Tapwave Zodiac2 Review

Product Requirements:
Device:
PC running Windows 98/Me/2000/XP
One free USB port

Julie’s comments are in BLACK, Judie’s are in
italicized BLUE

Hey Sony, you better be watching your back, because there’s a new kid on the
block and he’s come ready to play. Or maybe I should say that he’s come to
go. do. and play
.  At least that is the motto that
Tapwave has selected for their company. This Silicon Valley
startup was founded in 2001, and is now the most talked about new Palm OS
licensee on the planet due to their much anticipated Zodiac handheld. Sorry Sony…

Not just sorry Sony, but sorry just about everyone
else, too! Tapwave has created a device with a laundry list of specs that puts
just about every other PDA or gaming device available to shame. Not bad for
their first product…

Tapwave is billing the Zodiac as the first true mobile entertainment console.
With a gorgeous 3.8in color display, ATI graphics accelerator, Yamaha sound
system, analog controls,
128mb of RAM, and 2 SD card slots, it is primed to be a real kick ass gamer’s
device.  But let’s not forget that this device is not just a game machine.
It is also a PDA. A Palm OS version 5.2.6 PDA to be exact. And with a gorgeous
3.8in color display, 128mb of RAM, Bluetooth, 1540mAh battery, and 2 SD card
slots, it is primed to be a real kick ass PDA. But can it be both a great
handheld game system and a great PDA at the same time?

Well why not? People have long used their PDAs to
play games. Admittedly, some were better suited for it than others. But to
get a machine that someone designed with gaming in mind, plus all the benefits
of an OS that so many are already familiar with…well unless someone totally flubbed
up the formula, I didn’t see how such a device could fail.

I entered into this whole Tapwave Zodiac experience as a major skeptic. Judie
and I even had a little argument / debate with each other concerning how we each
thought this new PDA would fare.

It never got bad enough that bystanders were calling
"catfight!" or anything like that, tho…

While I came into this with the thinking that the Zodiac would never get a
foothold in Nintendo’s Game Boy turf, Judie was ready to go out and buy stock in
Tapwave before she even received her unit.

My exact words to Julie were that based on the
published preliminary specifications,  unless Tapwave released the
Helix
(as it was called at the time) in purple plastic, then I didn’t see how it would
fail. As we all know now, they didn’t release it in any color of plastic – they
went with a metal case, so I still stand by my original statement.

Okay, I’m exaggerating about Judie’s enthusiasm just a touch… In my defense
though, while I was excited about getting my hands on one to play with (we
are
The
Gadgeteers after all!), my main concern was with the Zodiac’s very game-like body
style. To me it looks like a souped up Game Boy Advance that teens would drool over,
but not a PDA that Joe
Corporate would be comfortable whipping out in a meeting.

See, I have to disagree with you there. Since the
case is black metal and the joystick doesn’t exactly look like the one I used to
have on my Atari, or any other game console for that matter, I think that it can pass. As I stated in one of our Bulletin
Board threads, if you are in a meeting and you pull the Zod out and start taking
notes on it, no one is going to say, "what are you doing with that gaming
device?" But let’s be realistic…if you pull it out and beeps, blips, and the
theme music to Stuntcar Extreme ensues – along with a rumble effect and a
shout of "woo-hoo!" thrown in for good measure, then you might find yourself in
the unemployment line. It’s all relative!

Judie and I were both in New York the day that the Tapwave site began
allowing pre-orders.

September 17, early morning…I remember it well.

We each placed our Zodiac2 orders within minutes of each other and then began
the long wait for the actual shipping to begin.

When you add in the long wait that we had
already endured before Tapwave even began taking pre-orders, you can understand
the sense of relief we felt just to be allowed to place the order!

Luckily we were in the group that received the first batch of shipping units.
Now after we’ve each had a good week of hands on Zodiac experience, we’re ready
to share our thoughts on this new device.

Is the Zodiac the "end all be all" of PDA gaming
devices, or will it go the way of the
Bandai
WonderSwan
, Atari Lynx,
Sega
Game Gear
, NEC
Turbo Express
,
SNK Neo Geo
Pocket
,
Sega
Nomad
, to name a few…and dare I add, the

Nokia N-Gage
? We shall see…

Hardware Specifications

Processor: Motorola� i.MX1� ARM9 processor (200 MHz)
Memory: Zodiac1 = 32MB, Zodiac2 = 128MB (12MB reserved for system use)
Graphics Accelerator: ATI� Imageon� W4200 graphics accelerator (with 8MB
dedicated SDRAM).
Display: 3.8 inch transflective display, 480 x 320 (half VGA), 16-bit color
backlit display (65,536 colors)
Sound: Yamaha� audio components and stereo speakers, standard 3.5mm stereo
headphone plug, Earbud-style headphones included
Interface: USB (for HotSync� operation), Infrared, Bluetooth�
Expansion: Dual expansion slots for MultiMediaCards, Secure Digital (SD) and
SDIO cards
Battery: High-capacity Rechargeable Lithium Batteries � 1540 mAh
Power Supply:  AC Adapter / Battery Charger (120 volt AC, 60 Hz),
International connectivity kit (sold separately)
Size/Weight: 5.6� (143mm) x 3.1� (79mm) x .55� (14mm) / 6.3 ounces

Is it any wonder, after reading all of these specs,
that I was so eager to get my hands on the Zodiac2? I know that there will be
those that are advocates for the 32MB version, but to get a 128MB (116MB
actually user-available) PDA, with no off the wall memory restrictions (like the
Sony CLI� UX50) – how could I
resist? As a matter of fact, keep the UX50 in mind, because many of the things I
liked about that PDA, with the obvious exception of a built in keyboard and
WiFi) have been included and improved upon in the Zodiac.

Yeah, 32mb may be fine for some, but for me it’s just too puny, even with the
2 SD slots. If you’re going to do it, do it big I always say!

Impressions:

Included in the Zodiac’s packaging is the Zodiac mobile entertainment console,
USB Sync cable, Power adapter, Stylus, Earbud headphones, Zodiac wrist strap,
Flip cover, Getting Started guide, CD-ROM with Palm Desktop Software with
Tapwave custom extensions, Zodiac User Guide, and Bonus Software.


There aren’t a lot of frills, opening the Zodiac’s
(or the Zod as Julie and I have begun calling it) box. After releasing the box’s
flip lid, you are rewarded with your first view of a real live Zod…and as
impressive as it looks in its simplicity, it isn’t until you pull it out and
feel the smooth black metal case that you really start to understand that you
are holding something special, something groundbreaking.

I’m not sure that I heard the angels sing like you did upon first seeing this
device, but I did appreciate the feeling of quality that the unit gave me when I
first handled it. Performing our requisite squeeze test yielded no case flexing
whatsoever, and shaking the unit revealed no rattles. The Zod is a very solid
device and at 6.3 ounces, it is one of the heavier PDAs on the market. Size
wise, it is not very pocketable unless you are a cargo pants type of person. I
personally tend to put my PDA in my back jeans pocket while I’m walking around
the building at my day job. I would not feel comfortable doing this with the
Zod.



Left to right: Tungsten|T, Zodiac, HP2215, Zodiac

With a few notable exceptions (like my beloved and
long gone

HP 95-LX
), the majority of the PDAs I have used over the years have been
portrait-mode oriented. Once I accepted that this is a landscape oriented PDA
and that with time I would and did get used to its unusual layout, then the
buttons on either side of the screen made sense.


For me, I’ve yet to really get used to it. Portrait oriented PDAs have been
the norm for so long, that the Zod just feels unnatural to me. This orientation
also drives home the point, that this is more of a game machine, than a PDA.
Although the screen can be easily rotated in most applications, it is evident that landscape mode is the preferred mode for this device. It’s the only
mode that the built in application launcher will run in. For PDA functions, I
don’t find the Zod as comfortable to hold and use in portrait mode as I do my
HP2215. In this orientation, the device is slightly wider than what I’m used to.
Holding the device in landscape mode feels even less comfortable to me. I
sometimes feel like I could easily drop it. That being said, holding the unit
between my two hands for game playing feels very natural and comfortable.

The front of the Zod houses the 3.32" wide by 2.26"
tall screen. This is exactly the same size as my

CLI� NZ90
‘s, which to me was a very large point in the Zod’s favor.

The Zod’s screen is brilliant, beautiful, and easily
one of the clearest I have seen on a PDA. The 480×320 resolution is shown here
in all its glory. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have this screen, in this
size on a PDA without having to accept a bulk-adding built-in keyboard that I
will never use as part of the deal. As an added bonus, there wasn’t a single
dead pixel on my screen!

I agree that this screen is just gorgeous! Colors are rich and text is crisp.
Reading e-books on this baby is a delight to my eyes. Having the extra real
estate that this screen provides means more information that can be displayed on
each page. As far as the digitizer is concerned, writing on the display with a
stylus is easy and comfortable. The display is not spongy or rough. It is as smooth
as glass.

On the left side of the screen, in descending order
are: the Power button with charging status LED backlighting, the "Analog
Controller" (joystick), the Function button, the left speaker and the Home
button.

The Power LED glows orange when charging and green
when charged. If you allow your Zod’s battery to get low, as I did while testing
it yesterday, you will see a steady orange blinking.

I love the changing colors for the LED! Besides just looking cool, you always
know the charging status. The Power and Home buttons are small and completely
flat. My Power button seems to have less tactile feedback than my Home button.
Mine is the same way, so it must be the way it was
designed.

The joystick is, simply put, the finest I have ever
used on a PDA. It is a true 8-direction with a center push. Topped with rubber
padding, it is easy to control, feels good under the thumb, and is better than
any other D-Pad or joy-pad on any other PDA I have ever owned; bar none.

I agree that it is nice and easy to use. That said, it might be nice if there
was a way to slow down the speed in the launcher application as just pressing it
in the direction of an application will launch that app, whether that is what
you had intended or not.

Right. There is no way to scroll through the choices
and pick one (perhaps by hitting the center of the joystick). Instead, there
are eight choices on the launcher, laid out in the eight directions the
joystick will go, like the spokes of a wheel. Whichever direction you choose
will open the corresponding application or folder. When in a sub-folder, tapping
the joysticks center will activate the middle button of the launcher, the hub,
if you will. Even though this makes for efficient one-handed operation after you
get the hang of it, I don’t use this feature very much. I guess I like tapping
on the screen too much.

The Function button is pretty much worthless, except
when playing games, and the Home button will always bring you back to the main
Launcher’s home screen.

The Home button will also power the device on and open into the launcher
view.

The Zodiac’s right side has the four separate
directional action buttons and the right speaker.

Using the built-in launcher, these four buttons are
re-mappable to any application or function stored in the main RAM of the PDA.
This includes functions like HotSync and features like Prefs. Unfortunately,
these buttons will only launch the programmed applications when you are in the
Launcher view, which may not seem like a big deal, but it feels like a major
oversight when you want to launch something from an open application.

