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**What is it?**
The Palm Tungsten W is an older smartphone, probably one of the first, released in 2002. I got mine in 2003 when I went to university, as not only does it combine the PDA features Palm is so well known for, it also operates as a mobile phone. At the time, that was revolutionary!
**Price and Availability**
Nowadays you can only buy the Palm Tungsten W second hand at places like eBay and you can pick it up for less than £10. However, when I purchased mine, it cost the lofty sum of £350!
**What's in the Box**
In the box (which I still have!) you get:
The Palm Tungsten W unit, with rechargeable battery
Battery charger / ac adapter with travel plug adapters
Data cable (serial interface!)
The Palm Tungsten W sizes up at 4.80 x 3.07 x 0.67 inches, pretty chunky by today's standards. It weighs in at 184g which again is rather hefty, but you must consider it's age.
It's styled in smooth slightly shiny silver plastic and it has a 3 inch colour screen. It has a full mini querty keyboard, four function keys and a small, stubby dark grey aerial.
Overall at the time I remember it looking extremely advanced, modern and hi-tech but obviously in the intervening 11 years it has aged pretty poorly.
The Palm Tungsten W offers the following features:
Resolution: 320 x 320 pixels
Screen Type: TFT
Processor: Single core, 33 MHz, Dragonball VZ
Storage expansion: SD, MMC
Talk time: 10 hours
Stand-by time: 10 days
GSM: 900, 1800, 1900 MhZ (this phone is not 3 or 4G)
**What it doesn't offer**
Due to it's age, the Palm doesn't offer many features which come now as standard on even budget smartphones - it doesn't have a proper web browser (just a cut down mobile interface), email client, wi-fi, bluetooth, sat nav or mp3 / video player. Back in 2002 these things were unheard of, so you certainly didn't feel like you were missing out.
It does mean that really, it is more or less unusable today for anything other than calling and texting.
The Palm Tungsten W feels quite chunky and substantial in your hand, and it can feel a bit heavy after a while on the phone. Oddly it doesn't have an option to use a hands free with it - it doesn't have bluetooth but it also doesn't have a jack port for a 3rd party hands free kit or earphone use.
The web browser is so slow it's laughably unusable - even back in the day it was barely functional and quite useless. The infrared, too, is almost impossible to use in practice - I remember sitting my phone and facing it's infra red port to my (now husbands) phone and they couldn't communicate - I was only trying to send a phone number!
The screen is OK for the age but is quite dull and the pixels very chunky and obvious - a bit like a colour game boy, really. The Palm OS itself is Ok, quite simple like an early Nokia interface and it is very user friendly in it's simplicity, if a bit laggy. You can expand the memory but I never needed to, there is no real option to store anything substantial like music, video or pictures on it.
Overall I think I bought the Palm Tungsten W as a bit of a gimmick, I thought it would revolutionise my life and it just didn't. The few handy features it had like the diary alarms and a fairly big for the time screen just didn't warrant the high price tag looking back, and I certainly didn't use it as much as I should have considering how much it cost. I ended up replacing it with a motorola razr, and stayed away from smart phones until I got an Apple iPhone in 2012. I do think that the Palm Tungsten W was ahead of it's time in many ways as it promised a lot more than it could really deliver. I am glad I tried it but it did scare me off smartphones in many ways until the technology was perfected.
I will give the Palm Tungsten W 3 stars out of 5, it was an OK phone, not perfect, and did offer PDA functionality, but it wasn't a smartphone in the true sense of the word.
In my excitement to find a Palm PDA with email/sms/mobile capability I quickly ordered mine at the best price that I could find it online, hoping for a great bargain. Waiting for the delivery however, I did some delayed research on the model only to find out that other users had experienced a number of problems with the product, namely:
- the processer was not sufficient to support the range of facilities on offer
- the mobile phone functionality caused system crashes, and was frequently not working
- there was no microphone or speaker on the device, so a headset was mandatory for mobile phone functionality
- the email/wap/sms features were unreliable in the UK (seemed to work much better in New York for me)
- third party software installation created many problems for the device to cope with
- the device was subject to frequent crashes (probably due to processor speed) and hotsync problems.
Not wanting to admit I'd been hasty, I went ahead and kept my unit once delivered, although I am sorry that I did now. After numerous 'small but irritating' problems, I suffered a major syncronisation problem which forced me to send the pda to palm for repair. A couple of weeks later, my palm was back and working, only for the entire device to give up on me 4 months later(!!).
I think most people will find that the Tungsten W model is pretty hard to come by nowadays, but just in case you are considering a second-hand model or have stumbled upon a seemingly great deal on a discontinued line... BEWARE! If you need a PDA or are trying to be more organised and hence more reliant on a device such as this, then I don't think you want to place too much faith in this model as it is at best unreliable, I'm afraid.