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33.6 PalmModem Connectivity Kit
Ed Hardy (ed@palminfocenter.com)

For a long time, the simplest solution for Palm III series owners who wanted a modem was the 14.4 PalmModem. Last Spring, Palm quietly pulled it and this Summer they announced there would be a faster replacement. In September, they released the 33.6 PalmModem Connectivity Kit.

Externally, the new PalmModem greatly resembles its predecessor, a 3 inch by 2 inch by 1 inch rectangle that clips over the serial port of the III series.. The only changes are that it is in a dark plastic that matches the case for the IIIc and has the new Palm logo on it.

This shape has collected quite a bit of criticism from many. It is big enough to hold 2 AAA batteries, which means you don't have to change batteries that often, but it is so big it isn't convenient to carry around with you in your pocket. I've found that a CD carrying case with the CD holders torn out is just the right size for it and my IIIx.

Internally, there is one major difference between the old 14.4 PalmModem and the new one; the 33.6 version has real connection problems. After hours of fiddling with preferences, I was never able to make a connection to the modem at my office so I could do a remote HotSync, which I do all the time on the 14.4 version. I am able to make a connection with my ISP so I know the modem works, though I have a much higher failure to connect rate than I am used to.

The instructions that came with the thing are fairly minimal. For example, in the Connection Preferences section, it explains what Flow Control and Init Strings are, but doesn't say what the correct settings for these should be.

After learning nothing useful from the documentation, I contacted Palm Support, who were flat useless. The Palm Support Web site hasn't even been updated yet to show that the 33.6 version exists; all it talks about is the 14.4 version. I sent them several e-mails and, three weeks after my first message, all I have is some promises that they are working on my problem.

My next step was to turn to my fellow users. I posted a message in a couple of Palm newsgroups and heard back that I wasn't the only one having these difficulties. I got lots of advice but none of it let me make a connection to the modem at my office.

I have no idea what connection protocols the 33.6 PalmModem supports. Neither the documentation nor Palm's site say, at least not where I could find it.

Another disappointment with the PalmModem is that while Palm advertises that it comes with MultiMail Pro they don't mention that this is an old version, not the current 3.0. It does, however, come with a cheery offer to buy it at full price.

Speaking of prices, $99 is a touch steep for a 33.6 modem. I know, it has to be compact and use a minimum of power, which raises the price, but a quick search turned up a ton of 56K PC Card modems for less than $99. Compared to the space limitations of a PC card, the PalmModem seems huge.

When I bought the faster modem, I had hopes that everything I did online would go much quicker. I was really surprised that this didn't turn out to be the case. I didn't do any scientific tests but I never seemed to notice anything going much faster. Even the largest download I regularly do, syncing AvantGo, isn't finished in noticeably less time. It may go a bit quicker but the change isn't startling.

I hope you don't get the impression that I'm against using a modem with my Palm. If you read my article on replacing a laptop with a handheld, I go on endlessly about writing e-mail and surfing the Web with my Palm and modem. But this new modem doesn't cut the mustard with me.

To play straight with you, I've heard from people who bought one of these and were perfectly happy with it. I would probably be satisfied, too, if all I needed to do was connect to my ISP. But before you buy one, keep in mind that you are running the risk that you won't be able to use it. Check your return policy before you put your money down; I'm glad I did.

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Modems

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2000 12:05:56 PM #
I got tired of waiting for the Palm Modem 33.6, and bought a Psion Infared modem. It is portable, and connects at 56 K. I paid $99, on sale at COMP USA. It works well connecting with my ISP, but I haven't tried a direct modem sync. No software is included, however.

The main advantage is that it uses infared, so it will work with any Palm III, V, Visor, or Windows CE.

For more info, see http://www.psionconnect.com/tm56kgsma.htm

Mike Grayson
mbgrayson@hotmail.com

RE: Modems
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2000 9:30:37 AM #
I bought the Psion as well and it works great! I've used it to connect to my ISP as well as a modem sync to my desktop. Highly recommended.