These four buttons totally annoyed me during the review period. I mapped mine
to the 4 main PIM apps: Contacts, Calendar, Memo Pad and To Do. Like Judie said,
these applications only launch when you press them in the launcher view.
Otherwise, the North and South buttons function as page up and page down and the
East and West buttons do anything. I would really like to have a setting where
these buttons could work as application buttons in all apps but games. I
guess I don’t understand why these buttons need to be set to move up and down in
a page, when the joystick already does that. They also do not power the device
on when pressed.

The stereo speakers sound surprisingly good.  Having
them on the front of the PDA is probably a big part of that, as is the name
brand quality of the components.

I was also surprised at the how well music sounds while played through the
speakers at maximum volume. The Zodiac can also function as a capable alarm
clock given the loud volume.

The top of the Zod, if you were looking at it as it
is shown in the following picture, houses the right trigger button (which
because of this view is now on the left), SD/SDIO expansion slot, the Bluetooth
button with blue LED indicator, the non-SDIO SD expansion slot, and the left
trigger button (which is now on the right).

Both trigger buttons were placed with gaming in
mind, but the right button serves a function near and dear to my heart – it
allows you to advance a page when using
Palm Reader
. Unfortunately, the left trigger button does not do anything,
much less allow you to go back a page, but since the joystick and the four way
directional buttons allow that, this isn’t a deal-breaker.

These shoulder buttons are a direct ‘rip off’ from the Game Boy Advance and
Advance SP. We really need a pinball game! But without a way to remap these
buttons, they won’t see a lot of use in non gaming applications.

I was a little bit surprised that there were no
plastic "slugs" in the SD slots. While this is no big deal, it just seemed odd
that they weren’t included. The left SD slot is designated as One, while the
SDIO enabled right slot is designated as Two. I love having dual SD slots –
absolutely love it! I can now designate one SD card for programs and use the
second for nothing but music.

I find it interesting to note that only one of the slots is an SDIO slot. I’m
wondering if this is due to a hardware limitation? I can foresee a need and / or
want for two SDIO peripherals to be in use at the same time. For example, an SD
camera and an SD WiFi card.

Bluetooth is activated by pressing the BT button.
When pressed, a message will appear on screen that says "Discoverable for 3
minutes," along with a four note tone. Pressing the BT button again turns the
function off with another four note tone.

<sniff> I wish the Zod had included WiFi instead of Bluetooth… Surfing the
web wirelessly would be great on this device! I
completely agree! While I understand that Tapwave was thinking of networking
game players, I wish they could have thrown in the WiFi module, too…or instead
of! Ah well, that’s the beauty of the SDIO slot, I guess… <sigh>

The bottom holds the stereo headphone jack and the
HotSync/charging port.

I’ve got good news and bad news concerning the audio quality through
headphones. The good news is that the Yamaha sound system used in this device is
freaking awesome! I dare say that MP3s sound better on the Zodiac through headphones
than they do on my iPod! Ack, did I really say that?! The bad news is that while
listening to music through the built in music player, I could detect some
clicking and static type noises every so often in some of my songs. As a better test, I installed
the included trial version of AeroPlayer. These sounds seemed to go away while
using this
player… but, I prefer the sound quality of the built in application. <sigh>
I’ll be curious to see if anyone else has this same trouble.

In the beginning, when the Zod was still being
called the
Helix, there was talk that the sync and charge port would use the Palm
Universal Connector. What a coup it would have been, had it just been so…but
alas…

The good news is that if you want to add a keyboard,
the new

Targus infrared keyboard
will work nicely, and Tapwave has even provided the
drivers to
expedite this.

The bad news is that all the other accessories, chargers, cables, etc that
used the Universal Connector are not compatible with the Zod. I find it disappointing but typical that the Universal Connector was dumped
in favor of something proprietary. I do like that the cable can be separated
into both syncing and powering components. This makes traveling light easier as
you can just pack the USB part of the cable and not the AC adapter part.



Left to right: charger cable plugged in by itself, hotsync
cable plugged in

The back of the Zod features the clips for attaching
the screen protection flap and the dual clips for holding the stylus. The screen cover is much cheesier than I had
expected,
and other than the nicely designed Tapwave logo gracing it’s front, it has
little going for it. The good news is that it is easily removable. The bad news
is that until there are some nice cases available, you might need to keep that
flap in place.

After 5 minutes, I pulled the flip cover off my device and threw it back in the
box. What Tapwave should have done was to create a foldable hard cover like the
good old Apple Message Pad 2000!

The stylus itself is not too bad. It’s a simple
smooth stick with indentions where it clips into the holders. I think it is a
metal shaft with plastic ends, and it feels pretty good when being held. That’s not to say that I won’t be
keeping my eye out for after-market versions, though!

The problem is the way that the stylus is clipped
onto the back of the Zod. Due to the two iffy clips, the stylus is not
super-secure. As if that weren’t enough, since the tip of the stylus is always
exposed, I wouldn’t even dream of using the Zod without adequate screen
protection.

I don’t care for the location or method of stylus attachment at all. You have
to practically pry it out of the clips with your fingernail. Doing this on the
stylus tip side can be a big no no as it is easy to damage the tip. Also, the
stylus does not include a reset pin. If your Zod crashes, you’ll be hunting
around for a paperclip.

Well, actually, it is easy to disengage the stylus
by pressing on either of its ends. Like a fulcrum and pendulum it will pop out
of the clip on the other side. I can also vouch for the tip of the stock
stylus, as I have had to do a couple resets already. It works fine, but the tips
of all the other larger styli that I keep on my desk won’t.

Neither model Zodiac ships with a cradle, instead,
they come with a sync/charge cable. While this will be great for traveling, I
would prefer a cradle when I am sitting at my desk, so I broke down and spent
the $20 to order one. The good news was that this was a very reasonably priced
cradle. The bad news is that it was back-ordered, so I have no idea when I will
actually get it.

It seems pretty lame to me that the $399 model did not include a cradle. I
mean, they are only selling it for $20, so it couldn’t have been that much of an
expense to include it. I could not agree more!

The connector on the cable leaves a bit to be
desired. It seems as if the slightest jiggle will dislodge it.

While I’ve not noticed that with the HotSync connector, I have when just
using the power part of the cable. One time I noticed that when I plugged in the
charger cable, that the power LED would not light up at all. It took several
times of plugging and unplugging the cable, before it began working again.

Now that you mention it, I suppose that is the case.
I haven’t had a single broken HotSync, but I do notice the broken connection
when I am charging the Zod. In-ter-es-ting…

Infrared range seems to be acceptable. I was
able to beam and receive programs between the NZ90 and the Zod from no greater
distance than 2 feet.  I don’t foresee a second life as a TV remote
control in the Zod’s future.

I found the best range I could get to be 3.5 feet, so it’s okay, but
not as a remote.

One of the cooler features of the Zodiac is that
Tapwave took the vibrating alarm that some Palms have been offering, and they
integrated it into Tapwave specific games as a rumble effect. Even though I knew
it was coming, I still got a bit of a jolt when I was playing Stunt Car Racer
and after I made a jump, the Zod rumbled as I landed!

I agree that this is a great gee-whiz feature. Everyone that I’ve allowed to
demo the stunt car game has been very surprised when they felt the Zodiac start
to vibrate. I’ve never really thought that rumble effects could contribute that
much to game play. I’ll admit that I was wrong after playing Stunt Car Racer and
another fun game: Kickoo’s Breakout. Fun stuff!

I did a non-scientific battery test yesterday, just
to see what kind of battery life I could expect from the Zodiac. Starting at
9:20 am, I unplugged the power portion of my sync/charge cable, and I went
without fresh juice for the remainder of the day. I listened to MP3s for a
while, did my usual Date Book/Contacts lookup and add-to routines, played some
games, consulted a few spreadsheets and documents, and at the end of the day
finally settled onto the couch to read for a couple of hours. It wasn’t until
11:20 pm, and right in the middle of the climax of my book I might add, that the
low battery warning first appeared and the afore mentioned orange blinking LED
light routine began. Ordinarily, I would never allow my battery to get so low,
so hopefully that will be the last time that that happens.

As a handheld gaming device, battery life is key. No one wants to get a low
battery warning in the middle of some hard core gaming. That’s why the large
capacity battery in the Zod is a major asset. I believe that the battery has the
largest capacity of any Palm OS PDA to date. I could be wrong though. So far, it’s been better than my Tungsten|T and my HP2215 at lasting all day.
I agree.

Overall, I think that the Zod’s system speed is
pretty zippy. Even though the included launcher is a bit clunky, it isn’t as if
I had to sit here and stare at an hourglass or anything of the sort as any
applications launched. I would compare basic operating speeds to the NZ90, but
when playing Tapwave specific games, there is no comparison. The games roll
smoothly and refresh immediately. I guess that the Graphics Accelerator is
responsible for that.

I also have no complaints with system performance. I guess it’s safe to say
that most PDAs on the market right now are fast enough for almost everyone. I never
found myself waiting on the Zodiac during any tasks. Screen refreshes are fast
and applications load in a blink.

Since I was using a Sony CLI� before I started this
review, and as we all know – you can’t sync a CLI� and any other Palm OS PDA on
the same computer, I had to remove the Sony version of Palm Desktop. I then
installed the Tapwave version, and watched as the Tapwave programs were
introduced to my C:\Program Files\Sony Handheld folder. Okay…that just
seems weird. There is no telling what will happen if I try to go back to using
my CLI�, but otherwise, I had no surprises during installation. Julie, on the
other hand, had her hands full…

Oh boy, where do I begin? I have a 2800+ homebuilt Athlon system, an 800mhz
homebuilt Athlon system and a Crusoe notebook on my home network. The 2800+
machine is my main computer, and the one that all my PDAs sync to. During the
Zodiac installation, it recognized the Palm desktop for the Tungsten|T, and advised me
to uninstall it. So I did. Then I installed the new desktop, and I started noticing
problems right from the get go. The Zodiac wouldn’t successfully hotsync 2 times
in a row. It would get stuck on trying to find the user. Internet Explorer began
acting flakey too. I was unable to register the Zodiac through Tapwave’s
website, the registration webpage would come up as not found every time I
would try it. I got so aggravated that I decided to try the software on my other Athlon desktop. The exact same problem
occurred! At this point, I was sure that
it was an incompatibility with the Athlon processor, so I had Judie try
installing the software on her husband’s Athlon notebook. Guess what? No
problem. ARGH! So, I uninstalled the software on both desktops and reinstalled.
That was a mistake, because then I couldn’t get the USB driver to work AT ALL on
either one! <sigh> The only happy ending to this story is that I finally tried
installing the software on my Crusoe notebook, and it worked fine. But the whole experience has been a
real headache!

