Yearlong Look back at the Tungsten|C Article



The unthinkable recently happened to me. I had my Tungsten C stolen from me in broad daylight. Hope was lost. Fortunately, thanks to a past Gadgeteer article “Insuring your Gadgets” I had added a ridiculously cheap (far cheaper than a good case) endorsement in my renters insurance policy for my Palm, so it was fully insured, replacement cost, with no deductible. America was pulling together again.

So here I was, needing to have a Palm overnighted to me as soon as humanly possible. I know tech, but I’m not a techie. I’m a business professional, and throughout my day I’m collecting phone numbers, jotting down thoughts, and need access to all my databases. I’ve been a little clueless for a while now, but my IQ was being reduced by 20 to 30 points further with no Palm.

All this happened to me on a Friday night, leaving all day Saturday and Sunday to research which handheld was right for me, in terms of what was available on the market. There had been a 512 SD card worth a little over 200 dollars in the Palm when it was stolen meaning I had quite a bit of cash to work with. Of course I was up to date generally, being a daily Gadgeteer, on what was out there but this was a purchase that warranted researching other sites as well.

So after getting all my facts straight, early morning Monday I placed an order for my next Palm. For how much I use my Palm, I was only considering ordering the best thing on the market. What did I choose?

The exact same thing, a Tungsten C.

Please keep in mind, I’ve been chasing the perfect Palm since the Palm III, and generally upgraded every year or so. I know a lot of Gadgeteers enjoy chasing the latest tech, and believe me, I am completely guilty of it too. For instance, when I meet people I sometimes say “Check out how small my cell phone is!” But as a business professional (unemployed writer), all the minor things in the Tungsten C have added up to a Palm that I have a hard time imagining I’ll ever have to upgrade. Here is a year long introspective of what works, and also what could be improved in the Tungsten C. You want proof? You can’t handle the proof. Stop whining, let’s get to the down lo.

First and foremost, the best feature of the Tungsten C is the BlackBerry keyboard. Let me explain my mindset when I bought it, I felt the keyboard was a HUGE problem, but had trust in Graffiti 2 (which sounds great, in the magical world of ‘Never Gonna Happen.’) I was moving from a Palm i705. I wanted the memory and color screen enough that I was willing to put up with the size. Let no one doubt my mad Graffiti skills. I know it so well, my normal handwriting has unintentionally moved to Graffiti’s faster strokes, meaning no one can read things I write. But believe me after a year, it’s not that the keyboard is better than Graffiti, it’s that it’s so much better, buying a Palm without one was completely out of the question. Once you get used to a keyboard it’s much, much faster than Graffiti.

Before owning the Tungsten C, sure I’d played around with Documents to Go. But with a keyboard? It’s like having constant access to every document in My Documents, a big plus for someone working on a novel like me. Or maybe I edit and improve an important email in the works. Maybe I want to type out a quick thought I had about someone’s shoes. In any case, let me be clear, Documents to Go works seamlessly requiring no conscious effort on your part.

Another HUGE advantage of a keyboard is I can hand the PalmPilot to a stranger and ask them to input things like their contact information. That’s important in the real world, try that trick with Graffiti. I know a keyboard is a tough sell to a Gadgeteer, but it works for me and works well.

It is true there are some impressive Windows CE and Sony Clie Machines (running Palm OS) the same way it’s true there are some impressive Macintosh systems. There are strong arguments to diverge from the standard, but welcome a whole nightmare of software incompatibility, shoddy updates and no one selling accessories you need. Pocket PC has arguably never attracted people that actually use their PDA’s as professionals, and non-techies. Sony? Sure they’ve got some overpriced stuff with a few more features techies convince themselves will impress strangers. But support if it breaks? In my experience, Sony just can’t compete, maybe it’s PalmOne’s economies of scale.

I had looked at other PDA’s with keyboards, such as the Sony CLIÉ PEG-UX50 and the HP iPaq H4350. Granted I have not actually sampled a Pocket PC in the last year, but every other purchase of a Windows device has been in retrospect a terrible, terrible mistake. Once again, I feel it’s an OS for techies and casual users. Pocket PC’s to me seem to sell by incorporating early adopter gimmicks. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that features like fingerprint recognition is a PDA feature created by a child for children. As far as the Clie, I pretty much took from Judie’s review it’s an unfinished “everything but the kitchen sink.” Judie liked the horizontal keyboard, but I’ve felt that the vertical BlackBerry keyboard allows such quick input, and besides LMil’s not about using a screen that small.

The second biggest advantage to the Tungsten C is the ton of memory available. On every other Palm I’ve ever owned, making the most of every kilobyte has been an issue. Putting in every program, database, and game I could possibly ever use, I’ve honestly never had to look at it if I had space. The SD slot is also in the perfect place, making swapping out and losing cards a piece of cake.

