Wireless Treo Models Have Flash ROM

Despite the fact that Handspring has never advertised it, TreoCentral and Brayder Technologies have discovered that all the wireless Treo models have 4 MB of Flash ROM in addition to the 2 MB of Flash ROM for the radio. This means that the operating system on these smartphones can be updated and they will work with apps that allow users to store additional files in the ROM.

Earlier this year, Handspring released an update for the Treo 180 and 180g but it was assumed at the time that it used the radio's 2 MB of Flash ROM. According to TreoCentral, this isn't the case. That update actually reflashed the entire 4 MB ROM.

In addition to allowing the OS to be updated, owners of wireless Treo models can use their Flash ROM for additional storage, handy for models with no expansion memory. Brayder Technologies is close to releasing versions of JackSprat and JackFlash that work with the Treo 180, 180g, and 270.

The Treo 90, which isn't wireless, doesn't have Flash ROM.

TreoCentral goes on the explore possible theories on why Handspring doesn't advertise that these models have Flash ROM. One theory is that, when Handspring is convinced that they have worked all the bugs out of the Treo's operating system and applications, it will switch to non-flashable ROMs, which cost less. Not advertising that the Treo models ever had Flash ROM will make this much easier.

Thanks to Michael Ducker from TreoCentral.com for the tip. -Ed

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Amazing

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 9:43:37 AM #
Handspring forces keyboards down our throats, telling us this is what we really want, but we are too stupid to realize this yet, but don't include Flash ROM in their products in order to save a couple of bucks.

Everyone I know that has a PDA with Flash ROM makes good use of it. Handspring, We want devices with Flash ROM.

RE: Amazing
mtg101 @ 7/15/2002 9:53:00 AM #
Ever considered reading articles before commenting?

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russ@russb.fsnet.co.uk
RE: Amazing
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 10:06:42 AM #
Because he's either talking about the Treo 90, or likely correctly assuming that Handspring will switch to non-flashable ROM at some point soon (also mentioned in the article).
RE: Amazing
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 10:07:18 AM #
..."One theory is that, when Handspring is convinced that they have worked all the bugs out of the Treo's operating system and applications, it will switch to non-flashable ROMs, which cost less. Not advertising that the Treo models ever had Flash ROM will make this much easier. "

Sounds like Handspring is trying to be sneaky to me. They are trying to save a couple of $$$ per unit, and not offer the added value of Flash ROM to the consumer.

RE: Amazing
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 10:12:00 AM #
And this is new how?

HandSpring always says their units do not have flash rom. They do this for a very good reason: It's Cheaper. No, I'm not talking about the price of a 4mb flash chip, I'm talking about the price of producing flashable OS updates and distributing them. If the device doesn't have flash rom, there is no need to produce those updates. Simple as that.

Early m100s had flash rom as well, but Palm protected the ROM so that utilities like JackFlash and FlashPro would not work on it.

If you're in a hurry to get to market, it makes sense to use flash rom so you can hold off on flashing the final OS until the last possible second. This way you don't have to produce a million mask rom parts and delay shipping. At some later point you can switch to mask rom and not worry, since you told people upfront there was no flash.

RE: Amazing
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:48:26 AM #
Don't forget the support costs to Handspring as well. People who are not very savvy are going to call asking how to flash their ROM..or even worse..how to get back the apps they deleted.
RE: Amazing
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 4:02:42 PM #
Forcing them down your throat? The Treo 180g has graffiti. So does almost every other Palm OS device. As for the stupid part, well...

100% used

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 10:30:03 AM #
On Treacentral I read that the flash-rom appears to be nearly 100% used, so it is nice to have flash-romn, but you can't really use it.
RE: 100% used
GregGaub @ 7/15/2002 11:26:23 AM #
Even if that's true, JackSprat would allow the user to remove apps in ROM that he never uses, or has replaced with better apps and put some of THOSE into ROM. I'm definitely going to check it out when they release it.

-- SeaPUG: http://www.seapug.com --
100% used
Palm_Otaku @ 7/15/2002 3:11:25 PM #
Some of the overhead baggage is the extra languages support, so it'll be possible to free up a usable amount of space.

What I find very interesting is that HandSpring published the "Treo Product Technical Specification and Development Guide" for developers and in it they state:
Table 6 - Treo Physical Characteristics Internal Memory: 4MB Masked ROM; 16MB SDRAM

This makes me think that the "use flash initially and move to mask later" theory is probably correct. It's also interesting that there were some Platinums and Prisms that shipped with flash.