If you would like to see the "guts" of the Zodiac,
take a look at these


pictures
. Up until I found them, I was seriously
considering cracking the case on mine; I have to admit that I am a bit relieved
that now I won’t need to.
You gotta love the FCC
(sometimes)!

Software Specifications

Now that we pretty much talked about the hardware till we were blue in the face,
let’s take a look at the software that is installed and included with the
Zodiac.

May I say yet again, that I miss classic Graffiti? The
Zodiac comes with Palm OS 5.2.6, which means that it uses
Graffiti2. Even though I am complaining about it, I suppose that I am getting
used to using Graffiti2. There are just a couple of letters that I almost always
have to go back and redo, like "k", "i", "t", "x", and a couple of pronunciation
characters such as "@" and "&". I’ll get used to it eventually…I can evolve.

I’m cool with Graffiti2… But I personally like all the input choices that I
have on my Pocket PC ;o)

Tapwave Software:

Music – Built in MP3 player, the screen turns off after
90 seconds and then the LED
throbs green. Icons will light up to tell where the MP3s are stored. In this
instance, they are on SD card 2.

   

The built in player has a great interface and much better audio than the
trial version of AeroPlayer which is included on the CD. The bad thing about the
built in player is the fact that you can’t play music in the background while
other applications are running.

Photos – JPEG Photo Viewer. Displays the photo, it’s
name, date taken and the time (if imprinted). Photos are rotateable, and there
is an icon to display where the photo is stored. From this program, you can
delete, beam, send via Bluetooth and copy the photos. You can also run the
photos as a slideshow.

  
 

Clock –  Alarm Clock with integrated stopwatch & MP3 music feature.
When you set the alarm to play MP3s, you get 15 seconds of your favorite song to
wake up to. Unfortunately, this MP3 feature is limited to only this
program…which means no polyphonic alarms for the regular alarms. UGH.

No polyphonic alarms!!!! What the heck is up with that? The Zod has an
awesome sound system, and we have to put up with crappy beeps and boops for
calendar alarms. If Sony can play polyphonic alarms, why can’t the Zod? Come on!

   

Launcher- As mentioned before, the built in launcher
features an eight-pointed wagon wh
eel
design, with the hub being the "level up" button. You can place your most often
used programs at the end of the wagon-wheel’s "spokes" for quicker launching
with the joystick. Leftover programs will line up to the right of the "wheel".
Launcher is skinnable, as you can see by my buddy
Blue Dog,

I really want to like this launcher, but there are a
few things about it that prevent a good relationship. Starting with the fact
that it is klutzy, and you can’t do basic things like get it to open in the view
you were last in, or delete certain categories "it" feels you should keep – such
as Games – when all of yours are stored on an SD card, and they show up in that
category, instead.

Actually, I am waiting for
MegaLauncher to support 480×320, then
I will be right back to what I prefer using. Heck, I right now I would like the
option of being able to use the plain old Palm Launcher…wonder why it’s not
here? The closest thing that the Tapwave has to the original Palm Launcher is
their "All" view, which I am not fond of…to say the least.

I have actually been using the All application view. I prefer to see all my
stuff in icon view instead of in cutesy circular patterns. Several things drive
me nuts about the launcher in general. One is the fact that you can’t rotate it
to portrait mode. Another is that you can’t change the icon size in the All
applications mode.

Silkscreen Buttons – On the side bar of the screen
are six silkscreen buttons. unfortunately, our screen shot program can’t capture
them. They are, in descending order: Home, Menu, Find, Sound, Rotate Screen and
Collapse/Expand Graffiti Area. Of note is the Sound button. It allows you to
mute the speakers, however it can’t be a simple on or off – it is a timed
feature; odd, yet handy in that you won’t forget to turn the sound back on
later.

I actually love this feature. It’s great to use right before you go into a
meeting. You can quickly set the sound to come back on at a predetermined time.
For me, this works way better than trying to remember to toggle the sound on
after the meeting is over. But that’s because I have the memory of a gnat!

   

Palm Software: Includes basic Palm PIM
applications that have been adapted to fit a 480 x 320 screen. We won’t discuss
all of these applications, as many are the same ol’ same ol’.

Address Book  – looks great in landscape mode.

Date Book  – also looks very good in landscape mode...

To Do List – lookin’ good...

Memo Pad – and yet again, looks good…but with a caveat…

Ok, here comes a big rant… The Zodiac ships with Palm OS 5.2.6 right? 
That’s actually a later version than what is shipped with the
Tungsten|T3. Although Zodiac’s version of
the OS comes with some of the same great new features, such as the rotating
display, and soft input area, it is missing some major things in my opinion! The
very useful agenda view in the Calendar application is missing, and more
importantly Memos still have the 4K limit! Very disappointing…

Card Info – gives data about the internal
media and added SD cards (if you use them)…

Calculator,
Security,
HotSync

Preferences – There are a couple of special
features, due to the nature of the Tapwave…of note are the orientation for
screen input and the two different types of calibrations necessary to make game
related buttons as well as screen taps register properly.

Nice touch for us southpaws!

    

Palm� Desktop v.4.1 (for PC) – This version has been
modified specifically for the Tapwave. It keeps track of high scores on games as
well as allows plug-ind for the Kinoma Producer and other programs

Value Added Software:

Stunt Car Extreme – Oh my goodness, I am so bad
at this game…but I am trying to get better! The ice track really kills me
every time. I like the way you can "chat with" then challenge other onscreen
drivers to races for money/points. This is such a smooth playing driving game.
One day I will master it…really!

I’m probably not much better at it than you are, but I still love playing it!
Gotta love that boost feature! It’s definitely a great demo program too. All the
guys at work want to play it whenever they come by my desk. I think Tapwave
picked the right game to bundle in with this device. Too bad there aren’t more
games available now! <grumble>

This game also won points from me because I was able
to move it to my SD card and run it perfectly from there. An update for this
game came out the day after we got our Zod’s, and I was able to upload the new
version to my card and delete the old with no problem.

   

AcidSolitaire – This is my favorite version of
Solitare yet. I know that you don’t have to, but I still play it by tapping on
the screen. The sound effects are great, and the graphics are wonderful. This
game also loaded to my SD card with no problem.

Kinoma Player – I was pretty excited about the idea
of being able to watch movies on the Tapwave’s gorgeous screen, until I actually
made one. Sure, it plays smoothly and the sound is great…but look at the tiny
picture!

As people may have noticed from some of the other reviews, I am not impressed
with Kinoma. I’m lazy and don’t want to have to convert MPEG files that I
download off the net into a special format in order to view them on my PDA. I do
hear that there is an application called MMPlayer, but I’m not sure if there is
a Zodiac version available yet.

   

Kinoma Producer – Converts AVI, QuickTime, MPEG1, MPEG4 files
for use on the Zodiac entertainment console. QuickTime software required to use
the Kinoma Producer on PC. Producer integrates with
Palm desktop for an easy to accomplish .mpg conversion.

PalmReader – This program is a pleasure to use on the
Tapwave. Pages can be saved by pushing in the middle of the joystick or by
tapping the upper corner of the screen. Pages can be advanced by using the
joystick, down and right directional buttons, or the right trigger button. Pages
can be turned back by using the joystick or the up and left directional buttons.

Ack! Judie, do you really read books with a pink background? I’m feeling a
little nauseous right now just looking at it ;o) Hehehe

I do!! But it doesn’t show up as this pink when it’s
on the screen! Really! <blushing furiously>

Kidding aside, I would
have to say that this application is the one that gets the most use on both my
Palm and Pocket PC PDAs. The large screen on the Zod makes reading a great
experience!

Some of the other applications included on the CD are:

Wireless-based chat & shared whiteboard (PhatPad by Trumpetsoft)
Graphing Calculator (powerOne by Infinity SoftWorks)
Microsoft� Word�-compatible Word Processor (WordSmith by Blue Nomad)
Web Browser and SMS client for use with compatible Bluetooth enabled phones
(bonus software on CD).

 

Conclusion:

Ok, if you’ve read this far, you definitely get a gold star!

No kidding, I think we wrote a novel this time!

So, should you buy the Zodiac, or not? I’m still trying to make up my mind on
that question… Since I’ve been using a Pocket PC for several months, it feels
strange to be using a Palm OS device again. I’m not sure the Zodiac is the right PDA
for me. But as a game device, it’s a heck of a lot of fun! I just don’t know if
I will play enough games to justify it as a $399 Game Boy, when I already have a
$99 Game Boy.

I on the other hand, have been using a Palm for a
while, so other than the Graffiti2 and getting used to the new screen
orientation, this one just feels like home. You wanna talk about
justification? How do I justify leaving a $799 NZ90 with a 1GB Memory Stick for
this? But believe it or not…I am going to.

As it stands, my HP2215 does everything that the Zodiac can do and even some
things a little better. Both have dual card slots, Bluetooth, both can play
games, and both can play MP3s. The Zodiac has the better graphics system and
sound system, but right now, there are so few games available specifically to
take advantage of these two major features, that it’s a wash for me.

Although I will miss having the built in 2 mega-pixel
camera that my CLI� sports and the retro-style graffiti, I think my choice is
clear. Playing anything other than a tap screen game on my CLI� was a joke…and
now that I have tasted full-screen with buttons, a real joystick and rumble
effects – WOO HOO! Good thing that saying that where I work won’t get me fired!

The HP is quite a bit smaller than the Zodiac, which is important to me. It also
can play MPEG video right out of the box which isn’t a deal breaker, but is a
feature that I value.

I am used to the size of the NZ90, while the Zodiac is
considerably thinner, it is otherwise about the same. I was fine with the size
of the NZ, and I am just fine with the size of the Zod.

Regarding movies – I really don’t care if I can watch
them on my PDA or not…that’s what a portable DVD player is for.

I guess it really all depends on how you approach this device. Is it a PDA, or is it a
game system? Since it is being marketed as a game machine first, and a PDA
second (at least that is my impression when I visit Tapwave’s website), I don’t
think that the majority of adults that are in the market for a PDA will even go
for this device. And since it’s way more expensive than Nintendo’s Game Boy SP,
it’s hard to envision many kids coming up with the cash to buy them.

If you are a person that can think outside the box and
that recognizes the Zodiac for what it is, then you would have to agree that
this device has the absolute best specs available on the market right
now
regarding built-in memory, battery life, slots, screen, processor, and
sound for a reasonable price. How many times have we lamented the button
layout on a new PDA because it was horrible for gaming? How many times have we
wished someone would release a comfortable D-pad or joy-pad…something more,
dare I say it?? Joystick-like? Here it is, and we are going to look a gift-horse
in the mouth?

