Comments on: Rumor: m505's USB Problems Explained

Recently, evidence began to surface that m505's have a USB-related problem. Many users have complained that their handheld has suddenly stopped HotSyncing with their USB cradle, though they can still use a serial one. Palm recently admitted to Cnet that this problem exists and said that the company will replace the defective units on a case-by-case basis.

A Level 2 Tech Support person for Palm was willing to give out more information on the condition that his name not be released. The following are his comments in his own words.

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Not to pick on Hal, BUT...

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 8:32:07 AM #
didn't he say "I'm pretty much in the loop on this issue and if there was a replacement deal coming, I would have heard about it."???

Also, I wonder if this issue is indirectly related to my m505 "sudden battery death syndrome"???

RE: Not to pick on Hal, BUT...
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 8:37:34 AM #
Hal from Palmstation has commented on this story, saying, "I've been well within the loop on matters like this with Palm, and if such a recall was in the works, I'm pretty sure I would have heard about it by now."

RE: Not to pick on Hal, BUT...
Ed @ 11/12/2001 8:42:17 AM #
I think Hal was referring to a full formal recall in which Palm would ask every m505 to be returned, whether it has shown the problem or not. Neither this leaked info nor Palm's comment to Cnet indicates that a recall in in the works. Instead, Palm is continuing to do what they have been doing for months; replacing handhelds that are broken on a case-by-case basis. And the ones that are being sent back are apparently the same design as the broken ones, without any change to prevent the USB failure from happening again.

News Editor

What if I get this problem...

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 8:59:36 AM #
...later on, after my warranty is finished? Will Palm replace my m505 then?

RE: What if I get this problem...
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 12:31:40 PM #
Everything in life is negotiable. They might replace it, and they might not. BUT - they can't replace it if they are no longer in business.

Can we put this information to productive use ?

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 9:08:33 AM #
I notice that I get a shock every time I reach for my M505 in it's cradle. Fortuantely my device has not yet fried. The question I have is can anyone think of a way to solve this problem. Even low tech solutions may due. For example I used to work in a arcade and in the winter when static discharges increased we used to spray fabric softener on the carpet which prevented the static discharge. I might try this in my office.

Can the cradle be connected somehow to allow the static discharge to be prevented ?

static cling
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 3:08:40 PM #
back when there was talk of Vx handhelds frying Dell motherboards, somebody suggested doing the same thing you would do if you were going to open your computer up and/or touch a memory chip -- discharge any static buildup you have on a doorknob, or anything else metal you have nearby. This way, you've removed the bulk of the static charge you have on yourself and can reach for you (metal-cased) palm without discharging the static onto that. I'm planning on getting an m505 within the next few weeks, despite all this (i don't mind serial hotsync, USB isn't a major factor in my decision to get a new palm) but i'll just keep in mind that i should discharge any static i have before i reach for it when it's in the cradle (or anywhere else, for that matter). especially since i seem to build up a lot of static at work. and i'm not sure why that is.
spraying your floor at home and at work with static guard or rubbing it with fabric softener sheets may work, but it'll be pretty temporary, and you should probably remember to discharge the static you've built up anyway, just in case.
just my $.50.

RE: Can we put this information to productive use ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 5:06:39 PM #
I have one of those anti-static foam pads that PC cards sometimes come wrapped up in, connected to the grounded back of my computer with an alligator clip and wire. Touch it before touching the cradle and bobs your uncle.

So, is it my cradle????

dmunz @ 11/12/2001 9:24:13 AM #
I guess this means that my m505 is "ok" on the inside since I can sync with my Inno Pocket USB cable at home. But, when I put the Palm in the cradle at the office, nothing...

RE: So, is it my cradle????
Ia3n @ 11/12/2001 11:18:28 AM #
Try syncing with the cradle at home and with the innopocket at work. It could just be that your drivers or hub at work are screwed up, not the cradle.