Who needs it anyway?

atrizzah @ 7/15/2002 10:47:40 AM #
I don't see what the big deal is with Flash ROM. Sure I used mine when I had a IIIxe, but that Palm wasn't expandable. You can get an 8MB SD for like $10 if you need the extra memory that badly.

As far as OS upgrades, you can just patch it. Sure this takes up a little RAM, but it's really not that big of a deal. Truth is, the average consumer doesn't care at all what type of ROM is in his unit, so if HandSpring can cut their prices by putting in an unflashable ROM, more power to them.

Peace Out
Alan

RE: Built-in toilet
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:11:33 PM #
"...As far as OS upgrades, you can just patch it. Sure this takes up a little RAM, but it's really not that big of a deal. Truth is, the average consumer doesn't care at all what type of ROM is in his unit, so if HandSpring can cut their prices by putting in an unflashable ROM, more power to them...."


You are 100% correct.

You are 100% guaranteed to have an impossible time convincing the Uber-Users on this board of that.

Remember, if Palm is to dominante the market, the must release a PDA that affords you the ability to watch Star Wars, plus has a mini-lightsaber in case you have kill any annoying co-workers. Also, it must have bluetooth, 802.11b, solar power, toilet, and must double as a protein bar.

RE: Who needs it anyway?
Altema @ 7/15/2002 1:16:49 PM #
"must double as a protein bar"

What? I thought that little black thing that popped out of the top of my Palm was the protein bar! SD stands for Special Diet, right? No wonder it was kind of tough to chew...

RE: Who needs it anyway?
Altema @ 7/15/2002 1:29:30 PM #
Good point Alan about not really being necessary for storage. I would have almost killed for an extra 8Mb back when I had the IIIc. Even though my current device has 16Mb RAM with a 128Mb card, I did find a good use for the ROM with JackFlash, and that is to keep my key apps where they can survive a hard reset AND the card getting lost. Never lost a card yet, thankfully.

I ran into a situation a few weeks ago where a file was corrupted by a third party app. McFile does not give you the option of skipping one file when doing a restore, I was on the road, and the file was corrupted on the backup also. FileZ was in ROM, so I used it to delete the bad file from the McFile folder, then did a hard reset and a restore. I was back up and running in a few minutes without going back to my desktop. This was a rare event, but I would have had to go home otherwise...

RE: Who needs it anyway?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:34:15 PM #
No, it was my understanding that SD slot was "Snack Dispenser slot."

The tough wafers come out fine, but I'm still working on the drinks. I keep saying "Earl Grey, hot..." but nothing. I even poured some into it so it could get a sample. I think we're making progress. It seems to be working hard processing the request because the display is currently unresponsive.

RE: Who needs it anyway?
Altema @ 7/15/2002 1:51:23 PM #
"It seems to be working hard processing the request because the display is currently unresponsive."

Make sure it's fully charged before you pour in the sample. I did, and I can hear the sizzling sound of the brew mechanism now. Hmm, does over-clocking affect the flavor?


(note: this is humor, do not try at home)

RE: Who needs it anyway?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 2:15:09 PM #
People who take their Palm seriously.
There are quite a few critical applications that I put into FlashROM for my users, so that it can survive a battery drain, I like that, and our company buys devices based on what I suggest (which is what I like). If companies want to sell to individuals then they can cut out like FlashROM and add non-work related features like a gamepad or mp3 palyer, but if they want the geeks in the IT department to recommend a device, the geeks will pick something that has an edge over the others or makes their lives easier to support, and that includes feature like FlashROM, that the average user may not know about or care about, but that will sell the device to companies because the geeks in IT recommend it.
I specifically did NOT recommend the TREO, because it did not have FlashROM, so HandSpring lost sales there, now that I know, I may begin to look more seriously into their product.

Thanks for the info on FlashROM, I did not know this, good work!

RE: Who needs it anyway?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 4:59:42 PM #
I am an IS manager in charge of sales force automation. I have deployed hundreds of Palm devices in the field and have never given a second thought to FlashROM. It simply is not a vital feature. To be clear, it is nice to have as it can save a user in battery drain situations and during hard resets. However, the truth of the matter is that an SD card and back-up program can be accomplish the same things.

FlashRom is a nice perk but should not be, considering that most of these devices now utilize some sort of external memory system, a major issue when deciding on a Palm OS device.

RE: Who needs it anyway?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 6:47:39 PM #
> the truth of the matter is that an SD card and back-up
> program can be accomplish the same things.

The Treos (other than the 90) don't have SD or any other slot either.

Flash ROM is useful in IT departments because you can actually configure the devices with the software you want them to have. It's not just a geek thing.

