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HandEra
www.HandEra.com

PalmInfoCenter.com Bottom Line:

The Price:
  • $350
The Pros:
  • 240 by 320 pixel screen
  • CF and SD expansion slots
  • Virtual Graffiti area
  • Voice Recorder
  • Compatible with Palm III series peripherals

The Cons:
  • No Color Version
  • Comparatively Large
  • Poor Mac Support

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*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



HandEra 330 Review

By Ed Hardy
5/20/2001


Overview
The HandEra 330 (H330) is the latest device from the company that used to be named TRG Products. The H330 is the successor to the venerable TRGpro and is an improvement in just about every way.

The Housing
At first glance, the H330 looks like a jazzed up Palm III series. Instead of a boring old charcoal gray housing, the front of the 330 has been painted silver. This is one of the aspects of the device that has drawn some criticism from people who would have preferred a more subdued housing. Trouble is, everyone has his or her own opinions about what looks good. If they had made it all black, there would have been people complaining about that.

Basically, I think the silver case looks fine. A true metal case would have looked better but I understand they were working to keep the device as inexpensive as possible and plastic was the way to do that.

One of the first things you notice about the H330 is the lack of the silk-screen area with the screen off. In case you've been living in a cave, the H330 is the first Palm powered device ever to have a virtual Graffiti area.

The area around the buttons has a pattern of tiny indentations, which is another area some people have criticized. However, a good part of this is necessary and can't be removed. The H330 is also the first Palm to sport a decent built-in speaker and most of the tiny holes in the housing on the right front are for it. The designers at HandEra simply tried to make something the device had to have look as good as possible.

The power button is on the upper left and has an indentation so it can be pressed with the stylus. This button is very small. Almost too small.

The built-in microphone, yet another H330 first, is just a tiny hole on the upper right above the name plate. There is also a small LED on the upper left that is one of the Alarm options.

On the left side are two of the many great new features of the H330, a jog dial and a programmable button. These are well positioned to be used with the left thumb. If you are a lefty, the right index finger works pretty well, too.

On the top are the Secure Digital (SD) slot and the Compact Flash (CF) slot. Both come with plastic blanks to keep lint out of the port when a real card isn't being used.

The infrared port is on the top, too, pushed over to the left by the slots. I don't know if it points up slightly or what but in order to get my other Palms to make IR contact with this one, I have to hold them slightly above it.

The back is black and, of course, plastic. Oddly, part of the stylus channel is open, showing the metal barrel of the stylus. I'm not sure why they did this but I don't like it. When I'm holding the H330 in my left hand and writing on it with my right, my fingertips stretch across the empty channel, which isn't terribly comfortable.

They have made a nice change to the reset slot. Instead of being so small you have to insert a pin, it is deeply recessed but the size of the whole stylus tip. To perform a reset, you don't even have to go to the trouble of unscrewing the top of the stylus.

The major feature of the back is the battery door, which opens to reveal the four AAAs the H330 is powered by.

At the bottom is the serial port. Sadly, they didn't copy the IIIx and put a sliding door on this port; it is simply exposed.

The H330 is almost exactly the same size and shape as the Palm III series and the TRGpro. It HotSyncs just fine in my IIIx's cradle and works perfectly with my GoType keyboard.

This is one of the real strengths of the H330. New m500 series and N710C owners are going to have to wait a while for a full range of peripherals to be available. Because I already own a IIIx, my H330 had a wide-array of available add-ons ready for it right out of the box.

It comes with the standard III series flip cover in black plastic. In case you've never seen one, this opens towards the top and isn't capable of flipping around all the way to the back. It stops when open about 120 degrees. If you aren't a fan of the front-plate of the H330, you might console yourself with the fact that it will be covered with this black cover most of the time.

According to HandEra, it weighs 5.9 ounces, just slightly less than my IIIx with the batteries installed. It feels just about the same weight when measured with my non-scientific hands. Putting in the optional lithium-ion battery pack drops the weight to 5.4 ounces.

Whew, I hope this review is detailed enough for you. I count well over 700 words and I haven't even turned the thing on yet.

The Screen
The feature of the H330 that has immediately chased some people away is that it has monochrome LCD screen. I know there are a few people bound and determined to have a color screen but I ask you to have an open mind.

HandEra considered having a color screen version and eventually decided to pass because they were determined to have the high-resolution screen. They decided that a full-color, high-resolution screen would have given the H330 an unacceptably short battery life.

Also, they were trying to keep the device as inexpensive as possible and a screen both color and hi-res would have increased the price considerably. The Sony N710C does have both and is $150 more expensive.

