Comments on: A Deeper Look at the HandEra 330

Now that the first rush of excitement is over with the release of the HandEra 330, it is time to take a longer look at some of its features.

The device's 240x320 pixel screen is possibly its most important new feature. Rather than simply use pixel doubling, the 330 takes the raw output an application is sending to the screen and totally reformats it using higher resolution fonts before displaying it. Applications may a require a bit of modification for this to work but it means the same app that runs on a 330 can run on a 160x160 Visor or other Palm.

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Scale-To-Fit Clarification

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 11:11:20 AM #
Just wanted to clarify how Scale-To-Fit mode works.

The HandEra 330 traps all the drawing routines (WinDrawLine(), WinDrawChar(), etc). When an app is in Scale-To-Fit mode, the 330 modifies the parameters sent to these calls.

For example, if an app calls WinDrawLine(10, 10, 20, 20), the 330 converts the parameters to (15, 15, 30, 30) before drawing the line. Also, when an app draws characters, the 330 swaps the font with a crisper font that is 1.5 larger than the original.

You're probably asking yourself what happens with odd coordinates, there's got to be rounding errors. WinDrawLine(15, 15, 31, 31)

The 330 has algorithms that ensure controls, lines, characters etc, line up or touch each other as necessary. It's easy to multiply all parameters by 1.5, but it's tuff to get everything to line up. This is why we say that 95% of the apps will look very good. However, our algorithm is not perfect, that is why some apps will need to be run in 160x160 Centered mode.

Mike Walter

RE: Thanks Mike
Ed @ 4/25/2001 11:30:40 AM #
Mike, I want to say thank for all your assistance helping us understand this really cool new handheld. I wrote this based on the info I could get my hands on but I don't know a tenth of what you do and if I messed anything up, please let me know.

Thanks again! You deserve a bonus from HandEra.

Palm Infocenter

RE: Scale-To-Fit Clarification
Brett @ 4/25/2001 11:57:23 AM #

Awesome technology! What happens to legacy applications (made for 160x160 resolution) when you minimize the graffiti area? In the case of a scrolling application, does it utilize the extra space or is it blank?

RE: Scale-To-Fit Clarification
GrouchoMarx @ 4/25/2001 7:44:17 PM #
Minimizing the graffiti area generates an event that the program can intercept. If it hasn't been coded specifically to notice that the graffiti area has been minimized, then it will simply ignore it and go on running in a 240x240 square area, with a blank space below it.

Incidentally, Almost every program I've tried to use that doesn't draw to the screen buffer directly scales acceptably. I don't have any programs set to run in centered of left mode, just scale to fit. Their algorithm may not be perfect, but it sure comes close. :-)


Incorrect timeconversions?

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 11:54:04 AM #
The timeconversions seem to be incorrect.
If it starts on 25th, 8:30PM (in the evening) EDT (Eastern (NewYork) Daylights Savings time),
it would be Thursday 26th april, at 00:30 (Half past midnight) in the night GMT (or UTC) time.

-- -- Time calculations performed by -- --

Please do correct me if I am wrong here.

RE: Incorrect timeconversions?
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 1:51:45 PM #
GMT time is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Time.


If it's 10 a.m. in New York, it's 3 p.m. in London (or Greenwich, where the time lab is located)

Simple Math and Geography:

3 p.m. --------> 15:00
TZ Difference -> - 5:00
EDT Time ------> 10:00 (am)

RE: Incorrect timeconversions?
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 3:14:11 PM #
Actually, it's only 4 hours difference now that Daylight Savings Time is in effect.

RE: Incorrect timeconversions?
quasar @ 4/25/2001 4:47:59 PM #
Yes, that was my fault. Sorry about that. I was very tired and just thought England = Boston + 5 and didn't think about Daylight Savings time.

The correct informations is:

Log in to #palmchat between 00:30 and 01:15am GMT and be in the channel at 1:30am GMT to be eligible to win.