Screw Palm

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 9:47:55 AM #
This is another prime example of palm racing to the market with a piece of **** and waiting for the consumer to find the problems. Well mine did this about two months ago and luckely when I bought it from the local best buy I got there extended warenty and they just replaced it. I decided I didnt want the 505 anymore and there were more then glad to let me get the sony n760 and let me tell you it is a but load better then that piece I bought from if you have this problem just tell palm to kiss your ass and buty sony

RE: Screw Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/13/2001 11:47:01 AM #

RE: Screw Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/1/2002 7:11:17 PM #
Palm is only following another company by example. Mircosoft (alias Bill Gates) has been letting the customer trouble shoot their operating systems for years and show no signs of stopping. Anyone who buys the first release of one their programs deserves exactly what they get. Don't get me wrong. I use their products too since they have gone to so much trouble and greased so many judges palms to see to it that there are no viable alternatives. Bill gates is a lying thieving and backstabbing CROOK who, like all people who screw others over and make it big, now wants respectability. He has set the standards and lowered the pole so that others may follow and follow they do. Signed a disgruntled computer lover.

Sounds like BS

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 10:36:24 AM #
"Static charge builds up over time"? Gimme a break. And where does it go? It sounds more like there's a static-sensitive device that's getting fried when the user accidentally touches the edge connector. I'll bet this happens a lot more in Phoenix than Seattle.

RE: Sounds like BS
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 9:49:57 PM #
It's called "capacitance", my friend. Sounds like a design flaw in the chip or surrounding circuitry - it slowly builds up a charge, then discharges when it reaches a threshold (that overcomes some resistance in another part of the circuit). WHAM! No more USB ID. Glad I don't have an m505 now...

Still Sounds like BS
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/13/2001 12:04:49 AM #
And that's due to static? I don't think so. This sounds far more likely to be caused by a static build-up in the human or other foreign objects making contact with the I/O port (where the number of wayward electrons is likely to be far greater). That the USB chip is getting zapped only supports that.

RE: Sounds like BS
GKreamer @ 11/13/2001 10:17:28 AM #
I had a Palm III that got zapped by static electricity about a year ago (winter time, dry, etc.). After getting my house recarpeted, I walked thru a room and put my Palm on the cradle- when I did I heard a loud pop and felt a rather strong static shock. After that the SERIAL port on the Palm would no longer work- no hotsync or modem connections. I tried IR syncing but it was too slow, I had to pay $100.00 to get a refurb unit from Palm. Maybe Palm should have been more careful in their design, but I think that the conditions also play into the equation. Lesson: try to ground yourself before cradling your m505.

''Grounding before Cradling''
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/13/2001 11:04:32 AM #
I don't want to have to worry about doing this every time I friggin cradle my Palm!!! What the hell is this?? Are we still in the age of the vacuum tube???

RE: Sounds like BS
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/24/2002 2:52:10 PM #
I don't want to have to worry about doing this every time I friggin cradle my Palm!!! What the hell is this?? Are we still in the age of the vacuum tube???

I don't want to have to worry about taking a dump every morning. C'est la vie! Oh and those were the good old days the "Age of the Vacum tube". ESD, is very real, look it up.

"Some people just can't handle it, or they handle it to often."

RE: Sounds like BS
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/12/2002 12:58:45 AM #
I live in Seattle. I'm now awaiting the second refurbished unit in 3 months. It took the first one about 5 months to fail, this one about 3 months to fail. I work in a hospital, which may be a contributing factor. Fortunately, I have a serial cable on order also, so I won't lose everything. But i wouldn't recommend the m505 to ANYONE because of this (and I'm a long-time palm user).

Thanks for nothing, Palm.

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 8:57:47 AM #
I'm one of the ones that has this problem. I have been using a serial cradle, that I bought myself, for over six months now. I'd like to thank the anonymous tech and Palm Infocenter for finally disclosing the source of the problem, no thanks to Palm, Inc.

One has to wonder why so many customers had to spend unnecessary time and effort trying to resolve a known problem when Palm could have just admitted the problem and sent customers a serial cable with an apology and/or refund offer. Instead, customers wasted time and effort and customer service wasted time and effort. I'm appalled.

It's clear from the message that Palm m505 users will not see a solution soon or, probably ever. If this is a design flaw, Palm will take a big financial hit if they have to replace a lot of these units.

Thanks for something, Palm
relyons @ 11/12/2001 2:47:37 PM #
I have lost a great deal of respect for the Palm, Inc. management responsible for hiding the true nature of the USB HotSync issue.

However, I am encouraged that a support engineer at Palm, Inc. believed enough in the company and its products to risk disciplinary action by providing this factual and detailed explanation of the problem.