However, HandEra hasn't totally dismissed the idea of color. As screens become more efficient and battery technology improves, they may someday have a model with a color screen.

Physically, the LCD is slightly lighter and less green than the one on my IIIx. It offers decent readability. Touch a small icon in the Graffiti area and an on-screen contrast control appears.

Thankfully, HandEra doesn't use the horrible reversing backlight. With the backlight on the H330 is quite readable in just about any low-light situation. In fact, I tried the device in as many lighting situations as I could, from full Sun to complete darkness and I found it usable in all of them. The backlight turns the screen light blue.

I can't decide if I think the greatest feature of the H330 is that it has the dual expansion slots or the high-resolution screen.

The screen is always at least 240 by 240 pixels. Tap a small arrow and the Graffiti area disappears and suddenly you are looking at a 240 by 320 screen.

This high-resolution screen vastly improves the way almost everything on the H330 looks. Fonts are smoother; images look better, too. It is free of the jagged-looking graphics that plague lower resolution screens.

Graffiti Area
The ability to hide the Graffiti area really made me realize how much space is being wasted by having it silk-screened on.

Having it created by the OS has other advantages, too. As you write in the Graffiti area, your lines appear on the screen immediately where your stylus touches. This is cool but, frankly, took a bit of getting used to. It is great feedback. I expect my Graffiti skills to improve. I hadn't realized how scrawled some of my letters were until I could actually see what my poor Palm was trying to interpret. While I've used apps that showed me what I was writing before, I haven't looked at one in years. My handwriting has gotten worse since then.

Even when the Graffiti area is hidden, it isn't totally gone. A small strip remains on the bottom of the screen with tiny Apps and Menu icons and one to pop the Graffiti area back up again.

If you tap an icon, a Qwerty keyboard replaces the Graffiti area. There is also an option to permanently replace the blank Graffiti screen with a keyboard for people who would rather hunt and peck.

H330 owners might consider investing in some screen protectors. I've never used these for the whole screen but I do keep a piece of tape over the Graffiti area on my m505. It didn't matter that the tape is semi-opaque on previous models; there wasn't anything interesting to look at underneath it. But the H330 changes all of that. Unless you are planning on wasting a couple of the nice features of the screen, the virtual Graffiti area and landscape mode, you'll need to have some kind of full screen protection if you enter a lot of text into your H330.

Application Support
Naturally, applications are going to have to be rewritten to take full advantage of the high-resolution screen but you aren't going to have to wait. The H330 comes pre-installed with dozens of apps that are ready to use the full 240 x 320 screen.

Of course, HandEra has rewritten the built-in apps. Being able to look at a whole day's events without having to scroll is wonderful. So is being able to see an entire Address Book entry at a glance.

The H330 comes with a nice selection of third party apps that have been optimized for its screen, too. This includes the Quickoffice 5.1 suite for viewing and editing Microsoft Word and Excel files on the device.

I think viewing large amounts of text or large spreadsheets on the H330 is one of its best features. And the ability to view applications in landscape mode is great, too. The Graffiti area even moves to the new bottom of the screen.

Instead of just the usual four font sizes, the HandEra has eight, the smallest almost unreadably small. This means you can show a lot of data on a single screen. But no matter what size font you prefer, the high-resolution screen displays them smoothly.

It also come pre-loaded with a nice selection of common card games from Seahorse Software that use the full screen, too. However, these are unregistered. They also included a hi-res demo of TankPilot.

Emulation
Naturally, not every Palm app has been rewritten for the H330. For the rest, HandEra offers three options. First, the H330 can do something like pixel doubling, except that each pixel becomes 1.5 pixels, stretching the display from 160 to 240 pixels. To the right is a screenshot of SolFree running in Scale to Fit mode.

HandEra believes that about 95% of legacy applications will be able run in this mode. The H330 has ways that ensure that buttons, text, and other screen elements line up or touch each other as they are designed to. However, these don't always work, especially in apps that depend heavily on bitmapped images, so they have provided the other display methods.

The other two options are to display the application at the old resolution in a small window, either in the middle of the display or in the upper left hand corner. Because the 330's pixels are smaller than those of other Palm powered handhelds, apps displayed like this will be smaller than they appear on other devices. To the left is a screenshot of SolFree running in Center mode.

You choose which of these options to use for each application in a new area of the Prefs app. Opening it brings up a full list of all the third party software on the H330 and gives you the option to view each one as Scale to Fit, Upper Left, or Center. If the application has been written to take advantage of the H330's high-res screen, it shows up here as High-Res and this can't be changed.