Good Luck everyone!

Contributing Editor,">Suite101 Palm Computing Devices

Nice work, Ed

mikecane @ 4/25/2001 12:11:44 PM #
It is, right now, the ultimate writer's tool.

RE: Nice work, Ed
Bear @ 5/30/2001 12:03:30 AM #

You note the HandEra as the ultimate writer's tool. Since I do a lot of heavy editing, multiple documents, etc, and since that is an issue for me in selecting a replacement for my present Palm III (which I attempted to dribble and discovered it doesn't bounce all that well), I am curious as to your analysis. My very tentative conclusions, and my technical skills are pretty weak I am afraid, were similar. Thanks.


Screen contrast on 330?

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 12:07:45 PM #
Mike, In your opinion, how would you gauge the contrast of the 330 screen compared to other Palms devices out there? Would you say it's like the III, IIIx, V or m500?


IBM Palm m505 clone?

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 12:48:13 PM #
I know this isn't the right place to post this, but is IBM coming up with a m505 clone? I just saw this at microwarehouse so I was just wondering:

RE: IBM Palm m505 clone?
Ed @ 4/25/2001 3:11:49 PM #
When Palm announced the m500 series, the press release said, "IBM intends to announce and ship new versions of its WorkPad, based on the
m500 series handhelds, in the second quarter. Palm is an OEM for IBM WorkPads."

p.s. To the person whose comments were here: Sorry, your links were so long they were throwing off this entire page and I had to delete them. If you would like to add your comments back in without the very long URLs, it would be great.

Palm Infocenter

RE: IBM Palm m505 clone?
egarrido @ 4/25/2001 4:10:08 PM #
It'll be black no doubt, as this is trademark for IBM to do. I own a Workpad c3, which is absolutely identical to a Palm V except for the color of the casing.

For those of us who want to be different.


Custom HandEra

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 5:46:01 PM #
(Taken from a post yesterday to the TRGPro Users Group. 50 people have already responded that they want to order this custom HandEra.)

A proposal was just made asking if members would be interested in ordering a custom HandEra 330 with a plain black case and 4 MB of FlashRAM. The group has over 1800 members, so I think there's probably a reasonable chance that they could get enough people together to have HandEra make the custom PDA.

If you are interested, their website is at

RE: Custom HandEra
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 4:53:31 AM #
Excellent! This is the configuration I want. (Too bad there's no color screen, though.)

RE: Custom HandEra
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/28/2001 10:36:44 AM #
Nice. This would address 2 of the biggest issues I have with the Handera. Now if only they had added color, this would have been an automatic purchase for me.

Other suggestions:
1) Put in a headphone jack! Why on earth did they leave this out if they're going to include recording capabilities? Very strange.

2) 16 MB of RAM (not essential, but a good option for "power users").

3) WordSmith/MiniCalc would be an even better software bundle. I wouldn't be surprised to see Handspring do this in a few months (you heard it here first).

4) Eventually it needs to get smaller. (The Palm Vx/m50x size is nearly ideal.)

5) Start actually supporting CF peripherals with drivers. For over a year TRG was unable to provide much in the way of drivers and so far, not much has changed.

6) Make sure the screen works with the software that's out there. (I just heard that DateBk4 and Launch 'Em aren't compatible. These are my 2 favorite apps, and I wouldn't use the Handera if either program doesn't work with them.)

RE: Custom HandEra
@ 4/28/2001 11:49:21 AM #
Just wait two months - they won't be even able to *give* away this big, ugly, monochrome "Homermobile".

I heard that insted of a color screen, next year's Handera 550 will come with an electric toothbrush. ;-) Seriously though, Handera looks like they've made the nicest PDA that no-one will buy. They're probably going to get trampled in the mad rush to get the Sony and Palm models.