Ok, when it comes right down to it, I love the hardware specs of this device,
but I’m just totally over the OS… At this moment in time, I’m enjoying the
Pocket PC experience better than the experience that Palm OS gives me. I know
that if this was the new HP device, I’d be all over it like a cheap suit! But as
it is, I’m not, which surprises even me.

Obviously many of us are people that would buy both a
PDA and a gaming device; look at how conveniently the two have been combined
here! This is the answer to so many of our past gripes and wish lists, but
because of marketing buzz-words and images are we going to turn up our noses? So
what if it’s marketed to generation zippedy-do-dah as a gaming device! The Zod
out PDAs every other PDA available. I am going to consider it – a PDA that
happens to be great for gaming, and it is now officially my new Daily
Driver.

I’m leaning towards returning mine to Tapwave, but I’ve still not made up my
mind completely. I agree with you that it’s a great PDA that’s also great for
gaming (as soon as more games are available that is…). For someone wanting the
sexiest Palm device available right now, this one is it without question. But
for me, all these spiffy features aren’t enough to make me want to make it my
main brain.

Various documents and downloads can be found
here.
By registering your Zod,
you can extend your three month warranty to a one-year limited
warranty.

Price: $399 ($299 for the 32mb version) Get your
best price here.

Pros:
Reasonably priced
Good battery life
Large gorgeous screen
Dual SD slots
Large user-available built in memory
Analog joystick
Awesome sound

Cons:
Inability to remap hardware buttons
No polyphonic alarms in Date Book
Larger size than many PDAs
Wacky stylus attachment method
Cheesy screen cover

 

Product Information

Price:
Manufacturer:Tapwave
Posted in: Gaming Gear

{ 89 comments… add one }

  • Julie November 14, 2003, 3:44 am

    Post your comments here on the Tapwave Zodiac2 Review.

    http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/tapwave-zodiac2-review.html

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

    1
  • bigslick November 14, 2003, 7:01 am

    Judie wrote:

    Although I will miss having the built in 2 mega-pixel camera that my CLIÉ sports and the retro-style graffiti…

    There was an article about swapping Graffiti 2’s alphabet
    with ‘Graffiti Classic’ over on PIC a little while ago:
    http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=5830

    …don’t see why this wouldn’t work on the Zodiac.
    Apparently, you also get to keep the ‘write anywhere’
    functionality of Graffiti2, but get to use the Graffiti 1
    alphabet that’s been burned into your nervous system
    over the past six or seven years, or whatever. Pretty
    cool. (Disclaimer: I’ve not used this procedure myself,
    as I’m still using a TT.)

    On a completely tangential note, just wanted to say
    that I’ve been reading The Gadgeteer since my Palm III
    days, and have made purchases based in large part
    to your reviews and recommendations (e.g., Vaja
    cases, Clie T615, and more).

    Keep up the great work, and let us know how the
    Zodiac pans out, as my TT is getting a little long in
    the tooth (and was never really used as much as
    my T615, due to the stupid slidey mechanism limiting
    my case options. I still have the clear faceplate thing
    on my TT. :()

    -bigslick

    2
  • v0gu3b0y November 14, 2003, 7:02 am

    As always the best and most complete review so far come from you :)

    3
  • eichin November 14, 2003, 8:25 am

    Nice detail. I’ve been being tempted by this and have eagerly awaited your review, and I *don’t* have any interest in it as a game system – sure, I’ve played all the screens of acidsolitare, and I like the some of the astraware games, but they’re not *important* to me, I wouldn’t miss them. But 128M of *real* memory? and bluetooth, and an sdio slot, and a glorious screen? This could get me developing palm apps again :-)

    Do you happen to know if DateBk5 works in the large screen modes here? Could you perhaps give DeepReader a try, too? (It is portrait mode, full screen on the clie, but has really nice fonts and smoothscroll…)

    4
  • Roy November 14, 2003, 1:58 pm

    Great review, but you seem to have skipped the most
    important part of the Zodiac, tha fact that it is
    open-sourced and allows emulators of other systems to
    be run and their games to be played, otherwise it IS
    just an expensive GameBoy.

    Emulation is what drove me to get the Zodiac, that’s
    where its real strength comes from, it’s not a souped
    up Gameboy Advance but a souped up GP32 (if you know
    this system), they both allow open-source development.

    5
  • Judie November 14, 2003, 2:22 pm

    Originally posted by eichin
    <snip> But 128M of *real* memory? and bluetooth, and an sdio slot, and a glorious screen? This could get me developing palm apps again :-)

    My point exactly! Well, except for the developing apps part…I wish I could! :)

    Originally posted by eichin Do you happen to know if DateBk5 works in the large screen modes here? Could you perhaps give DeepReader a try, too? (It is portrait mode, full screen on the clie, but has really nice fonts and smoothscroll…)

    DateBK5 – I loaded v5.1a, s1 and it does not support widescreen

    DeepReader – I loaded v1.032, and it does not seem to support widescreen, either.

    Judie :0)

    6
  • Scott R November 14, 2003, 2:40 pm

    Excellent job as always! I just linked to it from Tapland.

    In the other thread where you discussed some of your initial impressions (prior to posting your full review), my last reply made note of the fact that someone had successfully used ZLauncher on their Zodiac. Did you ever get around to trying it?

    I don’t see myself wanting to hold the Zodiac in landscape mode unless I’m playing a game, watching a movie, surfing a web site, or using it with a full-size keyboard. Most of the time, I’d want to hold it in the traditional PDA portrait mode, so having a launcher that works that way would definitely be a big deal. Let me know if you get around to trying ZLauncher.

    Scott

    PS – I finally got an email yesterday saying that my Zodiac was being processed, though the online order status still shows nothing in the “Qty Shipped” column. :(

    7
  • TechnoCat November 14, 2003, 2:55 pm

    we all know you can’t sync a CLIÉ and any other Palm OS PDA on the same computer

    Not true. I sync a Palm IIIc and a Sony UX50 on the same system just fine.

    8
  • Judie November 14, 2003, 2:58 pm

    Scott,

    I know this will sound silly…but I paid for MegaLauncher. I want the launcher I paid good money for to step up to the plate and offer widescreen support. If they aren’t going to do that…well then I suppose that I will pay for ZLauncher. Which will totally irk me. :p

    I have a feeling Tapwave got massively slammed with orders, and that’s why they are so back-logged. I would love to know how many orders have been placed.

    Julie may not remember, but our original debate included a bet. My bet was that Tapwave would be a success, she said “no.” We decided that the measure of success or not would be if they sold a million units. There’s no real time frame, but I would love to see them do it in a year. We only bet $1, so either way…

    Judie :0)

    9
  • Judie November 14, 2003, 2:59 pm

    Originally posted by TechnoCat
    Not true. I sync a Palm IIIc and a Sony UX50 on the same system just fine.

    Really??? Tell me how! :)

    10
  • dequardo November 14, 2003, 3:35 pm

    Complete review as always.

    I’m certainly no prude but I cringed at the course language-mild as it may be in these, er, ‘enlightened times’.

    ‘Kick a**’ used twice. ‘Freaking’…tainted an otherwise good review.

    C’mon, are you going through regressive adolescence, or worse?

    Mike

    11
  • cambium November 14, 2003, 3:44 pm

    |Quote|
    Silkscreen Buttons – On the side bar of the screen are six silkscreen buttons. unfortunately, our screen shot program can’t capture them. They are, in descending order: Home, Menu, Find, Sound, Rotate Screen and Collapse/Expand Graffiti Area. Of note is the Sound button. It allows you to mute the speakers, however it can’t be a simple on or off – it is a timed feature; odd, yet handy in that you won’t forget to turn the sound back on later.
    |/Quote|

    The six button are not really silkscreened. They do disappear in certain applications so you can use the whole screen.

    Other than that, great, very complete review!:D

    cambium

    12
  • Altema November 14, 2003, 4:24 pm

    Very in-depth review as expected. I stayed up last night to read it, pulling it down through my phone (3.6MB!).

    Hopefully there will be more games available soon, as it’s a little hard to justify the device unless more specialized apps show up soon. Speaking of which, I hope some of the games are adaptable to other large screen devices. I kind of suspected Julie would be less interested, given her cold reception of the T3, but she has a great device already and it takes more effort to impress someone who is currently satisfied.

    I lean more towards Judie’s side, enthusiasm-wise. This critter is built for fun and speed and seems to have the advantage over any other handheld right now regardless of platform. The deal breaker for me was the appearance and size, so yeah, I have to agree with you Julie on appearance.

    Judie, the settings in Kinoma are all wrong, which explains the tiny movie. To simplify things if storage space is no problem, just pick the T3(wide) default setting, then change FPS to “best”, bit rate to 1500, audio format to “stereo”, sample rate to 44.100 kHz, compression “2:1″, and no audio boost.

    You can save this as a preset and it should give you decent video/audio for Zod playback. One thing to watch out for is doing a video when the original is smaller than 480×320… Kinoma tries to expand the picture (which it should), but the results are not always pretty. The T3 can stream these files from the card fine at 50 FPS, so the Zod should do even better.

    The problem I have is that my laptop capture hardware is not good enough. When I have jerkiness, I’ll go back to the original rip and find it just as jerky on my laptop. Guess I’ll have to go shopping to fix that!

    Anyway, I’ll let you two get back to business. My son has been drooling over the Zod… guess I’ll let him read your review when I get home as a substitute. :cool:

    13
  • v0gu3b0y November 14, 2003, 5:26 pm

    So you didnt have the now-famous joystick problem? (http://tinyurl.com/v0nr)

    14
  • Julie November 14, 2003, 7:27 pm

    Scott R and Altema:

    Regarding size and using the Zod in portrait mode, it just feels strange to me. The unit is just a smidge too wide to feel comfortable… And I have large hands.

    Altema:

    There is much that did impress me with the Zod. I don’t want to come off as hating it, because I don’t. It’s just not going to unseat my HP2215 right now. That said, if there were a bunch of really cool games available now, I would probably change my mind about it. Neverwinter nights or any other FRPG could get my attention big time.

    v0gu3b0y:

    Neither of us have had any problems with the joystick yet.

