May 5, 2005

One month with T5

A little over a month has passed since I took a plunge and bought a T5! It is a good time to further summarise the experience so far. Let's start with a positive note: T5 is not a bad unit overall: it is light, gets through most daily chores (of an "average" user) well, has fair degree of extendability. This post has been created and edited on my T5, and have not experienced any resets or dreaded "Fatal errors" during this feat. Now on to my top five T5 issues (T52 :) ):
  1. Grafitti 2 While the original Graffitti may have required a bit more from a user on a learning front, on-going experience was, IMHO, *much* more rewarding. G1 writing was more like a flow with each ideogram completed in a single stroke (prefix does not matter -- view it as a shift key of your PC keyboard). In contrast, G2 writing does not flow. It stumbles with pauses of expectation at various points, gets confused with loose usage of both old and new charcter strokes. Granted, it is nice to have td tap only once to put a period, but *I* would've preferred not having to wait after an 'L' at the end of each word before stoking a dash to get a space, instead getting a 'T'! Writing "fatal error" almost always when you are jotting ends up in "fataterror"... Character strokes in G2 are a lot more polluted then they were in G1. For instance, 'A', 'U', and 'D' are relatively similar and all get a 20-30% mistake rate. 'J' and ',' also get messed up at times. Even, somehow, a space and a 'W' get mixed up every once in a while! I know that if I dislike G2 so much I can get either a G1 lib back, or install TealScrpt to overcome this. But I think it shows how usability was sarrificed in favor of potential IP infringement ruling. This also leads me to our number 2:
  2. Software compatibility Seems like under-the-hood changes done in T5 are relatively significant. This has a result in how well even OS5-compatible applications work on it, or that not all of them worlk reliably. Historically Palm free-/share-/commercial software was a very strong point of Palm platform. The variety of applications one could choose was much greater than for PocketPC. I cannot comment on whether this has anything to do with ease of developing for Palm, but as a end-user that kept me from switching. I know very little about what's inside a .PRC file, but my guess is that it contains a byte-code similar to that of Java. This and also some sort of a compatibility/emmulation layer can explain to me how an app that was running on my IIIx (Motorola DragonBall @33MHz) also runs on my T5 (Intet XScale @416MHz). That would also sort of explain ocassional "M68Emu-bla-bla" errors.
  3. UNICODE support It is 21st century out there, right? Globalisation and all such things. palmOne (or PalmSource?) seems to have a bit stuck in early 90's of the last one, though. Somewhere in California: there's no support for non-Latin languages. I have never liked fully localized applications. A thought of MS Office in Russian repells me primarily because:
    • It provides a completely foreign interface to an application I know.
    • Russian is not very well-suited language for computer-related stuff. It is too long and many technical terms are too clunky.
    So, I am not very much interested in Russian interface, but I do want to be able to read a text that is in Russian and, ocassionally, write in Russian too. But I don't want to install any hacks or extra apps to achieve this: I think that a proper font and a keyboard is all that should be required.
  4. Memo pad and clipboard limits The former is limited to 4K for editing and somewhat more for viewing. "This editing operation cannot be undone!" error also seems a bit bogus to me -- if I can allocate 5Mb cache to Blazer, sure it should be possible to undo *any* changes to plain text files?
  5. Only one SD expansion slot This may be OK if you only using the unit in a desktop syncing mode or with GPRS for connectivity, but what if you'd like full access to your files *and* use the add-on WiFi card?
Other minor gripes:
  • No vibrating alert and all the same sounds. May I have an option what to wake up to?
  • RealPlayer for multimedia: it'd suck less had it been an add-on application, not taking up space on a ROM chip
  • A lot of apps, even Palm's own, don't take a full advantage of 320x240 screen, forcing an 80 pixel silk onto it.