The Jog Dial and Side Button
When I first heard that the H330 has a jog dial, I thought "How nice. Maybe I'll even use it." Now that I have, I think "My God, why isn't this on all handhelds?"

The jog dial is amazingly convenient. I hadn't realized how often I had to take the stylus out of its slot to perform a simple tasks. The jog dial lets me use the H330 one handed in most situations.

There are still plenty of times when just getting out the stylus is more convenient but if you are in a situation where you need to look something up and you only have one hand available, it is a life saver.

Basically, the jog dial works like the up/down buttons. Pressing down on it is equivalent to tapping the screen.

Above the jog dial is a side button that is programmable to do most anything. Together with the jog dial you can do a surprising amount of stuff.

I'll give you an example. I just tried to look up an address one handed, pretending a mobile phone was in the other. I pushed the side button and the H330 started up. I was in the wrong application so I pushed the side button again, which took me to the Launcher. I still wasn't in the right category so I kept pushing the side button until I came to the correct one. I then moved down with the jog dial until the Address Book was highlighted and then pushed down on the jog dial, launching the app. I then used the jog dial to find the address I was looking for and pressed down on it again to open it. I then used the jog dial to move to the bottom of the screen. Oops, I've opened the wrong entry. I then pressed the side button yet again, which took me back to the listing of Address Book entries where I again used the jog dial to find the one I was looking for and open it. I couldn't have done the whole thing much faster two handed.

This is with the default settings. You can program the jog dial and side button to perform various functions, from adjusting the contrast or speaker volume to launching applications.

CompactFlash and Secure Digital Slots
Another major feature is the expansion slots, of which it has two: an SD slot and a CompactFlash one. HandEra's primary plan with this was to have one for memory and one for hardware expansion. Currently, the SD slot is good only for memory expansion. The Secure Digital Association is still working on the Input/Output specification needed to allow SD modems, cameras, and other peripherals to work so these aren't likely to appear before Fall. However, there are plenty of CF I/O devices already on the market. HandEra's plan is to allow users to use both simultaneously.

The H330 comes with an application called CardPro that lets you see what is on your CF and SD cards and move files around. Both formats use the VFS file system so files can be copied back and forth from RAM to card or even directly between cards.

CardPro is adequate for what it does. Files are moved pretty quickly. CardPro shows the contents of RAM and the cards like you were viewing a hard drive on a PC. Sadly, you can't double tap on a listed app or file to open it like you could if you actually were on a PC. Maybe someday.

The H330 also comes with a reasonably featured backup application called, wait for it, Backup. You can easily make multiple backups of the contents of RAM onto either type of card. The application runs fairly quickly, which is important when copying lots of files.

There are several apps available now that let you run applications directly from SD or CF cards. After some thought, I decided that function would have to wait for a future article. This review is going to be long enough as it is and none of these applications, even the one that HandEra makes, comes preinstalled on the H330.

I will briefly mention some of the CF devices that are available because they are one of the real strengths of the H330. The H330 can use both Type I and Type II CF cards. There are several CF modems, a barcode scanner, and you can get CF devices that other Palm owners only dream of, like Ethernet cards and microdrives with huge capacity.

Processor and OS
The H330 has 8MB of RAM, 2 MB of Flash memory, and runs the 33 MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ. It uses a version of OS 3.5 that has been tweaked for it, the latest available from HandEra, OS 3.5.2.

The Dragonball VZ is the fastest of this line of processors and is actually capable of addressing 16 MB of RAM. I expect to see sites begin offering upgrade services soon after the H330 is released.

The H330 does have a 2 MB flashable ROM, so it can be upgraded. In fact, HandEra is promising to offer an upgrade to OS 4.0 when they have finished modifying it for their models. If they continue to do what they have done in the past, this upgrade will be free.

Voice Recorder
It also has a built-in microphone and an amplified speaker to do voice recording. It can record directly to RAM or CF or SD card.

The default function of the side button is to launch the voice recorder. In fact, if you continue to hold the side button down, you can wake the H330 up, open the voice recorder, and start recording. This is very handy if you want to make a quick memo without a lot of hassle.

The voice recorder is a darn handy feature. I like Palm's little Note Pad where you can leave quick reminders to yourself but it is ever so much quicker to just record a quick voice memo.

Speaker quality is good. I tried it under a bunch of different situations and I can always tell what I'm saying when I play back my recordings. Recordings sound best when speaking at a normal volume and holding the H330 a foot or so away from the face. Too close and they get blurred; too far and they get quiet. But my recordings were all understandable no matter what distance I tried.