    15
  • Altema November 14, 2003, 7:48 pm

    Originally posted by Julie
    [B]

    Altema:

    There is much that did impress me with the Zod. I don’t want to come off as hating it, because I don’t. It’s just not going to unseat my HP2215 right now.[/B]

    I know you did not hate it, it’s just that you have something you already like. I think we’re on the same channel… it’s good, but hard to justify a change at this time. :D

    16
  • palm_otaku November 14, 2003, 8:39 pm

    A nicely detailed review. I got mine a week ago too, and would like to address several points:

    JS: “…but not a PDA that Joe Corporate would be comfortable whipping out in a meeting.”
    DR: Pfft. IMNSHO – the Zod is perfectly suitable for use in a business environment – understated coloring and beautiful build quality – it is a *classy* piece of hardware. No snide “GameBoy” comments to report so far – in fact, just about everyone who has seen it wants one ;) Also, I’ve got no problems with pocketability (I’m a front left pant pocket carrier) – while a little long, it is nice and slim :)

    JS: “it might be nice if there was a way to slow down the speed in the launcher application as just pressing it in the direction of an application will launch that app, whether that is what you had intended or not.”
    DR: Um, that is how it is designed to work — you can rotate the joystick around the periphery to any of the 8 ‘nodes’ and then release to launch. As an old ‘piloteer’ who has tried most 3rd party launchers, I find that once you get used to it, it is actually not too bad: the ‘Home’ hardware button is a notable and useful feature; the ‘spoke’ method provides user quick access to 64 apps; nice drag and drop organization too. I’ll be trying ZLauncher on it soon tho ;)

    JC: “The Function button is pretty much worthless”
    DR: I wouldn’t be so quick on that – it cycles through the different views/categories in the PIM apps and has other functions in the tapwave Photos, Music and Clock apps. Expect to see 3rd party apps take advantage of this as they are updated for the Zod.

    JC: (The D-pad buttons) “will only launch the programmed applications when you are in the Launcher view, which may not seem like a big deal, but it feels like a major oversight when you want to launch something from an open application”
    DR: Press the Home button and a D-pad button – there, that wasn’t so bad, was it? ;-)

    JS: “They also do not power the device on when pressed”
    DR: Which is a “good thing” — don’t want it powering on in your pocket ;)

    JS: “I wish the Zod had included WiFi instead of Bluetooth”
    DR: Hmm, maybe — but one of the killer features of the Zod is setting up a Bt-piconet for head-to-head gaming. WiFi is the wrong tool for that for various reasons. That being said, I’m eagerly looking forward to a fast WiFi SDcard <g>

    DR: I’m surprised that you both gloss over both the huge 128MB RAM but also of interest, the “Internal Card” feature that lets you install any kind of file (e.g. mp3, jpeg etc.) into RAM. Very cool and innovative addition.

    JC: “as we all know – you can’t sync a CLIÉ and any other Palm OS PDA on the same computer”
    DR: Sorry, but that is just nonsense — I sync several Clies (from the S300 up to NX70V) and numerous Palms plus Visors and treos and danas and a Kyocera and Handeras and… …and now Zodiac too. I suspect your USB drivers are messed up.

    JC: “May I say yet again, that I miss classic Graffiti?”
    DR: Me too! That’s why I figured out the work-around – search the Yahoo group tapwave_users for “Graffiti Classic” or check zodiacgamer.com for the repost for details.

    JC: (re: G2) “I’ll get used to it eventually…I can evolve.”
    DR: Why would you want to DEvolve? IMNSHO, G2 is very inefficient and cumbersome – particularly for extended characters etc. Just say No! to “Jot Lite” <g>

    JS: “Ok, here comes a big rant… The Zodiac ships with Palm OS 5.2.6 right? That’s actually a later version than what is shipped with the Tungsten|T3. Although Zodiac’s version of the OS comes with some of the same great new features, such as the rotating display, and soft input area, it is missing some major things in my opinion! The very useful agenda view in the Calendar application is missing, and more importantly Memos still have the 4K limit! Very disappointing…”
    DR: Tsk – you’re way off base here – the ‘enhancements’ on the T3 were developed by palmOne, not PalmSource – so these are not shared with other Licensees.

    DR: Kinoma – not sure why you’re dissin’ it so bad – with good source material, and knowing how to use the Producer program (there is a manual btw…) I’ve made some full-screen videos that are *stunning*. Hint: try the “Zodiac: Best” setting ;)

    JS: “I don’t think that the majority of adults that are in the market for a PDA will even go for this device. And since it’s way more expensive than Nintendo’s Game Boy SP, it’s hard to envision many kids coming up with the cash to buy them.”
    DR: Heh, well I suppose we’ll see how your market analysis / prediction stands up over the next several months – apparently Tapwave is having trouble keeping up with demand – and this is with this startup’s ‘soft launch’.

    JS: “Ok, when it comes right down to it, I love the hardware specs of this device, but I’m just totally over the OS… ”
    DR: It is considerate that you state your current platform bias upfront… I guess that means the end of unbiased PalmOS reviews from you? Pity.

    JC: “DateBK5 – I loaded v5.1a, s1 and it does not support widescreen”
    DR: Try v5.1a SE. I’m beta-testing a number of 3rd party apps that are being updated for the Z – including DateBk5, Snappermail, FileMan3 and some killer games. Full-screen * rotatable rules! :) I’m thrilled with my Zodiac!

    Cheers,

    Dan

    PS Very cool to see that the emulator community has also fallen in love with the ‘Z’. And watch for some awesome games coming out ‘real soon now’ !

    17
  • coolmos November 14, 2003, 9:21 pm

    Hi Judie, Julie,

    This is truly a GREAT review. Almost every aspect of the Z was tackled and discussed.

    Maybe i can add a little technical background ?

    The mp3 player was specifically designed to give the best audio quality. For that reason, it does not play mp3 in the background. It needs all processing power to maintain the quality. As you noticed there are other player that do support background mp3.

    Why not 2 SDIO slots. The left slot (SD only) is internally connected to the W4200 ATI chip. This chip does not support SDIO, if this is indeed a 3200 with 8M Video RAM. The maximum Read/Write speed is 10MB/second, which is about the rate of the current cards (more info here ).
    The right slot (SDIO) is connected to the Motorola processor. This processor also supports only one slot, at a speed of 20 – 80Mbps = 10MB/second (more info here , page 7). Both slots of course also accept MMC.
    One strange thing: the Motorola processor also support Memory Stick. Somehow Tapwave did not include this option…..
    (The next Motorola processor i.MX21 does support 2 SDIO slots, no Memory stick but CF support instead. Interesting :-)

    If you need to use the device as a remote, there is an SDIO remote controller. Go to
    Zodiacgamer and look for the SDIO roundup in the articles section.
    Remember, the Zodiac was designed with gaming in mind. Everything that could make the gaming experience less impressive (WiFi, camera, IR remote) was not included because battery life goes down the drain with these options. Yes, both the ATI chip and the processor do have a camera port. The first rumours of an included camera might have been true…back then.

    One thing about the sound. The current Software Developers Kit does not support the Yamaha chip, so you can not write applications that use that chip at the moment. Of course this will come in later versions. That might be the reason that some sounds are not what you expected. This will change. Somewhere down the road there probably will be a sofware upgrade for the Zodiac to give you polyphonic tones and 16 MIDI channels of Beethoven, or whatever you like.

    Classic graffiti. It is possible to put classic graffiti back on, although it does not fully function. Important parts work though.
    Search for it on the Yahoo users group somewhere.

    18
  • Julie November 14, 2003, 11:13 pm

    Originally posted by palm_otaku
    [B]
    JS: “Ok, when it comes right down to it, I love the hardware specs of this device, but I’m just totally over the OS… ”
    DR: It is considerate that you state your current platform bias upfront… I guess that means the end of unbiased PalmOS reviews from you? Pity.
    [/B]

    Ummmm… Just because I’m not ditching my current Pocket PC in favor of the Zodiac, that does not mean that I am unable to write unbiased PalmOS reviews. I think I am very even handed when it comes to reviewing devices from any platform.

    19
  • Palm_iiic November 14, 2003, 11:35 pm

    I have a 2800mhz homebuilt Athlon system, an 800mhz homebuilt Athlon system and a Crusoe notebook on my home network. The 2800mhz machine is my main computer, and the one that all my PDAs sync to.

    To my knowledge, there is no 2800mhz Athlon, or any Advanced Micro Devices Chip faster than 2250mhz. This was the 2800+. To confuse this matter, AMD then came out with another 2800+, part of the “Barton” series, which ran 2080mhz. The 3000+ (2.1 or 2.17Ghz) and 3200+ (2.2Ghz) ran slower, but had performance-enhancing features such as 512KB L2 cache, and a 166(333DDR) or 200(400DDR) fronside bus. If the computer is truly homebuilt, then shouldn’t you know its speed? After all, when configuring the BIOS for the abnormal 333Mhz frontside bus speed of either 2800+, it would display the CPU frequency settings. Unless you overclocked it with a vapour-phase-change cooling solution, this isn’t possible.

    20
  • 10basetom November 15, 2003, 12:23 am

    Originally posted by coolmos
    The right slot (SDIO) is connected to the Motorola processor. This processor also supports only one slot, but at a speed of 20 – 80Mbps.

    20-80 Mbps or MBps? if you meant 20-80 megabytes/second (MBps), then that is hella fast. but of course 80MB is probably a theoretical limit.

    21
  • ExtremeSIMS November 15, 2003, 12:38 am

    Good review – I enjoyed the dueling views. As a gamer, the Zodiac really appeals to me. The landscape view will be killer when it comes to RPGs and RTS titles. I’ve thought about a GBA SP, but the device always seemed “childlike” to me.

    Julie – I recently switched to Palm OS from many years with the Pocket PC. I thought I would miss the multitasking and multimedia capability, but I have not (so far). I do miss more than 160×160, though. That’s the price for moving to the Treo 600.

    I wish I could see what Neverwinter Nights looks like on the Zodiac! More games would sell me!

    22
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 1:10 am

    To those with the suggestions about Kinoma and my settings:

    I did as you suggested and used the advanced settings (Zodiac Best) to much better effect.

    I’m still not going to make it a regular habit to watch “movies” on my Zod, but this at least makes it fun. ;)

    Thanks!
    Judie :0)

    23
  • Julie November 15, 2003, 1:18 am

    Palm_iiic:

    You’re right, the speed of the processor on my main PC is 2800+ and not 2800mhz. Yes, I should know the speed of my own PC, since I was the one that built it. FYI: Judie and I were up writing that review till after midnight last night, so cut me some slack. :p

    24
  • jonruselle November 15, 2003, 3:29 am

    Hi, I actually emailed you guys way back when I had a NR70 with MS problems. Now I have a NX70 and now crazy with my Zodiac2. I am a Gamer/PDA user and the Z is amazing. IMHO, I think you need to have the heart of a gamer to truly appreciate Tapwave’s innovation. I believe Judie has the appreciation for it more. Both of you had a very thorough review on it. I saw the link on the Zodiacgamer.com forums. Most of the members there did not even know you guys, but I educated them about your good reviews. I don’t agree about it being too gameboyish, since I have been taking it to work everyday. Even my superiors thought it was sleek. Of course, I am not going to play games during meetings. I do agree on the bad location for the stylus and hating G2. Screen protector is a must for such a great screen. If Tapwave markets this right, its going to give Nintendo a run for its money, but it is doubtful ’cause the PSP is around the corner too. This thing fits nicely in my front pocket, better feel than my bulky NX70. I’m sure you know that positive buzz the Z has been creating in the gadget world. The Z will only get better and most likely integrate stuff like wifi and camera on the back. We will have to cough up extra cash for this. I have a good feeling about the Z and only time will tell. Judie, come and join us on the zodiac gamer forums. You are the first female I know who has and like the Z (you rock!)