OK Handera salespeople, repeat after me: "We don't need to sell a lot to be successful; We're really gearing ourselves towards the enterprise market; Our customers don't need color; We feel long battery life is more important than having a color display...:

Visit the Internet Only Palm Users Group Home Page

Pity me!

atrizzah @ 4/25/2001 9:46:14 PM #
I'm soooo disappointed that I wasn't able to win the HandEra. I was 2 #s away

Peace Out
RE: Pity me!
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 10:24:54 PM #
I was ONE number away! I guessed 237 - and one of the first numbers they called was 236. DOH! :) Ah well, close.


I.M. Anonymous @ 4/25/2001 11:26:19 PM #
Is the 330 going to have enough Flash Memory to upgrade to the 4.0 Palm O/S? The M5xx's from Palm have twice as much right?

RE: Flash
quasar @ 4/26/2001 5:17:58 PM #
There is a version of 4.0 that will fit on 2MB ROMs. Remember though that HandEra needs to create its own custom version of 4.0 for the device.

Contributing Editor
Suite101 Palm Computing Devices

Availability in Asia???

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 1:40:08 AM #
I understand the exact availability is not yet out for the US, but does anyone know as of (roughly) what month it might be available in Asia ?

Just aching to get my hands on one...

(I would love to have the custom made one actually, black with 4mb ram.... yeah...)

Congrats Handera for a great product!
Thanks especially to Mike for the additional information, I am sold!

RE: Availability in Asia???
mengshi @ 4/26/2001 6:11:26 AM #
No indication there is a 220V power supply that conform to the British style power plug either.

high rez pics wanted

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 2:19:14 AM #
Some high rez pics of the HandEra 330 would be nice, especially a quicksheet spreadsheet in landscape mode.

(For $50 more, one could get a greyscale iPAQ)

RE: high rez pics wanted
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 6:14:55 AM #
Of course, if you want to expand this iPaq, you'll have to spend extra money for a CF- compatible sleeve/ port... and you'd have one type of expansion available.

The HE 330 comes with two.

The iPaq, s a great machine, but it has its flaws and limitations. The relatively small size for a PPC did come at a cost.

Very tempting

megazone @ 4/26/2001 6:16:41 AM #
I went from a Palm IIIx to a Visor Deluxe shortly after the Deluxe appeared, since my IIIx started acting flaky. At the time I considered the TRG Pro, but it didn't seem as much of a step up as the Visor.

But the 330 looks very nice indeed. I'd love to see a color model, but I haven't been swayed to open my wallet for a Prism or an m505 at this point (and I thought the IIIc's color screen was a joke) so I'm still ok with greyscale. Personally I don't care for the shape of the V/m50x and prefer the shape/size of the III/Visor/330. I have been watching the SDIO developments and the prototype toys, er, I mean accessories that have been shown, and that was a bit tempting - but I'll take a 330 with SD/MMC over an m50x anyday. (Small concern - is the 2MB Flash enough for PalmOS 4.0? I have seen the talk of a 4MB Flash unit, that'd be an interesting direct order option on the Handera website.)

You know what would have sold me, and I bet a lot of other people too, on this in a heartbeat? If they'd extended the sound capabilities to stereo and included a headphone jack. With both CF and SD/MMC slots the 330 is so close to being a kickass PDA/MP3 combo - that kind of capability would put it up there with the new Sony easy - it already has an improved screen (better than the Sony in some ways - soft Grafitti, landscape mode, etc), jog dial, two slots, etc. Even without a dedicated codec you could probably pull it off in software on the 33MHz DB.

I understand why they didn't - not a corporate feature. But if Handera wanted to hit the consumer market I think that would be more of a 'killer app' than color - and it already has twice the battery capacity of other units, it could easily outlast a Visor + Soundsgood or the like. With an integrated codec it could do play/record to stereo MP3 at a high bitrate. It'd sell very well, I believe.

