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I recieved the M500 as a christmas present, and, as a student I thought it was going to be quite useful for phone numbers and appointments etc. Oh how I was under-estimating it!! Now I take it everywhere. I'm a student, and I can definitely say this is not just a toy for executives, it makes studies so much easier too! I use it now to read journal articles and books; to keep up with the news; to plan my sutdies and social life; check my email; to keep reading lists for projects that I am doing, that I can update wherever I am; to read lecture notes; it even wakes me up every morning! The M505 is a great option. Reasonably priced it has plenty of memory, and an expansion slot if you want to add more. It seems to function pretty quickly, although I don't really have anything to compare it to. Synchronising is really easy, just press one button and let it do it all. It even synchronises to Outlook, and lets me read microsoft word documents. The only trouble is that its making itself indisensible! I'd be useless without it!
This is my fourth Palm in as many years. Not that that's a reflection on the longevity of the products - far from it - it's just that I'm a gadget freak and I quickly outgrew the memory of my earlier Palms. First I had a Palm Pro (1mb), then a IIIe (2mb), then a IIIxe (8mb). The first two have since been passed on to other family members and are still in active service - the IIIxe may go the same way. When Palm introduced their card-slotted PDAs, I was immediately interested. The idea of just being able to buy a £40 card to increase the memory, rather than a whole new system really attracted me. Other reviewers have speculated that the slot will mainly be used for memory, but there are BlueTooth, Ethernet and GPS devices in development at the moment. The problem for me was the price. High street prices were between £280 and £330, which seemed a little steep to me considering that the m505, the colour version, was just £20 more. Shopping around really helped knock the price down. In the end I got it for a much more reasonable £199. When you take into account that Palm are offering a free 16mb expansion card with every Palm m500/505 bought between November 1st and January 7th (see their website for details), that's a damn good deal. Hardware: I'd been salivating over this sleek silver design ever since the original Palm V came out. It really is beautiful. The buttons have been changed slightly from previous models - the power button is now transparent and glows green when it's in the cradle (although, annoyingly, it doesn't provide any indication when the battery's fully charged). The scroll buttons are now two smaller, seperate pieces which may make them difficult to operate for people with big fingers. The case itself is no longer glued together - it's held with four screws at the back, although home repairs may be ruled out by the type of head you would require. On the
right side is the stylus silo and on the left is the silo where the cover slots in. Unfortunately this is much smaller than the stylus silo, so left-handed users can't swop them over. On the top is the IR port and the dinky SD/MMC card slot which operates with a nice spring-loaded action. The cradle connector is different to the V series, so accessories which utilised this port will not work with the m500. Speaking of the cradle, it's got a slightly odd disengaging motion - you have to pull the Palm forward slightly (accompanied by a disconcerting creaking noise) to remove it. However, Palm have finally caught up with the rest of the world in adopting the USB port (great news for us Mac users who no longer have to buy a seperate MacPac). The syncs are much, much faster than before. There are no serial cables included, but a serial cradle is listed in the accessories guide. The flip cover supplied is not exactly the most substantial I've ever seen - it covers the screen and that's about it. You might want to think about buying a better case unless you want your Palm to get scuffed. Unfortunately the m500 is a slightly different shape to the V series and the cover silo is a different size, so there's not a huge range of covers available at the moment, but that will change. The stylus supplied with mine (contrary to other reviews) is a metal with plastic at either end and a reset pin in the top. The speaker is much louder than on previous versions and there's also a new silent alarm - the power button flashes and the unit vibrates. One thing I haven't heard much mention of is the power adaptor for the cradle/charger. It's a clever design which coverts from a three-pin to two-pin plug. Very handy for travelling. Software: Palm have seriously upgraded their software package since the last time I bought one. You now get a whole host of mobile internet applications (for which you
'll need a compatible mobile phone (look for IRDA compatibility) or modem), an eBook reader, picture viewer, AvantGo, Documents to Go, SMS etc. There isn't a huge amount difference between the Palm OS4 supplied and previous versions, although there are some pretty nifty gadgets hidden away - being able to dial a phone number by beaming it straight to your phone, for example. Infrared connections to your phone now require a seperate driver and it's disconcerting that only two Nokia and one Erikson driver are included. Don't panic if your mobile's not accounted for - all other compatible mobiles just need to use the standard GSM driver. Ultimately, Palm software is your choice. There is a massive amount of share/freeware out there (try palmgear.com or handango.com) so whatever your interests or hobbies there will be a program out there to suit you. If you're new to Palm, the text entry system 'Graffiti' may seem a bit daunting, but it's very easy to learn as it's all based on the basic shapes of letters. It takes a bit of practice, but you'll find it's worth the effort. In conclusion: This will be my last Palm for a while. If MP3 and GPS cards come along, so much the better, but I'm confident that even without those, this Palm will see me through a good few years. It's light, well-built and looks stunning. The RRP of £330 is ridiculous, especially considering the price of the m505, £280 is better, but £199 is a real bargain, especially when you figure in that free 16mb card.
Having had a Psion 5 for over three years, it was becoming a bore to lug nearly 1lb in your jacket pocket and have to replace batteries every fortnight if not on mains power... I wavered for a while between a Vx and an m500, since the former is being sold at knock-down prices (in the UK)and most of the new features are for real techies - I can't see myself need additional memory. As more software applications are developed for this series, it will then come into its own. The real attraction is the mobile connectivity (I use a Nokia 6210), which works a dream with the web-clipping software and the content offered by AvantGo (also suppied with bonus software). Having had a keyboard with the Psion, the graffiti alphabet takes a bit of getting used to, but is then a piece of cake. One irritation is the inability to create new files (as one can with the Psion PDAs), particularly if you keep separate calendars or address books for business and personal affairs respectively. Furthermore, the HotSync application only synchronises with default files in Outlook, i.e. if your data is in other personal or public folders then tough luck! There is however a wealth of independent software available, much free- or shareware. Take a look at palmgear.com, for example. And what about the colour on the m505? I have to admit I wasn't overly impressed - I saw one in a store and couldn't take it outside (it was in an airport duty-free). The colour wasn't vibrant and not worth the additional £80 or so.
I have owned a Palm III for 3 years and in this time it has given me sterling service. So it was gutting when I accidentally dropped it on a concrete floor and the LCD screen cracked. However it is a testament to the durability of these palms that the III still worked. So I decided to buy the latest palm M500. At just under £300 it was almost twice as expensive as my III. But it has 8MB of memory, the card interface and a snazzy design. OS4 is not that different from earlier versions, in fact the main difference is the ability to capture an image of your writing in notepad, great for when you hastily need to write down a telephone number, but is it worth that much? Not really. So the new card interface, well not much is available for it yet, and the size of it really only means that memory will be the main use, unlike the handsprings. With 8mb and synchronisation, do I need additional memory cards? Not really. The design is similar to the palm V albeit a little thinner and a couple of grams lighter, not really noticeably lighter. The cover is a flimsy piece of plastic which I am sure will soon need replacing. The only other complaint is the stylus, which instead of the metal body number that came with my III is a cheap plasticky little thing which is awkward to withdraw from the body of the M500. So all in all, a great little machine, with the clearer display of the latest palms, a nice notepad feature, extra memory, a slightly faster processor and good looks. Is that really worth the extra money. Not really. If you want a Palm try and get hold of a Palm V, or wait for the prices to fall.