Comments on: Lawsuit Alleges Palms Fry PCs

A lawsuit filed in California says that Palm handhelds can "damage or destroy the motherboards on certain PC brands" when placed in the HotSync cradle, according to an article put out by the Associated Press. The suit doesn't list which models cause this but one of the lawyers involved said, "our investigation has uncovered that it involves more than one (Palm) model and we know it's more than an isolated problem." The law firm also alleges that it affects PCs made by Dell.
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Here we go again

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 7:59:16 AM #
Another lawsuit designed to make the lawyers rich. What else would you expect from the Great State of California - AKA "The Land of Fruits and Nuts"

RE: Here we go again
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/16/2001 3:32:04 PM #
Well, it figures that you'd be anonymous. I don't blame you for trying to cover up your latent freak tendencies.

My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 8:23:56 AM #
It was OK for 1 year with my Palm V. Then I bought my m505 a few months ago. I used the m505 with the Dell for a few months - then last week I had smoke come out of the keyboard area near the 7 key with a horrible burning plastic stink. I wonder if this was what they're talking about? Seems like one heck of a conincidence. I hope there is no connection. p.s. Dell replaced my Notebook for free (it was under warranty)

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 8:40:45 AM #
Anonymous, is that the the same spot on your laptop you spilled your drink. You know liquor and computing don't mix.

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 8:44:23 AM #
What a coincidence! My case was even more dramatic. I had just unpacked my new new M505 when I noticed that burning smell emanating from the Dell in the next room....swear I had not even plugged in the darn thing.

Dells must be allergic to the presence of Palms...LOL!!

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 8:58:09 AM #
I thought I was the only one! I was ordering a Palm m505 on the web and my computer blew up, leaving a smoking crater in my office. This, however, did not happen when I ordered my Vx, which comes with the serial cradle.

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
safron @ 8/9/2001 9:01:40 AM #
Oh yea, well my dell turned into a hideous green monster name Hector-san.. and it's heading for tokyo as we speak to battle Mothra in the last great battle for our universe.

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:17:38 AM #
Hey I have a Dell too, and when I connected my IIIx to it it started shaking violently. I barely got out of the house, as the entire block was turned into a huge smoking crater. And here I thought it was the C4 that I use as insulation for the house and the surge protectors.

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 2:39:48 PM #
I am typing this on my Dell and I haven't had the slightest probl aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RE: My Dell Latitude motherboard got fried last week!
Jonathan_2k1 @ 3/14/2003 10:27:39 AM #
Did you have your problem before or after the Axim X% came out? :-)

I've been working with computers for 1/4 of my life. Beat that.

destroyed motherboard

sapper17 @ 8/9/2001 9:04:24 AM #
The first week I synced my palm 505 it rebooted my computer. After reboot the USB ports did not work. I also could not access any of my drives. After calling tech support at Dell they were able to get my drives back up, but not the USB ports. They had to come out and install a new motherboard. To this day radomly my Palm still reboots my system when I set it in the cradle.

RE: destroyed motherboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:16:21 AM #
Sound like Dell needs to do a little work with their BIOS to better support USB. This message will self destruct 5 seconds after you read it.

RE: destroyed motherboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:22:09 AM #
Why the f**K don't they sue DELL as well. I sync my 505 with a SONY at least 5 times a day....haven't seen any smoke yet !

RE: destroyed motherboard
sapper17 @ 8/9/2001 9:32:44 AM #
I do not see how it is Dells fault when you just set the Palm in the cradle. I didnt even get a chance to hotsync.

RE: destroyed motherboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:41:02 AM #
I agree regarding Dell's lousy design with respect to USB. I have a new DL400 laptop that runs hotter than heck (can't even touch the bottom of it when its running). Dell says this is within spec. Of course, I'd love to read that spec... " 2-a-3-b -> ability to double as waffle iron." Anyway, the USB support stinks and locks up all the time when changing devices, and yes, when putting my Palm in the cradle. The most aggravating thing is that the box blue-screens (w2k-sp2) when I try to disable hotsync manager in the taskbar tray. I sure wish my Palm wasn't so agressive, Carl, and I'm against you making my Palm even more agressive.

Platinum reboots my system
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 11:31:21 PM #
I was forced to give up Win2K on one of my systems because my Visor Platinum rebooted the machine without fail about 2sec into a HotSync. Win98 on the same machine and no problem. So I reverted to Win98 [talk about taking one step forward and three steps back], but now that my Visor was stolen I'm going back to Win2K.

Thank you to whoever stole my Visor, I can now use a stable OS on my machine!