I own three modules for my Visor - a backup module, a GPS receiver (which is really just a geek toy for me), and the Matchbook drive CF memory adaptor. I can do without the toy, and the capabilities of the 330 make the other 2 moot. If I drop my Visor (again) I know what I'll be replacing it with... even if I don't, geek toy lust may do it anyway. :-)

And since I'm posting, I thought I'd toss out a random idea. We've seen units with expansion at the top - CF, SD/MMC, SB, MS - what if the lower rear panel was swappable? USB-serial converters are small and fairly cheap. If the unit were wired with USB it could perhaps be possible to design one with the new Palm 'universal' socket, and a swappable 'classic III series serial' socket. That would maintain backwards compatibility with existing systems and accessories, and provide forwards compatibility with new accessories. From the little I've looked into it, it seems feasible electrically, and at least the idea of a swappable clip is feasible physically. But there may be other physical issues preventing compatibility with accessories.

This is definitely an interesting evolution for PalmOS based PDAs - I think Handera could carve out a nice niche for themselves. I hope they do decide to attack that consumer market, I know I'd open my wallet (if I haven't already, or maybe even then. ;-) ). Well done.

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RE: Very tempting
charles @ 4/26/2001 7:49:59 AM #
HandEra has already responded to the points you note:

1) MP3 playback would require a separate CPU for decoding, since the Dragonball chip is not powerful enough. Indeed, some dedicated MP3 players have as many as 3 processors!

2) Headphone jacks were included and then discarded during the development process after it was found that they were a feature that everybody wanted, but nobody used. Certainly that would be different if Palms could play MP3's without assistance, but that is not the case at present.

In short: Right now, if you want to play MP3's, get an MP3 player. (As I did.)

If you must have a PDA that plays MP3's, get a PPC.

That is just the current state of the industry, based on technological limitations and current cost barriers. I hope it's different next year.

RE: Very tempting
megazone @ 4/26/2001 7:57:46 AM #
Can you point me to the other articles you seem to be referring to - I'm really itnerested in reading more on the development of the 330.

I wasn't sure the DB could handle MP3 - I thought i might, but I guess not then. I wonder what the cost of the guts from an InnoGear MiniJam is. They sell a MiniJam with 32MB of Flash built in for $199, and it also includes a MMC slot and associated HW, controls, the case, etc. If you stripped it all away to just the decoder - leave the controls to SW (and/or remapping the existing buttons when in that mode), memory to the existing CF/SD/MMC slots, etc - I wonder what the component cost and added manufacturing cost would be? $50? $100? I'd easilly pay $400 for a 330 that was also a full MP3 player. Maybe $450. Still less than a PDA + good MP3 player, about the same as a Visor + MiniJam, but MUCH better.

Maybe it isn't really feasible today - but technology marches ever forward, who knows, six months down the road maybe they'll want to go after that consumer market and component costs will have dropped.

I can understand dropping headphone jacks in the current unit - low-fi mono sound is just worse in headphones. :-)

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RE: Very tempting
drac @ 4/26/2001 8:19:28 AM #
Further info on the 330:

If you make enough online noise, and get others to do the same, I see no reason why a CF-slot MP3 addon for the 330 could not be created by some enterprising 3'rd party hardware developer.

Like you, I want the feature. I'm just not as willing as you to pay US$400 for it...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi

d r. a. c h a r l e s

To Color or Not to Color -that is the question
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 8:30:39 AM #
The real question is: Will the screen look good enough to stop someone from buying a color unit? I would have to see the screen before making the choice. Color is a strong determining factor in buying a PDA. Will the P505 color look good enough to buy or will Handera get the business? I would not buy something that is not "Palm Powered."

RE: Very tempting
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 11:43:28 AM #
I have an M505 on pre-order, and I have been very tempted to cancel it and buy the 330 instead. At first I thought "No color?! Serial instead of USB?!" But the high-rez screen, soft-graffiti, landscape mode, cool battery options, CF (ooh, I could get a microdrive!) *and* SD, and killer backlighting are each very strong pro's in favor of the 330. On top of that it's $100 cheaper than the M505. I can get a titanium case for the price difference. The readability of the screen is very important to me, and this unit probably fits the bill.