    25
  • jonruselle November 15, 2003, 4:03 am

    Wow, I just read the past postings and Julie, folks with Zs are kinda rough on you with the views you took . I guess it comes with the territory. Bottom line: The best PDA will always be in the eyes of the user. Enjoy your HP PPC, and we will enjoy our Zs. My Clie is currently collecting dust.

    26
  • Altema November 15, 2003, 4:20 am

    Originally posted by Judie
    …used the advanced settings (Zodiac Best) to much better effect.

    “Zodiac Best”? Hmm, they must have updated the producer again. My Kinoma was updated a couple weeks ago and did not have the Zod among the selections. Sorry, if I’d known, I would not have confused things with the modified T3 settings :o

    I started with the T3 defaults for the Zod because they were the closest siblings, hardware-wise.

    Btw: When you go to add a clip, you can hold down the control key and make random selections with the mouse, then hit enter and Kinoma will grab whatever files you selected for batch processing. Oh, there’s a snippet from “Finding Nemo” that relates to that last clip I sent you and Steve. I’ll grab it when I find the remote for the DVD player.

    27
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 4:26 am

    Altema, I am using the version that came with the Tapwave, so that may be why I have the specific setting.

    jonruselle, I just joined. :0)

    28
  • ExtremeSIMS November 15, 2003, 4:30 am

    Originally posted by jonruselle
    Wow, I just read the past postings and Julie, folks with Zs are kinda rough on you with the views you took . I guess it comes with the territory. Bottom line: The best PDA will always be in the eyes of the user. Enjoy your HP PPC, and we will enjoy our Zs. My Clie is currently collecting dust.

    People always want to feel good about their purchases. :) I think you ladies did a good job.

    Heck, the reviewer (Julie? Judie?) did not like the Treo 600 much. The review WAS good enough for me to decide it was what I wanted.

    29
  • Altema November 15, 2003, 4:33 am

    Originally posted by coolmos
    The mp3 player was specifically designed to give the best audio quality. For that reason, it does not play mp3 in the background. It needs all processing power to maintain the quality. As you noticed there are other player that do support background mp3.

    Quite interesting. I have not seen any quality compromises on some apps which do background playback, even when played over an 18,000 watt system. It would be interesting to do a comparison with a lab spectrum analyzer.

    30
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 4:33 am

    Originally posted by ExtremeSIMS
    Heck, the reviewer (Julie? Judie?) did not like the Treo 600 much. The review WAS good enough for me to decide it was what I wanted.

    That would be me…and I did like it – just not enough to buy and keep one. ;)

    31
  • ExtremeSIMS November 15, 2003, 4:53 am

    Originally posted by Judie
    That would be me…and I did like it – just not enough to buy and keep one. ;)

    :) Ok. I should have said loved it enough to keep it.

    32
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 4:54 am

    There ya go :)

    33
  • ExtremeSIMS November 15, 2003, 4:57 am

    Sorry for the quick, short replies, but this popped into my head:

    1) Has anyone tried this with a Mac and iSync yet just for the PDA side?

    2) Judie – do you have any info about forthcoming games?

    34
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 5:02 am

    The only info I have is what’s on their site. You should watch some of the Zodiac specific sites that are cropping up – they will know earliest, I bet.

    In the meantime, as you all hear of cool games, please keep the rest of us posted!

    35
  • palm_otaku November 15, 2003, 8:54 am

    Originally posted by Julie
    Ummmm… Just because I’m not ditching my current Pocket PC in favor of the Zodiac, that does not mean that I am unable to write unbiased PalmOS reviews. I think I am very even handed when it comes to reviewing devices from any platform.

    Sorry – that came across way harsher than intended – I always enjoy reading your POV on toys :) Friends?

    I’d love to know what you mean when you say you’re “just totally over the OS”.

    Cheers,

    Dan

    36
  • Julie November 15, 2003, 1:52 pm

    Originally posted by jonruselle
    Wow, I just read the past postings and Julie, folks with Zs are kinda rough on you with the views you took . I guess it comes with the territory. Bottom line: The best PDA will always be in the eyes of the user. Enjoy your HP PPC, and we will enjoy our Zs. My Clie is currently collecting dust.

    :) You are right, it does come with the territory when you’re a product reviewer. It’s a good thing my skin is not that thin ;)

    I’ve had several emails from people that do understand where I’m coming from.

    As my Mom used to always say “To everybody’s own liking, when the man kissed the cow”…

    37
  • Julie November 15, 2003, 2:02 pm

    Originally posted by palm_otaku
    [B]Sorry – that came across way harsher than intended – I always enjoy reading your POV on toys :) Friends?

    I’d love to know what you mean when you say you’re “just totally over the OS”.
    [/B]

    I’m just bored with the overall feel and functionality of Palm OS right now. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not giving me any enjoyment.

    PDA platforms are just like desktop computer OS / platforms where people gravitate towards either Mac, PC or Linux based on a combination of both hardware AND software.

    Right now, I’m in the Pocket PC camp. That doesn’t mean I won’t hop back into the Palm camp, or even the Linux PDA camp, just as soon as I see something that sparks my interest. :)

    38
  • Gendou November 15, 2003, 3:23 pm

    The review I’ve been eagerly awaiting. I linked up to you on zodiacfan.com as soon as the review came up.
    Excellent as always . . .

    39
  • mkshbck November 15, 2003, 4:16 pm

    I wish the Zod had included WiFi instead of Bluetooth… Surfing the web wirelessly would be great on this device! I completely agree! While I understand that Tapwave was thinking of networking game players, I wish they could have thrown in the WiFi module, too…or instead of! Ah well, that’s the beauty of the SDIO slot, I guess…

    I disagree, I’m sure the designers were trying to hit a cost target and WiFi would have added $ to the total cost. Also the Zod has a clearly defined purpose where I dont think WiFi fits in (as you’ve stated).

    I’ve been experimenting with WiFi versus Bluetooth on PDAs for a data entry app I am writing for work (I’m a software engineer). WiFi sucks for PDAs in my opinion because it barrels through the battery. The common misconception is that WiFi and BT are direct competitors, they’re not. For surfing the net on my laptop I’d choose WiFi hands down. But any one who wants to surf the net on a PDA (or a phone for that matter) for an extended period needs a sanity check. Further, on the PDA I’d think twice about how far from a power source I want to be. The battery on the Zodiac is awsome but gaming on a road trip with WiFi is definately out.

    40
  • TechnoCat November 15, 2003, 6:24 pm

    Originally posted by Judie
    Really??? Tell me how! :)

    It hasn’t posed any problem. Installed the Sony version of the desktop, sync’d with the UX50, turned on serial, synced with the IIIc. I have different hotsync names on them, but they work fine together.

    Maybe it’s a versioning issue. The desktop is new because UX50 is pretty new; I got mine in early September. Ironically, not so much to replace the IIIc but more to replace the HP 95/100/200LX palmtops. With ZLauncher and KeyQuick, the UX50 is pretty much perfect.

    Back to hotsyncing, Palm Desktop 4 stores relevant data in the registry and expects to find it there. This was new and a “good thing” except that it broke some code some of us had written. The current version, 4.1, changed it and added even more to the registry. That’s probably how Zodiac knew where to install and got along with everything fine.

    BTW, I appreciated the detailed review of the Zodiac. I’m not interested in one (and we get everything! Just within reach I have a 95LX, 200LX, PC110 (hi, Julie!), Zire 71, two iPaqs, IIIc, several Sharps, a DataStor and a bunch of pda-equipped moron-phones. (Not really smart-phones, but with PDA functions.) But it sounds like a neat product.

    41
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 6:30 pm

    Hmmmm – what I will do then is try syncing my CLIE with this latest (Tapwave) version of Desktop. If it works, then you will be my new hero. :)

    I have never (with past versions) been able to get a Sony to sync with other Palms running on any desktop. If that issue is fixed, then I will be one VERY happy camper! I can’t tell you what a pain it can be to work around that when testing new PDAs.

    Judie :0)

    42
  • mattp9 November 15, 2003, 8:21 pm

    Congratulations and many thanks to both Julie and Judie for their detailed and satisfying review.

    If Tapwave will take this screen and specs, and turn out a more traditional PDA – less game-like – I would be more inclinec to get it. I wish for an alternative to the Sony UX-50 with an attached keyboard. Something like the Sharp units that are only in Japan for some reason (not Palm).

    I wonder when someone will put out a Linux based unit, like the Sharps that can also use much of the Palm software catalog via an emulator? :rolleyes:

    43
  • dequardo November 15, 2003, 10:00 pm

    Originally posted by Judie
    [B]Hmmmm – what I will do then is try syncing my CLIE with this latest (Tapwave) version of Desktop. If it works, then you will be my new hero. :)

    I have never (with past versions) been able to get a Sony to sync with other Palms running on any desktop. If that issue is fixed, then I will be one VERY happy camper! I can’t tell you what a pain it can be to work around that when testing new PDAs.

    Judie :0) [/B]

    I’m pretty sure the Clie needs the Sony version of Hotsync. The poster is saying then that non-Clie’s will work with it also-not the other way around.

    Mike

    44
  • Judie November 15, 2003, 10:39 pm

    Hmmmmm – well then, I may wait and try it with a newer version when I get my next CLIE. ;)

    45
  • TechnoCat November 15, 2003, 11:38 pm

    Originally posted by dequardo
    I’m pretty sure the Clie needs the Sony version of Hotsync. The poster is saying then that non-Clie’s will work with it also-not the other way around.

    That is what I was saying, but I can test the other way in an hour or so. :D

    We have, as I said, a Zire 71 also and are setting up Palm Desktop (and everything else) for that system as a result of a general computer shuffle in the house. (Poor old system was way overloaded by me. Got a new Sony RS430G with lots of memory slots – CF, SD, MS Pro, two DVD drives, and even gets cable!) and am reconfiguring pretty much everything as a result.

    Hadn’t thought to try the UX on the results, but perhaps by tomorrow I’ll post the effect.

    46
  • nonicknamebrian November 16, 2003, 8:16 am

    Add me to the heap: super review! …Did I detect a touch of the enthusiasm from that golden era when everything the industry made seemed new and exciting?

    As for the “IMNSHO” guy telling us all in no uncertain terms how he would have written your review for you… sorry he couldn’t have been a tad more polite or gracious. (Is it possible to take a stranger’s PDA review a little too seriously?)