RE: destroyed motherboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/7/2002 11:13:21 AM #
This happened to my Dell last Monday when I tried to connect a Visor handheld via USB (happy friggin' New Year!). Both systems were acquired used, as I am a cheap nerd on a strict budget. Same symptoms: Machine rebooted when I put the Visor in the cradle, now USB ports don't work at all. (At least I still have all other drives, though I had to replace the CD-ROM drive with one I had readily available.) A friend saw an article about the lawsuit in PC Week and pointed me to this site.

Guess I'll have to get a USB card and not sync to the Dell. (Which means I have to hope like hell it doesn't to the same thing to my sturdy old Vaio notebook.) Sigh.


No Problem | Dell Inspiron 8000

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:51:24 AM #
I've got a 1 month old Dell Inspiron 8000 and have no problem sync'ing my m505. I did the initial sync via the USB connection (no problem) and generally do my daily sync's via the IR port.(Although the HP Omnibook three cubes down starts to gurgle every time I turn on my Palm.)

Dell & Edge

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:59:23 AM #
I haven't had the problem with my 505, but my Edge was sending static shocks to my Dell. It fried my Edge instead of the Dell.

it's DELL's fault

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 10:22:51 AM #
The problem is with DELL's computers. They dont properly deal with the static energy, resulting in blackened boards

RE: it's DELL's fault
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2001 11:32:09 AM #
Except that this blew out 9 of my companies Gateway motherboards and a compaq i had at home. Does Dell build computers for these folks as well?

Can't we all just get along?

PalmPowered @ 8/9/2001 11:40:10 AM #
I have a Hewlett Packard PC (all components HP except the monitor, which is a Dell). My system works fine with my new m505 except for the monitor whose picture starts getting wavy and distorted anytime I bring my m505 around. Maybe its PC envy or something....seriously, this whole problems sounds like someone with a bad set of motherboards is looking for a scapegoat and the Palm seemed the way to go. I haven't seen anything like this since my Sports Illustrated Sneaker phone started kicking my Sports Illustrated Football phone around the house. To say that one particular brand of pc is "allergic" to a Palm device is just plain stupid. There are lots of IBM's, HP's, Compaqs, and yes, even Dells out there that have never had a single problem, not to mention the scores of no-name brands that are in people's homes and offices all over the place. Only in America....

Power Up!

Fry them all!

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 1:08:38 PM #
I think everyone involved with this lawsuit is to blame.

(1) Don't people know that static shock hurts when you touch a doorknob? Wouldn't that make people ground themselves?
(2) Palm didn't design the cradle to be hot-swappable, although they knew it would be used that way, and encouraged it.
(3) PC motherboard manufacturers designed faulty ports knowing that they are susceptible to static.

Regarding (2), I think Handspring, Handera, Landware and anyone else who makes a cradle-like device has something to worry about.
I think that even in the PocketPC world there is a problem here.

Regarding (3), in the old days zapping a serial port meant replacing a 1488/1489 chip and everything worked. Today not only does
the port get fried, but the PC does too! Are the MB manufacturers to cheap to build a better port (rhetorical question)?

RE: Fry them all!
aardvarko @ 8/9/2001 4:57:52 PM #
Huh? How can you claim that they didn't intend for it to be hot-swappable?

Having to reboot twice whenever you wish to HotSync would be sheer, rampant idiocy.

webmaster at aardvarko dot com

RE: Fry them all!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 6:31:55 PM #
I didn't say that they didn't INTEND for it to be hot-swappable. I said they didn't DESIGN it to be hot-swappable.
Of course they intended it to be hot-swappable, and encouraged it.

Sue Dell for defamation!

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 1:52:11 PM #
I say we sue Dell for making our handhelds look bad!

-Static killed my eyemodule2

RE: Sue Dell for defamation!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 2:38:20 PM #

I agree!

I came home last night and right on the news was a quick blurb about how Palm devices can potentially fry your computer.

No more details given.

This kind of crap can serioulsy damage Palms reputation.

I have connected to MANY different kinds of computers with no problem. If it is happening on Dell computers, than it is DELL's PROBLEM.

Sue em for the shirts on thier backs!

RE: Sue Dell for defamation!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 2:54:46 PM #
The cradle for the Vx is improperly shielded. In dry weather touching the cradle can cause a static shock that is passed to the computer motherboard. The serial port on my Gateway was fried. I now have to sync with a USB adapter. I also put a surge protector on my hotsync cable (highly recommended). Palm acknowledged the problem and sent me a free USB connect kit. I don't know about the law suit, however, there is a real problem.