To: the guy who used filez to delete one corrupted file
drw @ 7/15/2002 10:34:58 PM #
Isn't there any other way you could have accomplished same w/o utilizing flash rom? What if you had filez an another SD disk write protected. Could you have done the hard reset, copy over filez, delete the corrupted file, then done the restore?

David in Pflugerville, TX
RE: Who needs it anyway?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:00:07 PM #
>FlashRom is a nice perk but should not be, considering that most of these devices now utilize some sort of external memory system, a major issue when deciding on a Palm OS device.

Agreed, if SD memory is on the device, but FlashROM can be added for alot less and is always available even when the device has a slot but is occupied by another add-on such as a bluetooth card. I don't particularly like swapping cards. I just don't see an advantage of not including it. I think it becomes a major issue when a slot it not available.


>Flash ROM is useful in IT departments because you can actually configure the devices with the software you want them to have. .

Bang on!

>It's not just a geek thing

Your right, the average user would not even know he is using an application that the geek in IT installed for him. Its transparent to the user, no need to swap cards.

Didn't this go without saying?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:19:51 AM #
You are able to upgrade from GPS to GPRS via software upgrade that would have to mean a flash rom.
RE: Didn't this go without saying?
Ed @ 7/15/2002 11:33:34 AM #
We've known since the release of the first Treos that they had 2 MB of Flash ROM for the radio. This is what will be used for the GPRS upgrade. This isn't the same as the operating system being stored in a 4 MB Flash ROM.

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News Editor
RE: Didn't this go without saying?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:58:42 AM #
An upgrade from a Global Positioning System to General Packet Radio Service .... cooooool.
RE: Didn't this go without saying?
Ed @ 7/15/2002 12:08:29 PM #
We all knew what he was talking about. There are so many TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) floating around that occasional slip-ups are inevitable.

---
News Editor
RE: Didn't this go without saying?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:40:17 PM #
Well he's still a little confused though. You don't upgrade from GSM to GPRS. You upgrade the radio firmware to *add* GPRS data abilities. It's still a GSM phone.

Maybe this means they're writing their own OS?

I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:38:45 AM #
In a Red Herring article some time ago Jeff Hawkins was asked if HS would ever release their own OS, and he didn't give a flat-out no. I read his answer to suggest that they would if Palm made it hard or impossible for them to continue without control over the PalmOS. Maybe they've decided that time has come, and their preparing for it so as not to infuriate people who just invested hundreds in colour PalmOS Treos?

In any case, I think this is the best news out of HS since the release of the Treo itself. Good show!

RE: Maybe this means they're writing their own OS?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 11:46:53 AM #
I'd say the odds of this are somewhere between zero and none. I remember Jeff's comments too and what he said was if the Palm OS was going down the toilet, Handspring would jump ship. As it dominates the handheld market, Handspring would be insane to give up the Palm OS.

Handspring also doesn't have the money to write a new os.

RE: Maybe this means they're writing their own OS?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 12:29:16 PM #
this could explain why they didn't announce it -- avoid tipping off palm to their plans.
RE: Maybe this means they're writing their own OS?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 1:56:39 PM #
The day they officially announce about writing their own OS, Handspring better also show these 2

1. actually have a working OS, instead of a promise and
2. compatible with major applications

Otherwise, their stock will fall below $1 and be delisted withing the week.

Handspring maybe a rising dot.com star, but they are not THAT good, able to pull such trick. (not to mention their cash reserve is dwindling rather rapidly to pull such fancy endeavor)

RE: Maybe this means they're adding more Keyboard function?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 2:17:16 PM #
Maybe they will use this area to enhance the keyboard usage with the Palm OS for example more "predictive" writing and also improved navigation with the keyboard and jog dial in the Palm OS. I smell a nice upgrade to the Treo 180 and 270 besides the GPRS functions.
RE: Maybe this means they're writing their own OS?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/15/2002 3:00:48 PM #
takes more than a week to delist, even falling below $1; probably 3-6 months at least (afaik)

Treo 90 does or doesn't have flash?

chrish @ 9/17/2002 2:02:40 PM #
When I ran the SDIO update on my Treo 90, it indicated that it was 'updating the flash' or something like that. I took the unit home and did a hotsync and despite expectations, there was no utility in my backup folder that would restore the SDIO ability after a hard reset.

Looks like all signs indicate that my Treo 90 has flash...

RE: Treo 90 does or doesn't have flash?
Ed @ 9/17/2002 2:09:54 PM #
Until now, Handspring has always maintained that the Treo 90 didn't have Flash ROM. However, a Handspring spokesperson confirmed yesterday that it really does and this update will reflash it.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean you can run out and get JackFlash and use it on the treo 90. It will be up to third-party developers to update their apps to take advantage of this.

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News Editor

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