The recordings are being saved in 8 bit mono. About 30 seconds of recording time takes up 240 K. By my calculations, you could get roughly 30 minutes of voice records on a 16 MB card.

I tried the speaker with a couple of other apps and it turned out to be hit or miss. I couldn't get TealMovie to make any noise at all while TrekSounds sounded great.

Batteries
Some CF peripherals, especially the IBM Microdrives, require quite a bit of power to run. To handle this increased battery drain, the H330 uses either four AAAs or a lithium-ion battery pack. This satisfies users who prefer the convenience of not being tied to a wall plug and those who prefer to not have to frequently buy new batteries. Also, this means the 330 has one of the most flexible power options of any Palm. Even if you have the li-ion pack, if you run out of power in a place where you can't recharge, you can just remove the pack and put in some AAA's and keep going.

The li-ion pack can be charged from the cradle or from an external AC adapter that plugs into the side of the H330. HandEra doesn't have the li-ion pack ready yet so I can't say much about it.

While I've had the H330 for most of a week, the battery level has hardly budged. At this point I can't really tell you how long it is going to last on a set of batteries and I doubt you'd be willing to wait to read this review the weeks it is going to take me to find out.

Alarms
The H330's addition to the standard Palm alarm playbook is a small red LED that can be set to blink when an alarm goes off. The main advantage of this is it doesn't stop blinking when the H330 shuts itself down so if an alarm goes off when you are away from your handheld, when you come back you can tell without even turning it on that you had an alarm go off.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that with its large amplified speaker, the alarms on the H330 are very loud. The alarms set on low are about the volume of my IIIx with its alarms on high.

Macintosh Support
Like its predecessor, the H330 has no out of the box Mac support. The only desktop software supplied is for Windows. However, it works fine with the Mac desktop app you can get from Palm. I'd also suggest you consider a CF card reader for your Mac, too. The only way HandEra usually gives to upgrade the OS is via CF or Windows app.

Conclusion
HandEra designed this device with the business user in mind. It has the features that a typical salesperson might need: a voice recorder, long battery life, the ability to store and display large amounts of data, and more.

They plan to primarily sell it directly companies planning to give them to their employees for some specific business task, like salesforce automation. However, they are aware that plenty of consumers will like the H330 so they are offering them in retail stores. But notice that they will mostly be sold in office supply stores rather than consumer electronics ones.

If there is a feature that you are wondering why they left out, ask yourself if a person in a sales meeting would need it. If the answer is "no", then you'll understand.

Besides salespeople, who do I think the H330 is right for? People who are into add-ons, for one. If you want to make sure your handheld is covering as many bases as possible when it comes to expandability, the H330 is the way to go.

Also, people who need to work with a lot of data. If you need to collect and view large amounts of info, the H330 multiple expansion slots and hi-res screen is just what you need.

People on a budget. At only $350, I think the H330 gives you the most bang for your buck. Yeah, you can get cheaper Palms but even much more expensive ones don't have all the features the H330 does.

But there is also the other side of the coin. Who is the H330 not right for? That should be pretty obvious. If you demand a color screen, you probably haven't read this far into this review because you know the H330 will not satisfy you.

Also, people who want to keep their Palms in their shirt pockets. The H330 is fully loaded and carries the size and heft that entails. I can assure you it is pants pocket size but you'll never slip it into your shirt pocket as you leave the house. Not without people staring at you, anyway..

In short, if you are happy with your III series or Visor solo and want a nice upgrade, you'll love the H330. On the other hand, if you can't imagine using anything larger than your V series, the H330 isn't for you.

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Great review, Ed

mikecane @ 5/21/2001 10:09:01 AM #
I look forward to your inevitable Part Two, wherein you will describe how various apps work on the H330.

This is a terrific machine that Palm itself should have produced at least two years ago. Maybe now, with all their financial woes, they will finally consider this point of view.

As for me, I now would like to have color, so I'm waiting to see the Sony CLIE N710C.

But good luck and great sales to HandEra! They deserve the success they have for this fine piece of engineering.

RE: Great review, Ed
atrizzah @ 5/22/2001 5:32:36 PM #
I agree. This is a very complete review. Probably, the most complete I've seen for any Palm device. I think I'll buy the HandEra, even though it doesn't fit all of my desires. However, none of the current PDA's fit all of my desires. My dream PDA:

-Start with a HandEra 330
-Change the screen to 320x400 or 420 or something, so that it can use pixel doubling instead of emulation, although emulation works cool
-Give it a m505 type reflective screen. I know a lot of people don't like this, but the HandEra would have unacceptably short battery life otherwise if you're using CF, SD, and the serial port

I still like the 330 a lot, and once again Ed, great review.