RE: Very tempting
drac @ 4/26/2001 1:10:48 PM #
I have a major and a minor caveat standing in the way of my purchase of the 330.

1) App compatibility. Given that the "compatibility mode" results in the creation of a tiny 160x160 virtual screen, I'm not too eager to settle for it. If my bread-and-butter apps, in particular Datebk4, don't look good on the 330, I'm not buying.

2) I do so love the idea of that m500 vibrating alarm...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi

d r. a. c h a r l e s

RE: Very tempting
megazone @ 4/26/2001 3:23:30 PM #
I agree about the vibrating alarm, it was one of the tempting features of the m505. But there weren't enough there to make me pay to replace my working Visor Deluxe.

Color is something that's nice to have. If the 330 were color with a vibrating alarm, yeah, I'd probably already have preordered it. As it is my Deluxe is serving me well, so I'll wait until the 330 is in more hands to see how the new features work out. That also gives me time to see what Handspring, Sony, and Palm get up to in the next quarter or so. But if I have to replace my Visor for some reason - right now the 330 is first in line.

As for a CF MP3 system - I'd rather have it built in, because I'd rather use CF memory for the MP3s than SD/MMC. I'd probably end up buying a microdrive for capacity... I haven't picked up an MP3 player yet because I really want one that can do CF+ Type II media.

Since I prefer the 330s form factor to the m50x the 330 is the equal in most areas - supposedly upgradable to PalmOS 4.0, and with SD support. It lacks the vibrating alarm, USB, color, and little neat things like the LED power button. But USB isn't that big a deal - I'm still using serial myself anyway. I had NT on my desktop at my last job, Linux at my current one (I still haven't bothered syncing to that though). At home the machine I sync with is my oldest PC - a Win95 box I use as my terminal. My newer boxes are Linux and either servers or lab mules to test things on. The vibrating alarm and LED are really just nice to have features.

And it has things the m50x lacks - CF support, jog dial, better sound, audio recording, higher res screen, soft graffiti area, better backlight (and the graffiti area backlights - I've wished for that for a long time, I've used my Visor in some pretty low light conditions), landscape mode - and a lower price.

I think greyscale will be fine in this market for a while, though I don't know about waiting a full year. I rather hope they don't wait another year before refreshing the line - or at least providing some updates. Bringing out a consumer model for xmas would be interesting.

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Oh, one more thing...
megazone @ 4/26/2001 3:45:43 PM #
I forget to mention one of the things I like most about the 330 - the battery options. I've stayed away from units with a built in Li-Ion cell because I know my habits with my Visor, and IIIx before that. I'll sometimes have days of heavy usage, and work long, long hours, and I don't want to have to remember to plug it in (I don't sync at work now - so no cradle and no desire for one), I also like being able to just take it on a trip with no other accessories. I don't want to a charger as a neccessity.

I bought a handful of NiMH AAA cells early on. I keep two in the bag I take to work, there are two in the Visor, and two in/near the charger in my room. If my batteries get low I can swap them any time, and in the worst case I can buy alkalines and keep running. (This has never actually happened, when I go on a longer trip I toss a few cells in my bag. And I tend to use it less on a vacation, etc.)

But I can see the convenience of charging in the cradle, so the optional pack is a nice idea (and a nice way for them to keep the base price of the unit down) *without* locking you into needing a charger - you still have the option of using normal cells.

I love it.

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MP3, Sigh...
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/27/2001 1:39:59 PM #
I feel the same way you do about MP3. The Handera has storage, battery, everything you need except the playback! As it is, I'm probably going to try and repair the digitizer on my Palm III, and wait for next year.

Yes, I could get a Visor and one of the MP3 springboards, or an M105 and the MP3 sled, but both of those solutions leave me cold. Either too bulky, or too limited by storage and battery life.