RE: Sue Dell for defamation!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 2:57:01 PM #
(writing from a Dell inspiron)
Dell makes the ugliest, unoriginal, other words crap computers. When you have crap, the only way you can sell crap is to offer other stuff and incentives. ( you can't polish a turd)My personal computer is NOT a Dell. this is what they suckered my boss into buying us, so we have to work with them. My Palms sync fine with the computers I use them with, IBM thinkpad, Apple iBook, and 3 different iMacs.
The obvious issue is Dell is at fault. Bring it on, this is not Palm's issue.

Sounds familar
Coyote67 @ 8/9/2001 4:18:48 PM #
I remember reading on slashdot about a guy who's machine, now that I think about it, could have been a dell, was fried because the static shock he got from walking on the carpet with his Vx, burned his mobo out. He said he just put it in the cradle, saw a spark, and his machine just went dead. I must have read this months ago.

OH my god...becky, look at her....Prism.
RE: Sue Dell for defamation!
GregGaub @ 8/9/2001 7:01:21 PM #
That was me. It did happen months ago, and I wrote an article about it whick I posted to my PUG site (seapug). The computer was/is an HP. This is not a "Dell only" problem. It's a problem with any rechargeable palm connecting to a serial port and any computer who's mobo doesn't have adequate (to spec) protection from ESD on the serial ports.

I have a Dell. I have a Palm. No problems here.

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 4:17:55 PM #
I have a two year old Dell and a Palm m500 and I haven't had any problems here. But then again, the cradle is hooked up to a powered hub (two USB ports just isn't enough) so I think I am extra protected from any phantom cooking that may be occurring.

RE: I have a Dell. I have a Palm. No problems here.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 6:51:57 PM #
I had a IIIxe and a Vx at different times. I'm still using the computer that I hooked them up too!

RE: I have a Dell. I have a Palm. No problems here.
Cheetah @ 8/10/2001 8:47:34 PM #
I have a Dell at home and work. My work is full of Dells and alot of people have Palms.

I've setup my V, Vx, and 505 at work and home.

No problem.

I'm not saying this isn't a potential problem, just that it must be rare.

RE: I have a Dell. I have a Palm. No problems here.
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2001 6:10:56 AM #
I have a 2 year old Dell Latitute CPt. Previously, I had a CP. I have been using them with a PalmPilot Professional, a Palm V and now a Palm m505 without any problem, using the serial port and now the USB port, both on the laptops and on the C-dock in my office !
Absolutely no problem !!

my serial ports were fried by Palm Vx

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 9:41:01 PM #
I have a Palm V and it fried my serial port. Previously I had no problems with the Palm III I used for several years. I got no help from Palm, until recently someone at Palm admitted that occasionally the static charge in the hotsync fries the serial port of some Dell computers. My computer is a Dell. One of my employees had the same problem with two of our other Dells. Now I guess we have three Dells with fried Serial ports. Other than the serial port, no other problems. I have now worked around the problem by getting a USB adapter for my cradle and using a free USB port. It is working fine again after months of me beaming bad karma to Palm. My employee only hotsyncs at home now with his IBM,

RE: my serial ports were fried by Palm Vx
ACC @ 8/16/2001 8:36:31 AM #
I had a similar situation but with a different outcome.

Had a palm III that worked great, upgraded to a Vx. It Synced the first time great. The next time it fried the ports on my mother board. I went back and forth with Dell and Palm for two weeks. Both not taking any responsibility in the begining.

In the end Palm sent me an adapter that goes between the Sync cable and the computer to stop static discharge. (no charge) Dell repalced my mother board under warranty at no charge.

RE: my serial ports were fried by Palm Vx
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/23/2001 9:26:32 PM #
I too had my port fried by syncing my Palm V with a Dell. This was last year, and Palm could only recommend that I reload my system software (NT) and when that didn't work they suggested I try again. In the end, they decided it was some sort of system problem (even though it worked fine for quite some time). I resolved it by buying a new parallel port card ($15). Amazing how this only seems to happen to Dell's.

RE: my serial ports were fried by Palm Vx
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/23/2001 9:34:36 PM #
Its a serial port that was replaced...

RE: my serial ports were fried by Palm V
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/9/2001 7:20:37 PM #
I too have had this happen to 2 new DELL computers at my business. I have talked to both Palm & DELL with ea telling me that it was the others problem. Still can't Hotsync. I'm ready to sh..can both of them!

Hope you lot are kidding

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 10:36:02 PM #
I seriously hope you lot are kidding about your PCs being fried by Hotsync. It's like one of those "hey I saw Bigfoot!" thing when someone brave enough speaks up first, then the rest joins in even though it might not be true.