Peace Out
Alan

HandEra is screwed
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/24/2001 12:06:11 PM #
Reasons the 330 won't sell to anyone other than a few thousand techno geeks:

1) Ugly case. Why didn't they just keep it simple and use a plain black case like everyone asked for?

2) Monochrome screen. The future has arrived and it's in color. Once peolpe start seeing the new color PDAs like the CLIE N710C, not many of us will be willing to accept monochrome. Color is one of those things that you don't realize how much you want until you get it.

3) Potential problems with scaling. Why would any developer bother to recode their apps to support a PDA that is only going to sell a few thousand units? Not being able to use an application like, say, DateBk4 is reason enough for a lot of people to bypass the HandEra 330.

4) No user-accessible FlashRAM. It's ironic that the company that makes FlashPro and FlashPack was too cheap to bother providing enough Flash to allow users to store programs in Flash memory.

5) Size. This PDA is just too big for many people to comfortably carry.

They should have listened to the members of the TRGPro Users Group on Yahoo Groups that have been saying for months what would have made a PDA that would sell.


RE: Great review, Ed
mikecane @ 5/24/2001 12:43:09 PM #
You are being too harsh on HandEra.

Sure color is nice, but at $449-$500-plus dollars! The HandEra is quite less expensive.

The FlashRAM makes no sense with having two slots for storage! Why use internal Flash with two types of storage? This makes no sense.

The H330 will be sold in Office Depot, I understand, which gives it the kind of push and visibility the TRGPro never had (yet deserved).

I think it will sell very well.

RE: HandEra is screwed
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/24/2001 2:01:57 PM #
I don't think you realize, but HandEra has just created a PDA without much of a market.
The 330 will appeal to a few engineering types only.

Strike 1: TRG's previous medical customers won't be caught dead with such an
unprofessional-appearing device no matter how much you might want them to succeed.

Strike 2: Their previous vertical market (sales) customers are going to find there are
several cheaper, more rugged alternatives to the HandEra 330. ($150 m105s are a lot
easier to sell to a company than fragile $300 HandEra 330s.)

Strike 3: Even if they started selling 330s in your local corner store, they lack the ability to
appeal to the typical PDA buyer. Do you really think that Joe Schmoe cares that they have
both SD and CF cards? Or would they prefer a small, cool-looking PDA or a handheld with a
nice color screen? Guess.

Battery technology has already reached the point that a single charge can provide color
devices with over 10 hours of runtime. Not many users really need more battery life than
that. People who claim that the 20 - 30 hour runtimes of monchrome PDAs are essential
to most users just aren't living in the real world.

HandEra will sell a few PDAs over the next 2 or 3 months, as former TRGPro owners upgrade
to the 330. Fluff reviews like this one may convince a couple hundred other people to take
the plunge. But once real people start seeing the PDAs in action in the REAL world, (how most
PDA sales happen)you'll see what a big mistake HandEra made when finalizing the 330's
feature set.

I like HandEra, and even bought one of the first TRGPros they ever sold. I watched them
make a series of pathetic attempts to market the TRGPro to regular consumers, insisting
all the while that they didn't need to sell to consumers, because their primary focus was
the vertical market. Little did they realize how quickly their precious vertical market could
disappear. It's sad to see bad management decisions wreck a good company.

I've seen all of the Palm OS PDAs that will be released this year, including the new Handsprings
and Palm's VIIx successor. I am putting my money on Sony and Handspring. I would not be
surprised to see Palm bought out in the next 6 months and HandEra may end up going under
due to their stubborn refusal to accept what the market demands. "Cool" features like a fancy
new screen are useless if they end up bankrupting your company. Ask people who know the
industry what their HONEST opinion is of the 330 and you'll hear: it's a well engineered PDA,
but no-one expects anyone to actually buy them. HandEra is so small that they will be unable to
get a color model out before Spring, 2002, and by then it will be too late. HandEra should have
done some usability clinics and hired an industrial designer before they relaed this engineering
project-cum-PDA.

How long will HandEra survive?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/24/2001 2:43:06 PM #
Sad but true.

I can't believe they didn't at least use a plain black case. This thing looks like it was designed by a pocket
protector-wearing dorky engineer.

You people are idiots
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/9/2001 11:41:15 PM #
Give me a break. "HE is going to be bought out." Do you know how stupid you sound?

