“About those PDA’s, what about the cameras?”

“Why didn’t you write about the cameras on the PDAs you reviewed?”, asked a reader.

Quite simply, because all PDA camera’s are shite, that’s why.

Here’s two pictures showing why:

2 Citrix Access Gateway appliance, and a Branch Repeater.crud quality citrix photo

PDA, and mobile phone cameras fail in the following areas:

  • picture quality
  • responsiveness (lack of)
    ie. take a photo, wait for the PDA to process it, take another photo, wait again.
  • depth of field (none)

But for completeness, here’s what those PDA’s had:

Megapixels Largest picture size Flash 2nd camera (for video-call)
Sony Xpedia X1 3.15 2048×1536 Yes Yes
Palm Treo Pro 2.0 1600×1200 No No
HTC Touch HD 5.0 2592×1944 Yes Yes
Samsung BlackJack II 2.0 1600×1200 No No

The Sony Xpedia X1 took the best pictures of the four units.

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Palm Pre Tethering

Tethering is the process of connecting your phone to your laptop, and then using it as a modem.

Carriers hate this when you do this without them knowing, because you’re using their bandwidth for something they have not costed.
ie. the Palm Pre will use x amount of the internet (bandwidth), where a laptop tethered to a Palm Pre will use x + y bandwidth.

Sure, some carriers will still you a “”tethering”” plan, but that’s going to cost you more money.

So cell phone carriers get very annoyed when instructions are published on how to get tethering for free:

We have been politely cautioned by Palm (in private, and not by any legal team) that any discussion of tethering during the Sprint exclusivity period (and perhaps beyond—we don’t know yet) will probably cause Sprint to complain to Palm, and if that happened then Palm would be forced to react against the people running the IRC channel and this wiki. There has been no legal action of any sort.

We want to retain a good relationship with Palm, since we believe that will be better for the whole developer ecosystem in the long run. For that reason, we are not allowing discussion of tethering on the IRC channel, or in this wiki. There is no secret agreement with Palm, and the IRC channel and this wiki receive no special access to any information that is not publicly available already. This development group has simply decided to take a stand and do things the right way instead of violating legal agreements.

– Palm Dev Wiki

I found it ironic that the Pre Dev Wiki who’s motto is, “Let’s open this beast up”, shut down discussion on how to open up the beast for tethering.

Instructions on how to tether the Palm Pre can be found here.


The Palm Dev Wiki folks forgot to delete the old page from the wiki history.  Here it is:

Now that the Pre has been rooted, we hope to have a tethering solution soon. Until then, I am still exploring the option of a Mobile IP Host Agent gateway. This is easily done with commercial routers from Cisco, Juniper, HP, etc. I am exploring open source options at the moment, with my most hopeful candidate being DD-WRT.

* To view your connectivity settings, dial ##DATA#
* To edit them, you will need your MSL. If you do not know how to get this, ask google or search the forums
* The Home Agent IPs are the last two on the page
* The Primary IP of connects you to the closest Sprint Home Agent. The secondary is tied to a specific region. See here for more information: Sprint ##DATA tuning

Research links:

* AAA Protocol
* Cisco Mobile IP whitepaper
* Cisco 101: Mobile IP
* Juniper Mobile IP docs

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About that Palm Pre

gallery-pre-13 It’s been a week since the Palm Pre was released in the USA.

The reviews on the first day were glowing.

By tech journalists.  Who I generally distrust, as they haven’t met a free lunch, or product, they have not liked.
Heck we just need to look at the reviews of the BlackBerry Storm (over-hyped) and HTC Touch Diamond (slow, freezes) , to see glowing reviews of horrible products.

Oh, I understand the pressures of a working journalist.  “Would Sir like the 1962 Grange, or the Kopi Luwak?”

So, we arrive at the Palm Pre.  It’s been a week, what have the average users out there found wrong with the Pre?

  • Sluggish at times
  • Keyboard too small
  • Battery life poor
  • Camera does not record video

I think these flaws will be sorted out at the next major Pre software upgrade.  But does the Pre have a future?

Ultimately no.

Apple announced an update to the iPhone last week, the 3GS.  With claimed performance increases of “up to twice the performance of the iPhone 3G”, It’s going to kill off Palm Inc.

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The Good, the Bad, and the “Git Off My Lawn, Boy”

I’ve carried these four PDA’s around for the last three weeks.

If it was my money, there are only two I’d consider.
Leaving one I could live with, and one which would make me reach for my trusty scatter gun.

So, I give you the Sony Xpedia X1, Palm Treo Pro, HTC Touch HD & Samsung BlackJack II.
Sony Xpedia X1 - Palm Treo Pro - HTC Touch HD - Samsung BlackJack II

The Good: Sony Xpedia X1
I’d part with money for one of these.  It’s got Bluetooth, GPS & WiFi.

It’s also got the fastest processor of the four.  The slide-out qwerty keyboard looks small, but is much easier to use than my HTC Tytn II:
HTC Tytn II phone
The only niggle is that the Xpedia has a small screen.  But I’d still buy one.

The (almost) Good: Palm Treo Pro
A good dependable phone.

So many Windows Mobile PDA makers have “customised” the Windows Mobile interface.  Palm, bless them, don’t do that.
That makes the Palm Treo Pro, a very responsive handset.  You should not have to wait for the phone to do something.  It should be instanteous.  Like the iPhone.

One interesting feature.  When you connect the phone to your Windows PC, you’d be greeted with this screen:
Palm Treo Sync Setup screen

Good for novice users, annoying for people testing phones.

The square screen (320×320) may cause problems with some applications.  Here is an example of that:
Palm Treo Pro - screen issue

There is only one thing which would stop me from buying this phone, this proprietary connector:
Palm Treo Pro - Non standard connector

It’s a combined syncing and charging socket.  Which means you need two cables if you’re going to do any serious travelling with it.
That, sadly, is something that Palm is going to continue with their next model phone, the Palm Pre.

The Bad: HTC Touch HD
This PDA is like dating a model.  Great to hold, and great to be seen with.
After a while, the flaws appear. Making you wonder if the good looks are worth all the other crap you have to endure.

To the average punter, the HTC Touch HD looks like an Apple iPhone.  That’s where the similarities stop.

I wasn’t impressed with the HTC Touch HD, as it was slow.  I would select a menu option, and wait.  And sometimes, still wait.
The stylus could be larger as well.  The phone is too expensive, considering all it’s flaws.

Git Off My Lawn: Samsung BlackJack II
If this was my company-issued phone, it would be accidently dropped down a stair well.


There is nothing I like about this Smartphone.  Here are the flaws:

  • Proprietary device syncing and device charging socket.
    Samsung BlackJack II - Non standard connector
    It’s even a different socket compared to the original BlackJack.
  • Small screen.  It’s like looking at the world though a peep-hole.
    This makes it difficult to navigate though the options.  To use this phone is hard work.
  • Windows Mobile Smartphone OS.

If this phone was make in a Communist country, the company executives would be executed for wasting State Resources.

Summary of features

3.5mm audio socket GPS Bluetooth WiFi Mini-USB charging plug Phone carry case included? Cost
Sony Xpedia X1 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No $678
Palm Treo Pro Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No $630
HTC Touch HD Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $805
Samsung BlackJack II No Yes Yes No No No $459

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