I serioiusly doubt that any hotsyncing activity can cause any sort of heat increase anywhere in the PC, not even the CPU. Ports have their own controllers, be it USB or Serial. These are the chips burdened with the comms. The actual CPU in the PC only co-ordinates the data exchange to and from the ports, but it doesn't handle them directly.

RE: Hope you lot are kidding
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/9/2001 10:59:35 PM #
If serial port activity can fry a motherboard, then how come people on dialup connections never fried theirs?

RE: Hope you lot are kidding
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 8:08:14 AM #
We are not kidding. You can check out the Seapug web site or come and look at my computer. Palm tech support acknowledged the problem and sent me a free USB connect kit. Luckily, only my serial port was fried, not the whole mobo. The Vx cradle is poorly designed. The m500 cradle was redesigned to prevent the static problem. This is not specifically a Dell problem. It happened on my Gateway and I have heard it happened on an HP. If you havwen't had the problem, be thankful, not dismissive of others. I still would put a serial port surge protector on. You have been warned.

I am the original poster with the Dell Latitude and
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 9:20:12 PM #
no I was not kidding. My Dell Latitude motherboard was fried last week - burning plastic smell and slight smoke coming from around the 7 key area. The Dell Latitude was about 1 year old. I used a Palm V with it for that year. I bought the m505 around May (1st day they came out at OD) Everything was fine for those couple months then - poof! I have no idea if it was the m505 or not, but this is one heck of a conincidence. I do not use USB as I'm running Win95. Also, I use a docking station for what it's worth. I sync through the dock serial port.

Cheerios caused my car accident
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2001 1:46:42 PM #
I have been driving to work the same way every day for three years and then I had an accident last week. I started having Cheerios for breakfast in July.

Cheerios caused my accident. I'm calling my lawyer like any dumb American should do.

RE: Hope you lot are kidding
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/24/2001 3:31:25 PM #
If you bought a car and turning the ignition key caused the battery to explode, would you be worried? If after telling the car company it did this, and hundreds of other people did, too and the car company ignored all of them, wouldn't you be concerned? Well, when these palm devices ruin computers and cause thousands in damage and Palm refuses to help fix or acknowledge the problem, the only remaining avenue is a lawsuit. They knew this was coming, as they knew the problem existed and were praying they got the m505 to market first.

Palm loves Dell

Brian A. Saskatoon,Sask. @ 8/10/2001 12:32:07 AM #
I bought myPalm111c in Jan./01.
My Palm has got along with my Dell great. I think the problem is with the 505 and the Dell. Someone should jump on this now, maybe put a warning on the new 505's.
Saying may not be compatible with your computer {Dell}. I would be livid if i just bought my 505. I'm planning on buying one for x-mas,now for sure that's on hold.

No problems at all

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 1:01:22 AM #
I use a Dell desktop and a 505 thru a USB and no problems at all. Works fine and has for months now.

No problems here...

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 1:56:39 AM #
I have a Visor Prism and a Visor Deluxe connected to my home grown PC and I haven't had a single problem ever.

three words to describe this lawsuit

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 3:31:00 AM #

This is not DELL bringing the lawsuit!!!!! RFA!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/10/2001 8:46:43 AM #

This is a weird problem

javacurtis @ 8/10/2001 9:35:12 AM #
I borrowed my dad's Palm Vx a few months ago. I have a Dell Inspiron 4000... it was the only thing I used on my COM port... nothing bad happened though.
Does this problem only happen to people who think their docking station is hotswapable? (e.g. they plugin-out when the PC is still on?)

I really don't understand how this could happen. It's kind of ridiculous I think personally. My pocketPC (Jornada 545) doesn't give me problems (it's USB).

I'm surprised too, because Palm and Dell are both very successful companies. It's silly that such a routine task of docking causes... well... fire. Well at least maybe you could cook a hot dog.

As for that wavy dell monitor? You were joking... right???? :-O


I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2001 1:18:45 PM #
When I first got my palm, the hotsync cradle caused my dell to restart instead of shutdown. Palm sent me a new ac adaptor, and a com port adaptor gizmo, and now it works fine.

Me too

Dee Two-Ewes @ 8/13/2001 11:50:39 AM #
My com port went out on my E-Machines PC, used to hotsynch my Vx. I "solved" the problem with a USB port adapter. I thought it was just a defect with the PC. Maybe not, huh?

Another Fried Serial Port

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2001 2:20:31 PM #
I have a Palm V, using the cradle with an AOPEN computer and my serail ports stopped working after a while due to the Palm. I had to purchase a pci serial card for the computer.