1) The HE330 has tons of features that have NEVER BEFORE BEEN AVAILABLE IN A PALM OS DEVICE. Read that again. Features that should have been there before, like virtual graffiti and high resolution.

2) The HE grabs the attention of people who want solid features and also must have Palm OS. People who want expansion. People who have $ invested in Palm III addons. etc etc. So much attention that HE is having trouble filling all the orders.

3) Color, color, color (shut up already!) GOOD color (not m505 color) is expensive, shortens battery life, and makes for a huge sized PDA. Those are just the facts of our time. Until technolgy makes a super-small color screen with little power draw, companies hands are forced. Do they alienate their business customers by going with expensive color screens, or do they go with existing technology?

4) Yes, the HE is ugly, but it's not really hat bad in person. I'm not "revolted", as people would like you to think, by looking at my HE. Actually, for the people pushing for all black, you have to be crazy. It's the black plastic that looks bad, not the crome. The crome is not as slick as the silver Visor Edge, but it's damn close.

Anyway, if you're damning the 330 just for it's formfactor, you don't understand the legions who want the 330's feature set.

Good Job

fkclo @ 5/21/2001 10:15:13 AM #
This is the best review I ever read on the Handera 330. Good Job. Ed.

What I will miss most is a list of how various apps perform on the H330. I can tell all would-be buyers of H330 will be keen to know about this.

No doubt the H330 offers the best value of money, not to mention the investment I would save in all the peripherals. It is really an outstanding engineering piece of work. But I am quite disappointed to note that the Li-ion battery would be available at the same time the units ship. For us outside USA, this will mean double shipment cost and long wait. Besides, we would be keen to know if the AC supply is 110V/240V compatible. I read from one note relaying a reply from Handera's that it is, but a confirmation will be grateful here.

Any idea when part II will be available ?

Francis Lo
Hong Kong

What happens when......

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 10:52:56 AM #
You run an application that isn't 320x240 and the silkscreen graffiti area is off?

RE: What happens when......
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 11:19:21 AM #
it leaves a bvlank white space!

RE: What happens when......
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 11:23:06 AM #
You get a blank area where the grafitti area would be.

Very comprehensive review

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 12:14:06 PM #
Great review. Ed surely knows his craft. Very objective and cover all bases. Now, what we need is a review of the new Clie and a comparison of the m500 and m505.

RE: Very comprehensive review
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 1:09:31 PM #
Comparison of the m500 and m505? OK: m500: monochrome. M505:colour. Is that comprehensive enough for you?

RE: Very comprehensive review
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 1:21:44 PM #
The comprehensive review refers to the Handera 330. There's no review for the m500, and while the m505 reviews takes care of most features, there are difference like battery life and screen quality (in comparison to previous monochrome Palm).

USB anytime soon?

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 12:26:31 PM #
Will HandEra offer a USB option for the 330 sometime in the future?

RE: USB anytime soon?
Ed @ 5/21/2001 2:23:55 PM #
If they did I think it would be a terrible mistake. This is decision made based on their target market: business users. Many companies are far behind consumers when it comes to technology and the business world is full of computers with no USB support. This includes all computers that run Windows NT and the USB support in Windows 95 is questionable.

HandEra simply couldn't ignore a good portion of their potential market. This is especially true when considering that USB doesn't add any additional capabilities over a serial connection besides speed of HotSyncing.

Also, adding USB would have required them to redesign the serial port, which would have removed one of the 330's most useful features: its backwards hardware compatibility. The device can use all clip-on peripherals designed for its predecessor, the TRGpro and the Palm III series. For companies that have already invested in large amounts of expensive equipment, like wireless modems, this can be a major selling point. This can also be a selling point for consumers who would like to keep their investment in III series peripherals and were irritated by Palm's abandonment of the Palm III form factor.

Notice that a large number of other comments here are about whether the H330 will work with this or that III series peripheral.

Maybe someday they'll move to USB, but only when it gets more firmly entrenched into corporate America.

---
News Editor
Palm Infocenter

Could it use Palm's USB cradle?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 4:06:37 PM #
After all, it keeps the Palm III connector, so it should work with the USB cradle designed for that connector.

It wouldn't be much of a speed gain, but if you're a Mac user...

Jon Acheson

RE: USB anytime soon?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/22/2001 10:41:06 AM #
According to HandEra support, the 330 is "as compatible with Macintosh as any Palm handheld. You just need the Mac version of the Palm Desktop software, and a USB adapter for the serial cradle. Both are prepackaged as a kit called the Mac Pack, available at most computer stores or at www.palm.com."

