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By Brooke A. Wheeler
The Charge-n-Run is a conversion kit for Palm III and VII-series, IBM Workpad c5 and Symbol SPT1500 PDAs that allows you to turn your PDA into a rechargeable unit like the Palm V, Visor Prism and some of the other newer ones on the market.
The unit I tested was a "pre-production" model but seemed well constructed and operated just like I expected. Included with the unit were several pages of photocopied instructions which, while brief, were complete and easy-to-understand.
Next I took out the AAA batteries from my Palm and replaced them with the NiMH pack supplied by the manufacturer. I removed the original battery door and snapped in the replacement one provided. I was worried that it would be loose and rattle but it was actually a better fit than my original battery cover. Once I installed the battery pack, I powered the unit on just to make sure everything was OK. It powered up and indicated a partial charge.
I placed the unit in the cradle to charge and proceeded to browse the manual to figure out how to read the charge-indicator light correctly. The Charge-N-Run is equipped with a single, green LED that glows solid green when the unit is powered and the PDA is not in the cradle. When the unit is charging, the LED flashes rapidly, and once itís fully charged, the LED blinks more slowly. This may sound a bit ambiguous, but itís really very easy to tell what the charger is doing at a glance once youíve watched it a couple of times.
The manual also provided instructions for calibrating the battery-charge indicator in the launcher so it will correctly detect the charge level of the battery pack. Iím not sure if Palm OS v3.3 has settings for NiMH but on my unit with Palm OS 3.5 I was able to set it to NiMH and the battery meter seemed to be fairly accurate after that.
The battery pack canít match my m505, which gives me about 10 hours when I donít use the backlight, but under normal usage conditions youíll most likely never encounter the low battery warning. On the plus side, if you do run into a situation where the battery pack is depleted, you can always remove it and slap in a pair of regular old AAA batteries. In fact, if you plan on taking your PDA on a vacation or business trip, thatís probably the most convenient solution.
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