 1/2 stars..."

Joyce Harvey @ 6/26/2000 11:22:04 PM #
Dear Anonymous,

Wow - Our feedback on FullCharge has been overwhelmingly positive; much like the review posted here.

That being said, we are concerned that every one of our customers be completely satisfied with their purchase. Since FullCharge for Palm has not lived up to your expectations, I encourage you to contact me personally and we will provide you with a complete refund, including shipping. Email: JHarvey@eXtendComputer.com or Telephone 248-960-0772

I hope you will accept this refund offer, so you may pursue one of the other solutions you've mentioned here (which may better suite your needs).

For the benefit of any reader who wants a detailed response, I would like to address each of your comments.

1) Slow charge time...
A) As indicated on our web site, FullCharge is a slower style charger (10 hours for a full recharge, 12 hours if the battery is completely dead). Fast charging (1 to 3 hours) requires additional electronics be built into the battery or the Palm itself, in order to properly sense the battery's condition and to guarantee safe charging. Cell phones, laptop computers and even some wall plug chargers include these electronics from the beginning design of the product. Unfortunately Palm never incorporated these electronics into the III and VII series (because they never intended them to be rechargeable). We investigated including the electronics into the FullCharge battery but the limited space (volume) within the Palm III battery compartment prevented this. As it turns out, the slow charging is better for the batteries themselves, and so the number of useful charge/discharge cycles is greater. Finally, fast charging (1 hour) causes the batteries to heat up which may not be desireable while holding a Palm III or VII.

2) Cheap battery pack construction...
&
3) Poor Fit...
A) These are directly related; and not that we have anything against hot melt glue, but it is not used in the FullCharge battery. Actually, the battery assembly is bonded with an epoxy.

The starting point here is that the Palm III and VII were designed to hold two AAA batteries. And since Palm wanted the size of the device to be samll, they didn't waste any space in the battery compartment. So when we decided we wanted to make the Palm rechargeable, and we didn't want to have to remove the battery in order to charge it, it was necessary to design a method of connecting and disconnecting directly to the batteries. Of course a plastic molded, fully enclosed battery assembly with an integral connector (like a cell phone or camcorder) would have been an ideal solution. But there just wasn't enough space within the battery compartment to contain such an enclosure (not without having a bulge protrude out the back of the Palm). So the batteries had to be bonded to each other, with the connector sockets attached directly to the battery cells and even then, it is still a tight fit (just as we state in the documentation). But, if what you want is to put in the battery, install the new cover and have a rechargeable Palm, then that is really all you need. Honestly, again, it is not designed to be taken out and installed over and over again (and actually, this defeats the purpose). Finally, realize that the battery contacts are attached to the battery itself. These contacts are recessed below the battery cover on the FullCharge battery. This is a small thing but it eliminates any concern about them shorting out (in a purse with coins, in a pocket with a money clip, etc).

4) Overall Quality..."garage product"...
A) As noted at the beginning of this response, we do want our customers to be happy with their FullCharge purchase. If it fails to meet your expectations, by all means contact me to arrange a refund. As for the "garage product" observation, I hope the information provided in this response gives you some sense of the level of thought and design which went into making FullCharge install and work as seamlessly as it does.

5) Price/Performance...
A) For $35 most Palm users won't have to remove or replace the batteries in their Palm III or VII again (see review above). Just plug it in when it's convenient, and it'll be ready when needed. Comparing it to 4 seperate rechargeable batteries that need to be removed and recharged is hardly the same.

6) Long-term Performance...
A) FullCharge has accumulated tens of thousands of hours of use without any pin/socket interface problems. Obviously we don't anticipate any problems with the pin/socket interface between the charge plug and the battery if the the system is used properly. Like most higher quality electronic connectors, the FullCharge pins and sockets are also gold plated for long life performance.

The final comment about how 550mAH NiMH cells could possibly get similar life to 1000+ mAH alkaline batteries can be understood by looking beyond the basic mAH rating. In fact, we highly under-rate the capacity of our batteries so as not to mislead (even accidently) the actual performance. All battery capacities are measured at a given discharge rate, and unfortunately many different discharge rates are used (they are not standardized). And, as it turns out, NiMH battery chemistry is less affected by the discharge rate than alkaline battery chemistry. So a TRG Pro accessing a flash card (high discharge rate) will actaully cause a significant reduction of alkaline battery capacity (provides much less than the 1000 mAH rating) while the NiMH will perform closer to the 550 mAH rating we have given FullCharge). Also, the Palm handheld computers give the low battery warning and then shutdown at a voltage which is higher than the end of discharge voltage for alkaline batteries. Basically, when your Palm says your alkaline batteries are dead, they still have some life left and your Palm can't use it.

For the readers who have persisted to read all of this, I hope you have a better understanding of what FullCharge for Palm is, and what to expect from it. If, like us, you don't want to have to keep swaping batteries in and out of your Palm III and VII, then FullCharge is a carefully designed solution which will meet your needs.

RE: RE: full charge
ccahua @ 6/27/2000 3:10:02 AM #
Wow! Great reply/discussion. When are you going to come out with the Handspring version??

eXtend FullCharge

K Guyot @ 6/27/2000 12:09:24 PM #
I have been using the product for a month now and I am
quite pleased with it. I have the AC adapter set up at
work since that is where my Palm III gets used the most,
and I haven't had a problem with the equipment
yet. It has gone through many plug/unplug sequences
with no degradation on any of the supplied items. I
rate it highly.
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