If the HotSync operations suddenly fail for the Palm m505 and USB cradle I use for development purposes, I now know to find a serial cradle and test the HotSync operation to determine if that chip has gone bad.

I won't be pleased about the design flaw... but relieved to know how to resolve it. I'll also be much more willing to forgive the inconvenience.

Thanks for the explanation! Palm Management could learn a thing or two from you.

Is there an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER in the house?

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 10:48:37 AM #
That is what we need to determine if there is some funny business going on here.

RE: Is there an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER in the house?
Coyote67 @ 11/12/2001 11:04:28 AM #
I'm not, but I play one on TV. I heard a few months ago, bob knows how many it was, about a guy who had a page about how this happened to his PalmVx, said he put it in his cradle, spark, his PC just died, and wouldn't come back to life. Called Palm Tech support and they refused to help him at all. Could this be a smiliar problem that effects the PalmV or 50x design?

When you find yourself in the company of a halfling and an ill-tempered Dragon, remember, you do not have to outrun the just have to outrun the halfling.

RE: Is there an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER in the house?
PFloyd @ 11/12/2001 11:09:55 AM #
You could ask Peter Strobel what he thinks. He's written extensively about the M505 and its construction, and the choice of components in the device, etc. A lot of folks respect his opinion.

RE: Is there an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER in the house?
PyroTom @ 11/12/2001 11:13:05 AM #
The Palm devices use the same USB interface chip we use in our mp3 players, the Philips PDIUSB12. This chip does not come with any built-in static protection like most RS232 (serial) interface chips now include.

In designing we could have added a dedicated USB static protection device for about 90 cents that would probably totally prevent this problem. To save some money we just added some resistors to ground which help prevent any charge build-up. This does not offer any real protection from the device get zapped from the outside.

I do not know if Palm added these resistors or exactly what they did. The data sheet for the part does not show or suggest any type of static protection, so it is up to the designer to think of this and include some type of protection.

RE: Is there an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER in the house?
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 11:59:50 AM #
Great. Palm tried to save 90 cents per unit and it's going to cost them a lot more as a result.

Mine died today

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 12:07:50 PM #
I reported last week in a comment to another article that I've had mine since June and not had this problem. However, I tried to sync at the office this morning via a USB cradle, and nothing. I brought the unit home and tried to sync with a different USB cradle. Same result. I'm a very frustrated user at this point.


I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 1:02:48 PM #
I called Tech Support, and the tech stated this is a known problem. The resulution was that my Palm would have to be shipped to a repair facility in Texas, and as soon as they receive my old unit, a new unit and cradle would be shipped back to me. He stated the new unit was a refurb., but that the unit was essentially a new unit with an old case on it. He stated the refurb. unit did not have this same defect.

Anybody want a refurbished m505? ;)


RE: Mine died today
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 2:13:20 PM #
I went thru this last month and received a refurb unit, and guess what, after only FOUR hotsyncs it would not hotsync via USB!!! and a week after that I went to grab it out of its cradle and it shocked me (i have never been shocked by it before) and now it will not function at all. I tried a reset, then a hard reset and it will not work, so I am going to do the fun tech support thing again tomorrow morning.

So we pay NEW prices but get REFURBISHED products?
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 2:23:11 PM #
This doesn't seem right.

RE: Mine died today
djg21 @ 1/18/2002 6:51:29 PM #
My refurbished and "enhanced" M505 died after 2 weeks. My original Palm lasted about 8 months.

I'm now waiting for replacement No. 2. Palm agreed to advance ship. If palm is listening, if there is no return shipping label in the package, you will get the defective Palm back either COD, or not at all. Damned if I'm paying another penny to anyone in order to get a functional Palm. I paid over $25 for shipping and insurance last time. Screw you.

RE: Mine died today
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/18/2002 7:15:57 PM #
What did your m505 die of? USB problem? Battery Problem? or Sudden Death Syndrome?