RE: Modems
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/13/2000 10:35:35 AM #
Am I getting this right? A Psion IR modem which will work with Palms?

RE: Modems
Jerry @ 12/10/2000 1:03:31 PM #
Mike,
I'd like your advice on which systems to buy to best acess my AOL e-mail when on the beach (literally). I'm thinking the Palm VIIx, but I'm not sure it interfaces all that well with my AOL. Would you recommend the IIIx with the Psion modem you seem to like?
Jerry



A good argument for Pocket PC or Handspring

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2000 3:56:18 PM #
So Palm comes out with the modem late even though they are a modem company as well (i.e. 3com and U.S. Robotics). They didn't change the size, and it doesn't work right. This is an argument for moving to Pocket PC or Visor if I ever heard one. Why? Becuase this mdoem shows the Palm trends of 1) lack of innovation, 2) poor quality control 3) little to no support. What are they doing with all the money from their IPO and selling Palms at inflationary prices? They sure aren't puting it into R&D or support. This company is a disgrace.

RE: A good argument for Pocket PC or Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/9/2000 10:33:34 PM #
I wanted to wait for the Palm Modem but got tired of the months(!) of waiting for it AFTER they posted it on their web site. I got myself a handspring and have been pretty happy so far. I did buy a modem module and use it to get e-mail etc. The advent of newer and varied modules for the Visor has me convinced I made a good choice. I did have to give my Palm IIIx to my wife to "justify" the Visor but thats how it goes sometimes....

RE: A good argument for Pocket PC or Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2000 6:24:57 AM #
Think about what u said......
If Palm Inc. had an IPO (Initial Public Offering)
Thus they are no longer part of 3com OR US Robotics
So the argument that they are a modem company aswell is false and that has nothing to do with the lateness of the modem release..... I'm not saying that i like late product releases just that the fact that they originated from 3com....

RE: A good argument for Pocket PC or Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/11/2000 3:19:41 AM #
Lack of innovation? Disgrace? Argument? The market decides such things, not Microsoft. If you don't like the Palm, don't buy one.

Palm misses with this one

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/10/2000 3:12:49 PM #
It looks like Palm Computing has really missed with this item. The Pegasus III is a 56k self-contained modem which has incredibly easy setup. It easily runs from an acoustical connector, if required, which practically guarantees connectivity from any phone on the planet. There are other products which offer better speed and better documentation at much more competitive prices.

Palm Computing can't continue to believe that they control the niche for peripherals which will run on the Palm.

m100

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/11/2000 6:41:35 PM #
I have a m100, my first handheld. Will this new modem work for me? How is it possible to Email, and surf the web-any web page? To sync, does it connect to my home pc? Is there a charge to connect wireless? Thanks.
RE: m100
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/7/2001 12:57:35 AM #
No, your m100 will not do much of anything without the $30-$50 package for e-mail and then there aren't any modems available anyhow as of yet from what I understand...that is why I went back to Staples and traded the m100 for a IIIxe...only $40 to do that!!


Sounds good

Matti @ 10/11/2000 11:37:26 PM #
Testing...

Sounds good

Matti @ 10/11/2000 11:37:26 PM #
Testing...

Idea

macmaverick @ 10/19/2000 9:42:54 PM #
What if Palm crammed the guts of a 56K modem into the existing shell, rewrote the manual and redistributed it? Better yet, what if an independent developer did this?

--And he said, "Ah, the Palm!"
RE: Idea
pcruthven @ 11/6/2000 4:24:15 PM #
Good idea, how about a socket for the Palm V GSM conection cables as well and it would be a purchase on my list.

A Bit Late

Ed @ 12/11/2000 12:16:52 PM #
Want to hear something funny? Palm Tech Support just sent me an e-mail with some suggestions on how to connect to my office modem. That's over two months since my last request for help on this issue and just about that long since I returned the darn thing. Oh yeah, and they blamed the problem on my office modem. Not a sterling example of good tech support.

---
Plenipotentiary
Palm Infocenter
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