RE: Another Fried Serial Port
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/22/2002 3:40:45 PM #
Happened in my schools this past week. ALL Vx cradles zapped com1 on administrator comps(6 in one building). They have been running around 1 year with no problems. Are we to infer that Palms can only be put in the cradle while the comp s off?? Hope com 2 lasts that long! CA

all is well

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/15/2001 8:31:47 PM #
Palm Pro, IIIx, and now Vx have all worked quite well with two different Dell Dimensions over the last 5 years.

Is this a class action or just a few unlucky lemons?


I.M. Anonymous @ 10/30/2001 8:23:33 PM #
I have a Dell Dimension and a Palm Vx. The Dell is an old friend; the Palm was won back in May 2001.
Never a problem during hot sync--ever--not even any minor glitches. Guess I'll be cautious from now
on and unplug the cradle during hot sync. Don't want to take a chance on damaging my toys, but no
real reason to be wary either, other than all these scare stories.

Palm 505

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/14/2001 3:12:01 PM #
Yes I have had this problem with 2 differnt palms. Palm has told me that It has to do with the USB port drivers. My boss has went back to the palm 5x. Now we have 2 Palm 505's sitting in my office doing nothing.
We have had 3 computers go down with the hoysync. Who do we need to talk to, so that we can fix or get our money back.

PC Tech under the gun

PALM m505? or HPC?
yeek3 @ 11/15/2001 11:57:03 AM #
i need help deciding what to spend my hard earned money on... a palm m505 or an HPC. i know that the hpc's are a little bit more costly but at least they don't have the static usb chip problem right? is there any justification for buying one of these newfound contraptions? i currently use a palm V and i have had the Vx and a Prism. i want to combine the expanibilty and color of the prism with the size of my v. but i need to type reports and such on the run and would like to use a keyboard to do so because i can type on a real keyboard much faster than when i type with grafiti. should i consider buying a something similar to the Vaio picturebook? i know it has the same functionality of a notebook and that is what is so appealing. i also need to connect to my nokia 3360 via infared for mail(and occasionally info on stocks, news etc.). can either of these devices do this? or am i just a hopeful techie?
one more dilema... under 18 so there is a lack of credit card(for omnisky monthly plan) im basically running of off ATT prepaid cellular. somebody pleeaassee help me out here!

thanx a bunch,

ps sorry about the verbosity, i just really needed to get my POV accross

You might think it is BS until it happens to you.

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/20/2001 5:25:40 PM #
I work at a University with a large number of Palm units. The originall gray serial Palm work great. But, there is a definite problem with the new Palm V (rechargable) cradles.

So far the Palm V units have damaged 6 motherboards through static electricity. The com ports become damaged and have to be replaced (since they com port is on the motherboard the whole MB has to be scrapped).

When I called Palm they stated that they haven't even heard of this problem.

Maybe 1 port can go bad or even 2 but not 6 different machines. They range from Gateway machines to custom built Abit units.

This has also happened to a friend of mine who has a Dell (twice).

Yeah Palm - keep your head in the sand and I'll take my business elsewhere.

RE: You might think it is BS until it happens to you.
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 8:26:43 PM #
Its not the palms. I personally work for palm. Its the MB on the machines. Think about it. Most of the MBs that have burnt out, came from Dell. Its cause dell MBs are cheap peices of crap. They cut certain corners to save money. Guess whos winning the law suit? Palm. It all comes down to you get what you paid for.. Save money on the computer, pay more for repairs.

RE: You might think it is BS until it happens to you.
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/18/2002 8:31:11 AM #
It is so easy to blame others. I don't feel this only a Dell issue. I have a client that has blown ports on several different models of pc's. I notice Palm isn't saying that they know XXX PC manufacturer doesn't have a problem with the Palm cradles?? These cradles don't discriminate and eat any type serial port on every time motherboard. WAKE UP PALM and admit you have a problem.

I suffered a damaged port and subsequently a fried computer

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/23/2001 1:33:38 PM #
I have been a faithful Palm Vx owner for almost four years. It was erie for me to read a small excerpt in PC World magazine concerning the law suit and to realize that descriptions of the problems people experienced mimmicked what happened to me and my PC clone.