Hey Ed, please let us know ...

digilaw @ 11/12/2001 12:21:42 PM #
when Palm responds to your article. Assuming your source is good, which seems likely because who would imagine this up, Palm has been "outed". So they will have to come up with a response. For everyone who has said that they pressed the hotsync button and their computer died, well, time to get a new computer on Palm. I think this informaton needs to be put out to everyone who owns a palm m505 (or any palm). Anyone know of the mailing list for all the m505 owners who registered? I'd be willing to circulate this, I can't stand it when companies try to screw their customers.

And everyone was so quick to blame DELL!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 12:33:25 PM #
I remember all of the DELL bashers!!! Well, who ya bashing now!!!!

RE: Hey Ed, please let us know ...
nategall @ 11/12/2001 12:36:16 PM #
just because there is a problem within the palm, does NOT mean that there is not a problem within the PC. The cradle and usb does need to be grounded somewhere. If the cable cannot ground to the motherboard correctly, i don't know where it would be grounded to.

it looks like palm is having some serious issues with the design of the M50x handheld, but as long as they respond and fix the problem.

now my story. I had ordered my palm 3/19/01 when the first went on sale.
It died via this problem on 7/18/01, they did a advanced replacement, i got the replacement in a day or two and i went on.

then on 10/10/01 it died again. once again, advance replacement, i got the replacement in a day or two and i went on.

then on 10/19/01 the replacement died. UGH. once again, advance replacement, i got the replacement in a day or two and i went on.

however, they told me my "free support" runs out soon (oct 31, 2001), but if they have to replace the unit again, i will get a new one.

now my problem is that, obviously, i have a set-up which is prone to this behavior. They have offered me no solution to this problem.

Palm, if you are listening, i just want you to support your product. I'm not saying that you have to remove every bug from every product before shipping it, but... once a problem is evident, i expect it fixed. Especially, if the "bug" stops the unit from working.


The straw that broke the camel's back?

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 12:44:05 PM #
I wonder if this was the last straw that broke the camel's back that got Yankowski fired?

where are the flamers?!?

GregGaub @ 11/12/2001 1:55:16 PM #
I was the one who posted an article about my Vx frying my computer that someone mentioned above. When I posted that article, I got so much hate mail from people I was about to go nuts. They all called me all kinds of names for not grounding myself before touching my Palm. Where are they now?!? Is this not virutally the SAME issue?!? Don't all these people KNOW about how static can damage computers?!? Don't they deserve the same punishment that was wrought upon me?!?
C'mon, all you jerks who flamed me! Flame every m505 user with a dead Palm out there for not grounding themselves! Where are your teeth now, huh? I guess maybe some of you have dead m505's, too, huh? Not so unheard of when the shoe's on the other foot, is it?

To all the people that flamed me...
Bite me.


RE: where are the flamers?!?
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 2:04:08 PM #
get a grip

RE: where are the flamers?!?
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 5:09:39 PM #
Here you go:


Nyah nyah nyah!

That better?

Actually, the ones who went on shocking themselves and are complaining now... gawd... that's like a guy I knew who had racing carbs on his Porsche, and because he didn't race it carbon deposits built up, so every now and then the engine caught fire. He kept an extinguisher in the car so he could put it out when that happened...

RE: where are the flamers?!?
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/13/2001 6:25:20 PM #
Greg, dude-

You are still not clued in to reality...

Palm dies (well, partially anyway) due to statid inside because they didn't provide a way to block the static (if the story is true): Palm's fault.

Your PC dies because your PC manufacturer didn't provide a way to block static: your PC manufacturer's fault!


Palm dies, call Palm. Computer dies, call computer manufacturer.

Got it yet?

RE: where are the flamers?!?
Carlis @ 2/27/2002 11:07:44 PM #
I remember that .. I felt for U then and feel for all M505 user now.. even me... as I own one to..

It still works.. but I screwed mine open just for fun .. It was a piece of cake.. and so much cleaner inside now.. ;) Man, all that dust .. cant be good.

Itīs all fun and games,until someone loses an eye.
- James Hetfield,Metallica -

So, is the problem fixed?

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 3:31:06 PM #
Nothing in the CNET article suggests that this design flaw has been fixed. So, why would I send in my m505 which I use each day so that I can get a refurb back that might do the same thing? I'm not thrilled that I'm using serial instead of USB, however, it was better than those weeks of trying to get something to sync with a fried USB chip.