So it looks like the 330 can speak USB (after a fashion).

Chris Jones

RE: USB anytime soon?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/29/2001 9:54:05 PM #
"USB doesn't add any additional capabilities over a serial connection besides speed of HotSyncing."

Hmm, don't forget that USB devices are much easier to configure for people who don't know anything about serial and COM ports.



RE: USB anytime soon?
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/29/2001 10:31:53 PM #
and serial and COM ports are easier for people to configure who know nothing about USB ports

Voice Recorder Format

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 12:39:57 PM #
Does the Voice Recorder use a standard format or is it a proprietary one? Also is the quality good enough to feed into a recognition program like Via Voice or Dragon Dictate?

RE: Voice Recorder Format
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 1:08:41 PM #
It uses wav files recorded at 8kbps mono.

RE: Voice Recorder Format
Ed @ 5/21/2001 2:34:12 PM #
According to HandEra you can even make .wav files on your PC and move them onto the H330 and play them there, though I haven't tried this because I don't see a lot of reason for it.

Also, I've heard that playback on the H330 is supposed to be good enough to use with voice recognition software but I don't have any to try it with.

---
News Editor
Palm Infocenter

RE: Voice Recorder Format
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/22/2001 4:55:27 AM #
The processor on the 330 isn't powerful enough for voice recognition software.

RE: Voice Recorder Format
dstrauss @ 5/22/2001 8:47:44 AM #
I think what the writer was talking about was recording a voice message in wave format that could then be transferred to the desktop for recognition. The handheld dictation units that were available for Dragon Dictate worked this way. You just need to have an adequate sampling rate for it to work.

RE: Voice Recorder Format
GrouchoMarx @ 5/22/2001 3:33:26 PM #
I have tried playing wav files from the desktop on my 330, and they work fine as long as they are in the right format (8-bit mono). No, it's not going to replace an mp3 player, and it's of limited usefulness. But you can do it just fine. I personally have a copy of Little Fugue in G Minor on my CF card, for the sole purpose of showing off when I'm showing my 330 to a new person. :-)

--GrouchoMarx

RE: Voice Recorder Format
JET8810 @ 5/23/2001 7:57:54 PM #
ok..how do u know what format a .wav file is in? Also, what programs can decrease the format so it is compatible with the handera? Lastly, does anyone know of some good programs that convert mp3 to wav?

RE: Voice Recorder Format
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/6/2001 7:06:17 AM #
Music Match (FREE) is a great program and will convert wav's into mp3, voice sounds pretty good at 32 kbps, which means a typical voice track will compress down to almost nothing!

Cheers,
Halfmoon

PS: [my 2 cts worth]

Personally, I love the HE's frankenstein approach, and the sound feature does 10x more me than color!

All you people talking about color and sexy cases must be MAC users. Get over it!

And all you people complaining about size, have you looked at one of those dumb Visor's?? Talk about big and UGLY! Not to mention a proprietary (insert "expensive") Springboard.... Give me a break!

RE: Voice Recorder Format
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/3/2001 10:20:10 AM #
i m trying to record a wave file using handera330 emulator on palm OS first of all wether its possible to do so if yes pl can anyone tell me the way to do this and then seconly how to play the wave file.
is there any tool for that if any.tahnkx in advance

venkatesh


compatibility

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 12:50:18 PM #
questions come to mind:

- Only 2 MB may not take full advantage of OS 4 which the m505 has 4 MB if I am not wrong. This probably means no USB support.
- Handera reply to my email and said that the PalmPix camera from Kodak will work only AFTER the folks at Kodak ugrade their driver, as of now, they will fit (form factor of Palm III) but WILL NOT work. Can some of the readers please write/email Kodak and ask them to upgrade the drivers please, if you're using PalmPix.

Gracias mucho.

RE: compatibility
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 2:53:11 PM #

In this review, Ed said the Palm Pix camera works fine.

RE: PalmPix
Ed @ 5/21/2001 3:05:20 PM #
In this review, Ed lied through his teeth. I'm afraid I've been caught being slack. I never actually took any pictures with my PalmPix camera before I added something about it to the article. I attached the camera and installed the software and everything seemed to be fine, then I went off on another tangent without taking the final step.

Since reading this comment, I've actually tried and this person is completely correct, there is some incompatibility that makes taking pictures impossible. I've since removed any reference from the article and I apologize for my slackness. Thanks to the original poster for not raking me across the coals as I deserved.

I've also sent an e-mail about this to my contact at Kodak. When I hear back from her, I'll let you know.