After several months of using my Palm Vx and Hotsyncing via a direct serial connection, I lost use of the COM port to which the cradle was connected. Though frustrated, I chalked it up to a sub par motherboard and simply plugged the cable in to the next port. A couple of months later, as I sat my Palm Vx into its cradle for a Hotsync, the cradle light dimmed and my Palm went out. I could not turn it back on. After contacting customer support, and having to carry out the dreaded hard reset, I regained function of my Palm. Though I lost everything in it, I drew comfort from having most of my info on my computer, just a Hotsync away, or so I thought. When I went to Hotsync, I found that the COM port, the last functioning one, was no longer functioning. I continued to charge my Palm via the cradle despite my inability to Hotsync. A few weeks later, I came home to find my computer out, never to turn on again. The motherboard had been fried, the hard drive had irreparable damage as did my video card. I lost everything!!! Curious as to the cause and hoping to prevent this from happening again, I had an electrician check the house, I replaced my surge protector, and questioned endlessly the service people who pronounced my PC dead. No definite source of the problem ever arose. Never did I suspect that the damned cradle may have a role in the loss of my computer and worse yet, my data.

How can I get in touch with the Pinnacle Law Group in charge of the lawsuit?

Two Down -- 28 to Go??

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/26/2001 9:10:16 AM #
Last spring I purchased 30 Vx Palms for my school district and attached them to 30 identical PC clones.

In the last weeks 2 machines have had serial ports go -- I worked on one of them. Palm told me they had never heard of the problem and then suggested I switch Com ports.

How long until the other ports/machines go?

Does anyone know how I can contact the
Pinnacle Law Group to tell them my story?

I think for now I will advise all the administrators working on these machines to ground themselves before synching. Any other thoughts?

Topher --

Palms Fry PC's

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/26/2001 4:18:25 PM #
I am not a computer whiz, but I do know that I was only able to sync my computer and Palm V once. I've been frustrated as I am unable to generate a backup of all my data, but I've been living with it. I had noticed that my port was always messed up -- unable to plug in video camera, but I NEVER considered or imagined that my Palm V was responsible until I read the article in PCWorld.....not it all makes sense to me.

Was there a class action suit filed? Does anyone know from where I can get further information?

Thanks, Norma

RE: Palms Fry PC's
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/26/2001 4:33:23 PM #
You can contact Andy August of the Pinnacle Law Group of San Francisco, CA. He is bringing the lawsuit:

Andrew August
Pinnacle Law Group
425 California St # 1800
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 394-5700 Phone

Fried motherboard

George @ 1/21/2002 10:33:02 AM #
I use a Palm Vx. On Thursday, 1-17-02, Dell PC started smoking. I called Dell to report the problem. Dell said that Palm V's are know to cause Dell motherboard to burn if the Palm cradle is connected to the serial port, rather than to the USB port. Mine was connected to the serial port. Is this true?

Additional problems to report: immediately after the motherboard burned, my handheld had a message indicating "fatal error--reset." I had to do a hard reset, thereby losing all data on the handheld. I had everything backed up on my PC, however, now I am unable to HotSync.

I've used Chat technical assistance on 4 separate occasions. Every single time that I tell them that I suspect that the Palm may have burned the motherboard, they disconnect me from the chat. And all of the Palm Customer Service reps that I spoke to refuse to comment on the issue, and refer me to Palm Corporate Headquarters.

Anyone got ideas as to how to proceed? How can I obtain information on the Pinnacle class action suit against Palm for this issue?

Palm IIIe

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/31/2002 1:42:59 PM #
Although I don't have a Palm in the V series, I do have a Palm IIIe. Just for the sake of sharing information, My IIIe has never had a problem syncing. Additionally, I have not noticed any problems with my com ports either.

Just my 2 cents.

Visor Edge / Dell Dimension

Handspringer @ 5/21/2002 11:19:52 AM #
My system has suffered from repeated static discharge-induced blackouts through the USB port. Usually happens when I dock my Visor, but sometimes when I touch it to take it out.
I have checked my electrical outlet (properly grounded) removed a UPS from the system uninstalled/reinstalled/cleaned registry used the Remove Hardware wizard updated Windows 2000 with all the latest drivers. I'll get it working for a day or two, and then get another blackout that renders the USB port useless again.
About ready to punt the organizer and go back to paper.

RE: Visor Edge / Dell Dimension
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/7/2002 4:15:33 PM #
Just had a similar experience....Had no problems with my Dell & Visor Edge Combo until the 1 yr mark, at which it refuses to HotSync, aka the USB works no more....

palm Vx and Dell Dimension

I.M. Anonymous @ 5/21/2002 11:32:22 AM #
All of you who say this combo has worked fine for months, my combo worked fine for 4 months, then dell had to replace com port, then worked fine for 3 more months, now on hold with dell trying to get them to replace again. They just informed me today that there are issues and refered me to the pcworld website that has the article.