RE: So, is the problem fixed?
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/19/2002 3:48:45 PM #
This problem is definitely NOT fixed. I purchased my original Palm m505 in July 2001. In late December, it failed with the USB problem. I received the "Enhanced" refurb replacement m505 at the end of January. Having read that people were having problems with their replacement m505's, I decided to sell my replacement m505 on eBay.

I just heard from the person who bought my freshly refurb'd m505 two weeks ago. Guess what--it's not hotsyncing anymore.


I had this problem

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 4:20:15 PM #
I had this problem with my m505 about 1-2 months ago. Palm promptly replaced my m505 and it's been running flawless ever since.

Did it suck that it happened? Sure. Did they fix it? Yes. Am I happy? yea. All you complainers should maybe put things in a little bit more of a perspective.


RE: I had this problem
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 5:04:35 PM #
Just wait. You'll get another perspective. Most people who have had this problem eventually have it again with their new units. Just read the posts. Then, perhaps you can come back here with your thoughts.

RE: I had this problem
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/12/2001 9:28:45 PM #
Oh, but wait!!!!!!!! I was just like you UNTIL IT HAPPENED AGAIN!! 4 months with the first one and only two months with the replacement. But, I'll still give Palm the chance to make it better..........but I'm wearing thin.

RE: I had this problem
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/13/2001 12:24:12 AM #
Just goes to show you the high standards that palm manufacturing and design have!

If you're listening, Palm...

LarryGarfield @ 11/13/2001 2:23:11 AM #
I am not an electrical engineer, so I can't judge myself if this is realistic or not. However, assuming for a moment that it is, we know that Palm has people who read the boards.

Palm, if you find the anonymous tech who sent this message in, don't fire him. Give him a raise and a nice hefty Christmas bonus for having the guts to do his job: Providing technical support to users. The fact that it doesn't jive with "company policy" is irrelevant. He is providing technical support to a vast user base, a user base that you cannot afford to alienate.

Although, I have to say it, it sounds like this is only a problem with metal-cased devices (m505, Vx). Yay for plastic-that-looks-like-metal-but-isn't! :-)

This post is ROT26 encrypted. Reading it is a violation of the DMCA

Not Impressed

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/10/2001 2:16:16 PM #
When you spend that kind of money on a defective product and they make you wait what they claim should be 7 days, and then make you pay the shipping. Bad enough I lost all my data, no I have to pay shipping for a design flaw that is hush hush. At least the guy admitted they were defective.

USB failure in Palm m505

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/28/2001 3:44:33 PM #
I have had to return four m505 units (3 to the retail store) and now another one (this time to Palm, Inc.) On several occasions, simply docking the m505 caused my desktop computer to suddenly shut off (as if someone turned off the power). Other times, the USB suddenly stopped working.
After reading about other's experiences, I called Palm again (I also called after the previous failures and was told they had no idea what was happening). This 4th time, they admitted a problem with the unit and agreed to replace the unit with their "replacement kit".
I am disturbed by the fact that Palm has not recalled their product. I am a physician and this has taken up considerable time. Palm, as far as I can tell, has no mention of this problem (or replacemnt kit) on their web site as of 12-28-01. Ethical? I don't think so!
--William Giakas, M.D.

RE: USB failure in Palm m505
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 1:17:02 AM #
I have the same problem - being in residency restricts severely how much time I have to deal with palm's terrible tech support. If the numerous m505 problems are as widespread as they are beginning to appear, I can't recommend this Palm to my fellow physicians.

J. Clark, M.D.

RE: USB failure in Palm m505
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/21/2002 8:29:27 AM #
Yeah, well, I'm dead! How do you think I feel?

M. Welby, M.D.

RE: USB failure in Palm m505
clarkekm @ 4/3/2003 1:48:57 AM #
I have the same problem in that the computer that I'm syncing with sunndenly shuts down. I have to turn the computer off at the power point to get it to restart. The screen of my palm is also stuffed, one half of the screen is darker than the other half. I emailed palm about this and they suggested a hard reset, that didn't work, then trying to do a sync to get all the info back, I can't sync anymore. Ahhhhhh, I only bought the thing second hand 1 week ago.



I.M. Anonymous @ 6/18/2002 12:43:57 PM #
maybe this is the REAL reason for the m515! (my dads m505 has a booty-ful screen, not dark at all!)


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