Jon Acheson

p.s. Megazone, did you enjoy the Moldiver LDs I sold you back at Otakon '95? Long time, no see!

RE: Very tempting
megazone @ 4/30/2001 5:25:47 AM #
Jon -

Hmm, wouldn't be Otakon '95, I didn't go to Otakon until 2K. :-) Maybe KatsuCon, or AX - but I still have the Moldiver LDs. Selling them soon though - it just hit DVD. :-)

Man, I *REALLY* hope TRG decides to hit the consumer market - forget color, MP3s are a killer app. So close, and yet so far... I have to say the Sony Clie looks tempting with ATRAC 3 MS playback - but I expect battery life will suck with that screen, and no landscape, etc because it just squeezes in the pixels. Sure it can do 320x320 - but much smaller. And I like the expansion on the HE330, and the graffiti backlight, etc.


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Color? forget it...

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/26/2001 11:27:25 PM #
I don't know about the Palm IIIc, but I do know about the Visor Prism. I wish I hadn't brought this annoying thing. I can leave the house at 6:00a with a full charge and by noon the battery is down to 40% or less. I do quite a bit of data entry (programming), but this is rediculous. The very second my Handera 330 arrives my Prism is getting the boot. I don't care for color now that I know how much it sucks from the battery. Those who are sooooo desperate for color can deal with me about getting this Prism when I kick it out of the house later next month.

RE: Color? forget it...
I.M. Anonymous @ 5/1/2001 12:32:29 PM #
I'm with you, I've had a PPC with the color and the MP3 capability, and folks, they really aren't all they are cracked up to be. For MP3s. you pretty much need to use the Compact Flash card to store them on, and the combo of that and playing MP3s just sucks batteries dry in no time. I would usually get about an hour with my HP Jornada (with the screen OFF) before it was dead. Lot of good that does you if you are stuck in an airport, or wherever and want some music. Compare that to the play time you get with a dedicated MP3 player. And I personally prefer my little minidisc player that gives me almost 20 hours of playtime!

Same goes for color. Color is indeed awesome and when the day comes that Handera makes a color device that can do all that the 330 does and does NOT need recharging every day, I'll be the first to jump at it. But in the end, color is not worth it to me for the problems it caused. Just trying using a CF modem on a color device, you'll be lucky to get a couple hours of battery life. Lot of good it did me to have a wireless modem card to use with my cell phone when the darn PPC would keep dying on me. No, I'll stick with the greyscale for now, particularly now that the good backlighting is back (thank you Handera so much for this!!!!)

Fools! Look what Palm is Doing!

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/29/2001 6:51:46 PM #
I like everything about the Handera except:

1) lack of a color screen
2) Lack of headphone jacks!

1) Don't whine about Palm's slow pace of innovation, he M505 handheld has something no other PDA I've seen has:

A Color screen that doesn't require a backlight. While this is nothing new, developers seem to be a little slow figuring out that you DO NOT need a backlight to have a color screen! HandEra should have done this! However, the sharp contrast of their screen minimizes the loss..

2) Even though it cannot play Mp3's, a headphone jack would have been more-than-welcome!!! If you're in a crowded area, and you need to listen to messages, it's awkward to listen to them out loud! Not to mention, if I want to play lesser quality music, I would be able to!

Other than that, this is a splendid little device!

RE: Fools! Look what Palm is Doing!
drac @ 5/3/2001 8:28:52 AM #

I like everything about the Handera except:

1) lack of a color screen
2) Lack of headphone jacks!

1) While I am eager to have a colour screen myself, the costs and tradeoffs involved make me refuse one- for now.

2) TRG's (sorry, HandEra's) response to the headphone jack issue was that no-one used them- which I can understand, given that the 330 only supports low-quality mono sound.

When the state of technology can allow proper implementation of these feature (colour and mp3 playback in a Palm V/III form factor with good battery life)I'll be right there.

For now, the HE330 is looking like the best tradeoff.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi

d r. a. c h a r l e s



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