Palm V and Gateway

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/11/2002 11:16:33 AM #
We purchased a Palm V and used the serial port to sync. It worked so well we bought another one. Then the serial ports started going out. Be burned out 5 serial ports on three different Gateway computers before we figured out that the Palm Vx sync cradle was the cause. I talked with Palm. They sent me a USB adapter which never worked effectively. They offered to buy back to second Palm Vx which we couldn't use. I sent them the information they requested. Then I called again, and they changed their story. They said the problem was not theirs but with the computer manufacturer, and they refused to do anything about it. I talked with Gateway, and they were very familiar with the problem, and said it was caused by the Palm cradle.

It was pretty clear to me from my conversation with several Palm tech reps that they knew they had a problem, but management had decided not to accept the responsibility for it. The reps were in a difficult spot because there was nothing they could do.

We have learned to use our Palm Vx by not plugging in the charger at the same time the cradle is connected to the serial port. It's very inconvenient because you have to shut down the computer to disconnect the serial connector.

PC Fried

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 9:42:30 AM #
I have a Dell computer and a Palm V. The seriel port was fried. palm would not take responsibility. Who do I contact to be part of the class action suit.

How and why they fry...

m_antoniak @ 5/29/2003 12:53:46 PM #
I know that I'm a little late to this party, but let me see if I can shed some light. I am an electrical engineer and I have designed some products that use the EIA-232 serial port spec.

I just spent a couple of hours looking into this because my boss has an old Palm V that fried his motherboard twice. Another co-worker frequently syncs his palm on her machine and is concerned that when she gets a new machine it will have problems.

A comment a ways back there hit the nail on the head "Palm didn't design the cradle to be hot-swappable".

How do you design something to be hot-swappable (or "Hot plugable")? The first and most important rule is to make sure that you have contact between the ground conductors of the two devices before any other conductors make contact. Look at your USB cables- the whole outside of the connector is ground, while the "hot" signals are up inside. On network equipment that's "hot-pluggable" the ground pins are longer than the signal pins in the backplane connector so that they make the first contact.

Why is this so important? Any two conductors that are not electrically connected will have some voltage potential between them. Any conductor not connected to ground will have some potential relative to ground. This goes for obvious conductors like pieces of metal but also for less obvious ones like the moisture on the surface of a piece of plastic or the moisture in your body.

CMOS semiconductors are very sensitive to voltage. An excessively high voltage across the power and ground of a CMOS IC will destroy it very quickly. An excessive voltage on an input or output pin will also destroy it because the inputs and outputs are connected to the power and ground of the chip using "protection" diodes.

Standard protection diodes can conduct very little current before they are damaged. Making them able to conduct more current requires them to be physically larger, which takes up more area on the die and consequently costs more.

IC's designed as interface drivers for external devices typically have larger protection diodes to allow them to conduct more current without damage. They are rated for the static charge voltage that they can dissipate safely from a human body.

The human body is modeled as a 100pF capacitor discharging through a 1500-ohm resistor. Based on this model, 95% of the charge will be discharged into a "hard" ground within 150 ns.

Most ESD rated devices are classified at one of three levels: 1500 V, 8000 V, or 15000 V, all based on the "HBM" or Human Body Model. At 1500V, you are storing 112.5 micro-joules of energy. At 8 kV, it's 3.2 milli-joules, and at 15 kV it's 11.25 milli-joules.

Although these are not large numbers, they are big enough. At 1.5 kV the initial instantaneous current discharged is 1 Amp. For 8 kV it's over 5 amps, and at 15 kV it's 10 amps. For comparison, a normal 60 watt light bulb draws 0.5 Amps.

So let's say that you are holding a device in your hand such that you are touching the chassis ground on it and you have a static charge of 1000 volts on your body. Lets figure that it is a battery powered device with a power supply voltage and signal voltage of 2.5V.

When you go to plug this device into another piece of electronics that is grounded to earth-ground, there is a potential difference of 1000V between the two devices, and 1002.5 V between the signal outputs and the inputs on the grounded item.

If you first connect the grounds on the two items, the charge will dissipate through a non-destructive path and things should be fine. If you connect the signal lines first, the charge will dissipate through them and things could be very bad. If the device you connect to has 1500V ESD protection, you will probably not hurt it, but it's still possible to hurt the device you were holding in your hand.

If you touch the chassis of your computer first, you are again dissipating the charge through a non-destructive path.

So why are some Palm V's frying some motherboards, some of the time? The EIA-232 (formerly RS-232) standard does not support hot-plugging and does not require ESD protection. This was intended as a method for connecting devices together while they were turned off and leaving them connected for a long time.

Since the DB-9 or DB-25 ports are exposed on the back of the computer, it it common sense that the manufacturer of the computer should incorporate some level of ESD protection into them. I just took a look at a older Micron PC here at work and found that it uses the National Semiconductor DS14185 serial port driver chip, which incorporates 1500V ESD protection (and costs less than 20 cents in volume).