    So on behalf of your readers, may your candid style and honest reflection never be dimished by unheeled and unduly pointed criticism. If I tell the world I like a car because it’s red, and then I tell them why that is, why is there always someone out there who has to “fix” me? Why can’t I just like red cars? :)

    Brian

    47
  • Julie November 16, 2003, 4:05 pm

    nonicknamebrian:

    I couldn’t have said it any better! :D Thank you!

    So here it is Sunday morning. I’m sipping my tea and starting at the Zod sitting on my desk. I’m trying to decide if I should return it to Tapwave for a refund, or keep it in the hopes some really cool game or app will come out for it that will make me want to dump my HP2215 in favor of it.

    Decisions, Decisions :rolleyes:

    48
  • Altema November 16, 2003, 11:47 pm

    Originally posted by nonicknamebrian
    [B]
    So on behalf of your readers, may your candid style and honest reflection never be dimished by unheeled and unduly pointed criticism. If I tell the world I like a car because it’s red, and then I tell them why that is, why is there always someone out there who has to “fix” me? Why can’t I just like red cars? :)

    Brian [/B]

    Amen.

    49
  • jonruselle November 17, 2003, 2:55 am

    I hope you would keep it Julie, and you too Judie. It would be cool to communicate with the both of you regarding games. IMHO, the Z will eventually come up with great games since it has the engine for it. I’m loving mine right now. I take it to work everyday. I even let my pediatric patients at the hospital play with it as long as I’m standing there. It seems to be taking the pounding too. I cringe everytime I see the analog controller twist in the hands of an 11 year old, but so far so good. The kids love Stuntcar Extreme too.

    50
  • Judie November 17, 2003, 3:37 am

    No fear, I am definitely keeping mine! So you can expect accessory reviews as they become available! :0)

    51
  • ExtremeSIMS November 17, 2003, 3:42 am

    Must….. resist….. Just bought Treo 600…. Can not take more money from the G5 fund….

    52
  • Judie November 17, 2003, 3:54 am

    It is useless to resist… ;)

    53
  • alex_mayorga November 17, 2003, 8:15 am

    Originally posted by ExtremeSIMS
    Must….. resist….. Just bought Treo 600…. Can not take more money from the G5 fund….

    I know that this comparison may sound weird, I’d would like to get the Treo mainly to join my SMS friends bandwagon, I currently don’t own a cell phone, and here in Mexico SMS are more used than voice calls. But the Zodiac looks really tempting.

    So would you please write about sending SMS from the Zodiac trough a bluetooth phone? And also point me to a phone that would be really small, GSM, and bluetooth enabled?

    I was also considering the T|3 but this zodiac seems to put it to a shame

    I’m goin to the US this Christmas, so I can get a new gadget with my hard saved money, I’m a poor student you know :p

    So please help me, what should I choose :confused:

    I’m between Treo 600, Zodiac2+cell, T|3+cell, or maybe go to “the dark side” and get one of the new ands slim HPs.

    By the way I was thinking that it would be cool if you made a pair review of something like Palm OS vs Pocket PC as things are now and tell us why do you go from Zen to dark side and viceversa. I know it is a Pandora’s box but a humorous and light review would be really cool and enlightening to people like me that can’t afford switching platforms or even devices every 6 months :( just remember to tell the people to stay cool with their post.

    To help you see my point, I’m currently going with my 2 years old m130 :D

    Also would like to know if the 3 devices listed before do support the pocketop keyboard as I put some hard cash on it on the hope to no swith it very often.

    Thank you so much and hope you can help me, I know its a personal decision but maybe I won’t be able to test drive all the devices to my hearts content in a store.

    GREAT REVIEW AS ALWAYS

    excuse the grammar/spelling errors

    54
  • Scott R November 17, 2003, 2:23 pm

    alex_mayorga, if you must have the smallest phone possible, I think the Sony-Ericsson T610/616 (I think these are the same?) would be your best bet. If you don’t mind carrying something a bit bigger, I like the Nokia 3650 because it’s known to have better reception and the quality of photos taken with its built-in camera are better than the Sony-Ericssons’. What service provider do you have in Mexico?

    The Pocketop keyboard should work with the Palm OS, PPC, and even the Nokia 3650 (thanks to someone who goes by the handle potatoho – I don’t have a direct link to his driver handy, but can dig it up if you need it). BTW, he also created a driver for the Nokia 3650 for palmOne’s IR keyboard, which actually looks a bit nicer, but chances for a PPC driver for that keyboard seem doubtful at the moment.

    BTW, I recently bought an HP iPaq h4150 and my Zodiac 1 should arrive this week. My older devices are a Treo 300 (still in service until I decide what to get) and an old iPaq 3630. I’ve been wanting to write up a comparison of the PPC vs Palm OS for a long time, but now that I will have two state-of-the-art devices for both platforms, I definitely plan to do this fairly soon (probably on goodthatway.com).

    Scott

    55
  • alex_mayorga November 17, 2003, 5:40 pm

    Thank you for your timely response.

    The provider with better coverage down here in Zacatecas is Telcel.

    I’ll check those phones, if I really ned the camera I think I should go for the treo 600, but is a lot of cash, and the Zodiac looks really tempting.

    Do you have the phone prices handy? Also if I get the Zodiac I’ll wish a really phone centric device, just voice calls and bluetooth, I don’t want a phone with great functions that I wouldn’t use because of having a great handheld.

    I’ll really like to see a deatmach between a Palm and PPC device in the same price range and feature set from a person that had used both devices for two months or so.

    I will really appreciate any help with this decission on what to spend my really hard saved cash.

    Also do you know of a store in the Santana, Calif. area were I can test drive as many devices as I can to set up my mind. I’ll be there in Christmas.

    Also, is it a good idea to buy gadgets in this season or it is better to wayt for better prices after new year?

    56
  • Scott R November 17, 2003, 5:53 pm

    Alex, I’m not familiar with CA (I’m on the East coast), and you’ll be needing an unlocked phone, so many of the great deals in the US won’t apply. The T610/616 will probably set you back around $300 unlocked. You’ll need to make sure you get a phone that can be easily unlocked if it comes SIM-locked, and make sure you get one that uses the proper frequency range, which probably means avoiding the 850 band phones, since those are probably specific to the US market. Beyond that, I won’t be able to help you much, other than to suggest you check out howardforums.com as there is a ton of information about cell phones there.

    Scott

    57
  • Mark Hammill November 18, 2003, 3:00 am

    Hi everyone.

    If anyone is interested, we have already designed a new stylus for the zodiac.

    It hasn’t been prototyped yet, but if there is a potential demand we should turn it around in a couple of months.

    It is likely to be released for under $25 and be made from solid aluminium.

    58
  • Judie November 18, 2003, 3:08 am

    Mark,

    When you are ready, you know that I will be happy to review it – it looks great!

    Judie :0)

    59
  • Mark Hammill November 18, 2003, 4:39 am

    Thanks Judie, that would be great :o)

    60
  • Scott R November 18, 2003, 3:41 pm

    For anyone who may be interested, I just posted an “initial impressions” article on my site about the Zodiac 1 (yeah, I’m frugal) that was finally delivered yesterday. I originally was going to hold off and write a more full-featured article, but I couldn’t resist. A more comprehensive review should be posted within a week.

    Here’s the direct link:
    http://tapland.com/news_arc/?id=53

    Scott

    61
  • Scott R November 18, 2003, 8:35 pm

    Question for those of you familiar with syncing multiple PDAs to one computer…

    I have my Treo 300, an HP iPaq h4155, and now my Zodiac 1. I’m not worried about the h4155 (should I be?) but do I need to do anything special to make sure the Treo 300 and Zodiac don’t mess eachother up, create duplicates, etc.? I haven’t installed the Zodiac desktop software yet, but am anxious to do that so that I can load up StuntCar Extreme, so the faster the responses the better. :)

    Scott

    62
  • ExtremeSIMS November 18, 2003, 9:06 pm

    Originally posted by Scott R
    [B]Question for those of you familiar with syncing multiple PDAs to one computer…

    I have my Treo 300, an HP iPaq h4155, and now my Zodiac 1. I’m not worried about the h4155 (should I be?) but do I need to do anything special to make sure the Treo 300 and Zodiac don’t mess eachother up, create duplicates, etc.? I haven’t installed the Zodiac desktop software yet, but am anxious to do that so that I can load up StuntCar Extreme, so the faster the responses the better. :)

    Scott [/B]

    Someone help Scott so he can finish his hands-on diary over at his site.

    63
  • dave_p_1 November 19, 2003, 7:32 pm

    Arrgh! I was all set to get the T3 when your Tapwave review came out.

    Any comments on the relative merits of the two devices for business and general (non-gaming) applications?

    Also, how much of Tapwave’s wide screen abilities are device vs. OS dependent? In other words, will we have to wait (as with various Clies) for a Tapwave specific fix to general (non-game) programs such as DateBk, HanDBase, or TomeRaider or will programs be able to support wide-screen capabilites for both the Tapwave and the T3 in a single fix?

    In any case, thanks for a great review, even if it does make my decision more complicated.

    Dave

    64
  • Judie November 19, 2003, 8:38 pm

    Head’s up everyone – there is already an update for the Zodiac! I just recieved this letter from Tapwave:

    Dear Judie Hughes,

    Thank you for purchasing a Tapwave Zodiac™ console.

    We are sending this email to let you know an important software update is now available for your Zodiac console. A small number of Zodiac consoles that have shipped do not have optimized software, which may cause the battery to run down more quickly. Our records indicate your console needs this update.

    To download an update that resolves this issue, please visit http://www.tapwave.com/support/rom_update_1103.asp. Please make sure to follow all instructions on this web page for backing up, downloading and installing the updated software.

    After reviewing the web instructions, if you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Tapwave support, via e-mail, live chat or telephone. Links to any of these services can be found at: http://www.tapwave.com/support/contact.asp.

    We want you to have the best possible experience with your Zodiac and apologize for the inconvenience.

    Sincerely,

    Dale Roberts
    Tapwave Customer Support

    I haven’t had any problem with battery life, but I will go ahead and install the update. I’ll keep you posted on any noticed changes…

    Judie :0)

    65
  • jonathanchoo November 24, 2003, 6:04 pm

    The new PIMs apps that are on the Tungsten T3 were developed by the palmone team for new palm sg/palmone products. This is why although the new OS in the Zodiac is slightly newer it does not have the new PIM apps. The PIMs apps belongs to Palmone now and they (rightly so) have the sole advantage to having a built-in PIM with out of the box compatibility with Microsoft Outlook and it is a selling point (it was for me – coming back from PocketPC I was only interested in a PDA that has a full Outlook support). Some of my friends are even ‘upgrading’ from the Tungsten T to a Tungsten E just for the new PIM apps.