---
News Editor
Palm Infocenter

RE: compatibility
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 3:05:50 PM #

It would be nice though if all the PalmPix owners could pester Kodak to come out with a version of their software that takes advantage of the high res screen and possibly other features.

One thing I would love with my PalmPix is an audible alert that goes off just prior to taking a time delayed photo. This would work even better with the Handera's speaker.

RE: compatibility
GrouchoMarx @ 5/22/2001 12:25:09 AM #
Ed was only half-lying. :-) The PalmPix app is one of those programs that draws directly to the screen rather than using the API. The HandEra intercepts the API calls, but can't intercept direct hardware calls in software. (The PEG-710C intercepts them in extra hardware, one reason it costs more.) So the preview window and the display of saved pictures looks like a blob of mud at the top of the screen. The actual functionality, however, is fine. You can still take pictures and download them to your desktop, you just can't see what it is you're taking a picture of right away. It's a software issue, not hardware.

I just tried it myself on my 330 and PalmPix, and the picture came through fine.

--GrouchoMarx

RE: compatibility
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/22/2001 8:49:29 AM #
Thats nice to know. but a palmpix app made just for the Handera would we sweet.

I just sent a coment to Kodak asking for this.

The link is:
http://www.kodak.com/cgi-bin/contact.cgi

If anyone owns a PalmPix III and is planning on buying a H330, could we all send a note to Kodak to help speed up the process and ensure that it happens.

even if you don't plan on buying one, you could help those of us out that do ;)

RE: compatibility
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/13/2001 3:38:07 PM #
I just sent a comment to Kodak. Anyone received a reply?


Great review...more questions

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2001 1:19:38 PM #
Thanks for the thorough review, and I look forward to part 2.

Now I need to decide between the 330 and a Visor Platinum or maybe a Color Sony Clie.

I'm currently using a Vx with an Omnisky but I'm looking for some of the features that the 330 is offering: voice recording, better resolution and expansion capabilities.

I tried the 505 but I took it back. For a few reasons. 1- The screen worked ok, but it just wasn't what I thought it would be. I understand the need to balance brilliant color and battery life...It's right for some people (a friend of mine LOVES it) and not for others. 2- No accessories. Suddenly my keyboard, travel unit, and OmniSky became worthless. 3- My battery was at about 1/2 after two days of steady use. Maybe that would have tapered off after the initial novelty wore off, or maybe it wouldn't?

I have a III series keyboard and travel sync cable so the only thing I'd have to figure out is how to supplement my OmniSky fix.

So, I have a couple of hardware questions:

Does anyone know if the Minstrel for the III series will work with the 330?
Does anyone know if the Socket Solutions cellular modem adapter will work in the 330?

If I had a 330 this is some of the software that I would want test:

DateBk3/4
Listmaker
AvantGo
BugMe
iSilo
ThinkDB

I wonder if we could substitute the regular keyboard for a virtual Fitaly keypad?


RE: Great review...more questions
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/22/2001 10:41:49 AM #
I have found that the vast majority of programs work okay on the HandEra, the ones that don't tend to be graphical in nature. Most are games, or programs like TealPaint or TinyViewer. Some surprised me, like Image/Fire Viewer which worked great! HanDBase and ThinkDB work fine as does iSilo. DateBK4 works pretty well, the icons tend to look kind of dark, and the buttons for the different views come up blank. Neither is a big enough issue to bother me.

RE: Great review...more questions
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/22/2001 12:45:55 PM #
hey, U should get the Handera if color is not an issue and u want to save money, or the clie if u want color and MP3s

Great Ideas

altema @ 5/21/2001 2:12:46 PM #
I had a chance to get my hands on this machine at our recent Detroit PUG meeting, and I must say that the screen resolution is breathtaking. This device incorporates many features that should have been implemented before now, but I don't think any one else was bold enough to mess with things like standard resolution. As far as color is concerned, the color is not the heavy drain on the batteries, it's the associated backlight which puts on the biggest drain. This is why Palm designed the M505 with a reflective screen instead of a backlit screen. You can get the color without any of the perceived battery drain problems. Unfortunately, people are bypassing this feature and putting in the usual hack so that the backlight (actually a sidelight) is on all the time. BTW, a Palm IIIc will outlast some greyscale models with the backlight set to modest levels. It's usually when we crank them up brighter than our CRT monitors that the batteries begin to suffer. Even with brightness set to minimum, readability is as good as my greyscale Palm. And before you fire off that snappy retort, yes, I can read it in direct sunlight.

Keep up the great work HandEra!

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