When you connect your Palm cradle to the computer, you are using this port as it was intended, but putting the Palm in the cradle is a different story. The Palm cradle directly connects the serial port to the pins in the cradle. The pins are arranged in a nice neat row in the connector, and mate with the contacts on the back of your Palm.

By placing the Palm in the cradle, you are effectively hot-plugging it into the serial port. Since the contacts are all the same length and position, there is no assurance that the ground will make contact first. (It's on the far right, so it will make contact first some of the time with most users).

Okay, so it's not really a good idea. Howcumb it worked fine with the old models and only really started causeing a fuss with the Palm V?

First, there are reports of this problem with other models, including those from other makers. They are pretty isolated though. There are many more reports of it with the Palm V and Vx. So what's different?

For one thing, the case is different. The Palm V has an aluminum case where all the previous models were plastic. Could this be it? Well, I checked pretty thoroughly and determined that the case is not electrically connected to the circuits inside, so by itself this is not the issue. The case is also finished with a very hard non-conductive material, so I actually had to file off the finish on a corner in order to get a connection to my ohmeter.

What about the battery charger? Yes, there's a battery charger connected to the cradle, but it shares the ground reference of the serial port, so it should not cause a problem. Besides, the Palm IIIc and Palm VII also had chargers and no one is reporting extraordinary problems with either of them.

What else is different? The Palm V is tauted as being exceptionally thin, and it is. As a consequence, it is much easier to make contact with the pads on the hotsync connector during normal handling of the device. All the old plastic case models had a much deeper recess for the hotsync connector, so you were less prone to touching it with your hands or clothing.

So what happens if you touch the contacts? Whatever charge is on your body is shared with your Palm. You don't generally hurt it because it doesn't take much charge transfer to bring it up to the same potential as your body so there's never a lot of current moving.

The problem is that now your Palm's internal "ground" is at hundreds to thousands of volts relative to earth ground. Your PC is grounded to earth ground. You go to put the unit in the cradle and the ground pin makes contact first. Everything's fine. If you go to put it in and another pin make contact first, now you are testing the ESD dissipation of the RS-232 driver in your PC.

Here's an interesting issue: The ESD rating on the driver chip is based on the "Human Body Model", which includes a 100 pF cap and 1500 ohm resistor. The charge stored in your palm will not have the same behavior. I would guess that the capacitance is much less but the resistance will also be much less, so there could be even higher instantaneous current levels even if the total energy stored is much less.

Anyway, in most climates at most times you wouldn't be building up 15kV of static potential, but occasionally you might. More often, it's going to be hundreds of volts. When you connect your Palm and discharge the stored charge in the device into the ESD protection diodes in the driver chip, they can usually handle it. Over time though, they will be degraded by the repeated small discharges, eventually leading to device failure.

Whatever current is discharged has to go somewhere. That somewhere is ground, but the path could be interesting depending on what pin it comes in on. It is easily possible that the discharge current could pass from the RS-232 driver chip to other chips and cause more widespread damage. The CPU chips on the newest computers are far more sensitive to high voltages than anything that's ever been made before, so it doesn't take much to fry them.

What about more recent models of the Palm that are as slim as the V/Vx? If you look at them, they've changed the hotsync connector so that all of the contacts are much smaller and they've added some retaining hooks to the cradle that may also be grounded. The hooks definitely make contact before anything else, so if they are grounded they've fixed the problem. I will investigate this further.

The other big change is the overwhelming predominance of USB connections instead of classic serial. As mentioned before, USB is designed as a hot-plug interface and so has much greater ESD tolerance. Depending on what the circuitry inside the USB cradle is like, there may be a possibility of damaging the cradle, but that's Palm's problem entirely.

And why is it that some people never have a problem but others do, and some have a problem after a year, while others have it much sooner?

Many things go into static charge buildup: The clothes you wear, your shoes, the material on your chair, the floor under you, the humidity in the air, your skin's moisture content. Add the variability in handling the Palm device and and you already have a great range of possible scenarios. And remember that the ESD resistance of the driver in your computer degrades with repeated low-level discharges.

So in summary, Palm designed their handhelds to use the RS-232 interface in a way that it was never designed to be used. It caught up to them in the V/Vx models. They've since changed the designs so that they are less susceptible to the circumstances which lead to catastrophic failures. Some PC motherboards are more susceptible to failures caused by Palms than others, depending on the ESD protection level of the RS-232 drivers used.

Most people are using USB cradles now anyway, so it's going to soon be forgotten.

-Mike Antoniak



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