    66
  • mattp9 April 13, 2004, 2:15 am

    Judie – Given your short experience with the Sony TH55 and the length of time you’ve had the Zod2 in every day use, how do you like the Zod2 as an every day carry Palm device? Is it as good a PIM as it may be a game device? Do you use it just like you would any other Palm for every day use? – Matt

    :confused:

    67
  • Judie April 13, 2004, 4:03 am

    Matt,

    My Zod is first of all a Palm organizer. It does everything any other Palm can do and it does it just as well or better. The biggest difference is that it has a gaming button layout instead of the traditional one.

    Judie :0)

    68
  • stevo836 April 28, 2004, 2:22 am

    Eh, update on the Zodiac…

    Soon an emulator called Little John Z will come out and it can emulate the NES, SNES, GB, and GBC. LJZ will be free, but will not be distributed to regular Zodiac users until a final version is released with Tapwave signing completed (signing means that Tapwave allows the program to be distributed-without signing, no application that uses the video or sound card in the Zodiac can be used by non-developers)

    Another emulator is called FirestormZ. This emulates the GB, GBC, and GBA. An update is soon coming that will update the emulator to GBA emulation. FirestormZ costs $20 on either the Crimson Fire store or the online software store, Handango.

    69
  • T1000X June 8, 2004, 3:05 am

    My TG50 is starting to fall apart, literally, and I’m looking at upgrading to a new Palm OS based PDA. I’m pretty much stuck with the Palm OS because I have so many items purchased for it (games, programs, ebooks) and I do not want to lose that investment. One of my biggest concerns is that it is too big to be pocketable, or pocket friendly. Does anyone know of a website with Zod Vs. TG50 or Zod Vs. T series Clie? Thanks!

    70
  • Scott R June 8, 2004, 3:10 am

    I didn’t have access to a CLIE, but long ago I put together this photo album which compares the Zodiac to just about everything else I could find around my house. ;)
    http://tapland.com/news_arc/?id=55

    Note that the Zodiac is bigger than all the other PDAs it’s compared to, but IMO it’s really quite pocketable, especially if you’re the daring type to just carry it in your pocket with just the stock flip-cover. If you do that, though, definitely make sure you have a screen protector on it, because the stock flip cover rests directly on the screen and can cause wear/scratches on the screen over time.

    Scott

    71
  • T1000X June 10, 2004, 1:15 am

    Thanks, Scott, for the help! From what I can tell, the Zodiac dimensionally speaking isn’t that much larger or longer than my current TG50. The TG50 is about five inches long, and the Zodiac isn’t much longer. The comparison on your site between the Gamecube Wavebird controller and the Zodiac was an awesome idea. It gives me a better idea of how much longer the Zodiac is then my TG50. Again, many thanks.

    72
  • PhilB June 25, 2004, 12:51 am

    :wow:
    Judie,

    Just a note of thanks for your (& Julie’s) great review of the Zodiac (I finally learned to spell it with a “C”) Anyway, with the demise of Sony’s Clie I felt left out (so far Palmone’s units leave me unimpressed) so I decided to try the Zodiac. Wow! The screen is great, the speed is nice, the controls are all quality. This is one nice piece of worksmanship. Now they’re even available in CompUSA and J&R Music right in the stores!! I would say you won your bet:D :D :D

    73
  • Judie June 25, 2004, 12:59 am

    Yes – now if someone will just come out with a USB/sync cable, a car charger and a fab case… :)

    74
  • PhilB June 26, 2004, 12:15 am

    Yes, sign me up for one as well…Now back to Spyhunter:D :D :D

    75
  • kentv999 June 29, 2004, 6:33 pm

    I might be in the market for a new unit…. Any rumours on an update to the Tapwave PDA? This looks like something I might be interested in, although I’m a bit concerned about the size.

    I’d hate to buy one and find out a month later a “later/greater” model is announced.

    Thanks.. .

    Kent

    76
  • Scott R June 29, 2004, 10:41 pm

    Kent, Tapwave has claimed that they have no plans for any updated models this year. Whether or not someone else will come out with a better device a month from now, I have no idea. As far as the size issue, I suggest you go down to your local CompUSA (or J&R if you’re near NYC) as you should be able to find a display model and be able to see how big/small it is before buying.

    Scott

    77
  • kentv999 August 24, 2004, 2:21 am

    Well, I finally tried one out at CompUSA recently. Pretty se#y device, if you ask me. Very nice screen, great input devices. But I really struggle with the idea of the size and using it in an office setting. I currently use my Palm 505 at the office, no problem. But the Zod, I’m not so sure how much cr#p I’ll take pulling that out to take notes on.

    I’d be really interested in hearing back from traditional Palm owners who switched over to the ‘zod.

    Kent

    78
  • blue_quartz October 29, 2004, 2:14 pm

    Hello there! I’ll probably get the Zodiac 1 in Singapore this weekend but before that I would like to have some questions on it answered by you people here. Many thanks in advance.

    1) What’s the name and version of the web browser that’s supplied with the Zodiac? Does it support wide-screen browsing?

    2) Does the bundled Photos app display photos in their full size? If someone were to Bluetooth a picture to the Zodiac, will the Photos app ‘intercept’ it and store it in its database?

    3) Does the Zodiac lag considerably when playing music in the background?

    79
  • somas1 November 2, 2004, 12:29 pm

    kentv999 wrote:

    Well, I finally tried one out at CompUSA recently. Pretty se#y device, if you ask me. Very nice screen, great input devices. But I really struggle with the idea of the size and using it in an office setting. I currently use my Palm 505 at the office, no problem. But the Zod, I’m not so sure how much cr#p I’ll take pulling that out to take notes on.

    I’d be really interested in hearing back from traditional Palm owners who switched over to the ‘zod.

    Kent

    I use my Zod at work all the time and no one at work has thought the zod is anything other than a “Palm Pilot.” I think a lot of people fool themselves by saying that the T3 or the HP Ipaq look really professional. To an uneducated person, they all look like toys. The only way anyone will know that this is a handheld meant for gaming is if they see you playing games on it or if they now a lot about handhelds in general.

    80
  • somas1 November 2, 2004, 12:35 pm

    blue_quartz wrote:

    Hello there! I’ll probably get the Zodiac 1 in Singapore this weekend but before that I would like to have some questions on it answered by you people here. Many thanks in advance.

    1) What’s the name and version of the web browser that’s supplied with the Zodiac? Does it support wide-screen browsing?

    2) Does the bundled Photos app display photos in their full size? If someone were to Bluetooth a picture to the Zodiac, will the Photos app ‘intercept’ it and store it in its database?

    3) Does the Zodiac lag considerably when playing music in the background?

    1) The broswer is the OS 5 version of Palmsource’s Web Browser Pro. Widescreen browsing is supported (by default).

    2) I think the pictures are scaled down to fit the screen of the Zodiac. Beaming via bluetooth and IR should work fine. I’ve used Filez to beam dbs from my old Clie to my Zodiac.

    3) The Zodiac has a dedicated Yamaha DSP audio chip. The Motorola processor should not have to dedicate any cycles to audio.

    81
  • hrlaser November 13, 2004, 3:01 am

    Tapwave has fixed the problem with the “falling out all the time” sync connectors and made more positive-click-in ones. Zodiacs on store shelves, depending on what store, and how many they’ve sold, could have either type. Looking at the busiess end of the cable, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference, but my review unit Zodiac 2 (which says “First Edition” on the back) came with the falling out all the time cables, which Tapwave sent me replaceents for.. the new cable locks in with a click and stays in as it should..

    By the way, I just submitted my review of palmOne’s new T5 to the magazine.. it’s exactly the same price as the Zodiac 2. Ask me which I’d rather have, if I had to make a choice.. :D

    (Hint: it starts with a “Z”)..

    Harv
    PalmOS Platform Editor
    Handheld Computing Magazine

    82
  • hrlaser November 13, 2004, 3:43 am

    blue_quartz wrote:

    3) Does the Zodiac lag considerably when playing music in the background?

    Lag? The Zodiac is absurdly overpowered. Nothing on it lags. Nothing. I wish the built-in .MP3 player had more tone controls or an equalizer, though.. all it has is “bass boost” but it’s still quite good.. at least in comparison to something like the PalmOS tiny-mode Real Player, which uhh.. sucks..

    Then again, unless you have a seriously huge capacity SD card shoved into it, even the Zodiac 2 with 128 meg internal isn’t going to hold a whole lot of .MP3s anyway. I put some of my favorite show-off tracks on mine just to demo it to friends.

    And not out of its tiny speakers, or horrible earbuds (whoever invented earbuds (not specifically Tapwave’s.. I mean ALL earbuds).. should be stripped naked and spanked in a public place)..

    Get some real headphones. I’ve been using Sony MDR-V6 cans for over fifteen years.. if you can find better sounding headphones under $100.00, I’ll eat them..

    However, in places where headphones are not appropriate (or legal, like when driving..) then::

    Run, do not walk to http://www.myirock.com/players/irock450fm.asp and check out the new irock! Beamit 450FM.. this is my favorite new gadget / gizmo / widget.. absolutely brilliant.. plug it into ANY device with a headphone jack and wirelessly broadcast its audio output to any FM radio / stereo / hifi / boombox / car stereo up to 30 feet away, on your choice of 100 different FM frequencies.. take whatever PDA / player you own to a friend’s house, tune their hifi and your Beamit to the same FM frequeny, and broadcast your .MP3s through their stereo and watch their jaws hit the floor.. :D

    Harv
    (Opinions’R’Us)..

    83
  • Judie November 13, 2004, 4:12 am
    84
  • JohnKes July 27, 2005, 5:24 pm

    Background for Gadgeteers who are still Zodiac users:
    http://zbacks.com/details.php?image_id=619&mode=search

    85
  • Judie July 27, 2005, 5:39 pm

    Did you do that? It looks really great! :0)

    86
  • JohnKes July 27, 2005, 6:13 pm

    I wish …

    The person goes by the name Kam on the Tapland boards:
    http://www.tapland.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5202

    I am currently using a background based on the entry for Earth in the Hitchhikers Guide movie:
    http://www.emuboards.com/invision/index.php?showtopic=20414

    87
  • Judie July 27, 2005, 6:21 pm

    I just made a Pocket PC theme with the gear picture – thanks for pointing it out. :0)

    88
  • kentv999 July 29, 2005, 3:45 am

    Happened to drop by the Tapwave site… Maybe everyone already knew this, but it was news to me:

    “…We are sorry to inform you that the Zodiac business was discontinued and service and support are no longer available as of July 25th 2005…”

    Too bad.. looked like a good product. Seems like they failed to get the developers on board from what I could tell.

    Kent

    89

Leave a Comment