The screen on the Tungsten C can hold it’s own with any other thing I’ve seen on the market, including laptops, and battery life has never even been an issue. And although the Tungsten C is quite large compared to many PDA’s, particularly the Tungsten T3, if it were smaller it would make input much more difficult. It’s an acceptable tradeoff for having a Palm you can quickly input data into, and in any case passes Julie’s legendary creak test with flying colors.

In the input department, the included stock stylus is the best original I’ve ever used. It’s metal and has a perfect weight to it. Also in the “you can’t make this stuff up,” despite my best attempts, I have not lost the original stylus, except in case of having it physically stolen from me.

I know a lot of people are interested in the Tungsten C because it’s the obvious choice for Wi-fi. Surfing via Wi-fi is simple to both setup and use. Honestly though? In terms of actually being a useful tool for finding information I need to know, it’s helped me maybe twice. If I’m on the go, and know I’ll need access to Wi-fi I’ll bring my laptop, and in a pinch call InFone, or even a friend near a computer is much faster. For those of you that want a Palm with Wi-fi don’t get me wrong, the Tungsten C will do it, but as far as being a useful tool? No offense to the techies, but I don’t get it.

Let me tell you what doesn’t work on the Tungsten C, and I’ll hope the guys at Palm are listening. First up, the “headphone jack.” Instead of being the standard headphone jack, it’s the cellular phone size. Begin eye rolling now. And the bigger irony? A converter adaptor doesn’t work either. No, you’re stuck using the crappy little earbud-microphone from the Palm store. Sticking it in well enough that it doesn’t fall out makes my ear ache after more than an hour. If listening to MP3’s is a priority for you, this is not the Palm for you.

A special word about the Audible experience on the Tungsten. For those of you uninitiated, offers a library of downloadable audiobooks on everything you can think of for dirt cheap. Start listening to audiobooks instead of the radio, and you will be amazed at how it changes your life. Audible compatible MP3 players are very difficult to find nowadays, as the company has decided to focus on handhelds and the Ipod. So that is to say, Audible working on my Palm was a top priority for me. Anyone that has AudibleManager installed on their desktop knows that the lone programmer at Audible has the easiest job in America. After careful consideration, AudibleManager for the PC is the worst buggy mess I’ve ever used. No surprise that the software for the Tungsten C is the same awful quality. Even when I could stomach the earbud, Eventually I just gave up installing and reinstalling the software, and bought an Ipod.

If you contact Audible they will tell you their software works, barely restraining their diabolical laughter. Frankly, I think the fact that the software doesn’t work kind of undercuts their point that it does. I mean if it worked, that would really be something, huh? But it doesn’t.

Also on the downside is that once you’ve accessed a Wi-Fi site, that record always stays in the Palm, making them add up. I’ve tried every trick I am to erase this useless data that makes it difficult to find new networks, but to no success. Not even hot syncing the replaced Tungsten C helped this.

The third downside is that there really aren’t cases out there that work the way the metal case worked for my Palm Vx. No, just like with the i705, I use the included book cover. In over 2 years of using minimal protection it has caused no problem or scratches, and in any case it’s insured.

If you’re looking to do something really stupid like me, make sure to put years of credit card data, passwords, financial records in Memo Pad unencrypted. Even better, live near Memphis where the police will laugh at you if you ask to see their weekly list of pawn shop sales (more restraint of diabolical laughter.) I spent $59.85 on Chapura’s Cloak. The software costs $19.95, but their web store is poorly coded making a trip backwards to set the purchase from two to a single copy a third purchase. I have yet to get my money back.

My final afterthought is that reviewing a PalmPilot after using it for a year gives insight that an initial review cannot. I hope that this review might spawn more “Afterthought” reviews from grateful Gadgeteer’s so we can give Julie and Judie even more work to do for us. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, particularly on the insurance or my Kat humor. ;-p

Posted in: Articles
{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Julie May 15, 2004, 3:23 am

    Post your comments here on the Afterthoughts: A Yearlong Look back at the Tungsten|C

  • mas90guru May 15, 2004, 2:45 pm

    I echo your audible comments. I loved the service. Hated having to tap dance through the copy protection and bugs. Cancelled. I much rather purchase the content on CD so I have it handy in cas of a system crash (I know Audible let’s you re-download – but my whole experience was very negative and I jumped ship).

  • ianjd May 15, 2004, 5:12 pm

    I have to agree with the thrust of the review. Despite teething problems with the early TCs, the one I ended up with turned out to be a real workhorse, despite my efforts to replace it with the TT3 and Treo600.

    One thing worth noting is that there is an adaptor I use that converts the TC audio into a regular earphone socket, eg…

  • thsu May 16, 2004, 12:56 am

    I use an earlier version of this program, and it’s the best out there. Just punch in your pass phrase, and viola, a fully encrypted, searchable memo pad replacement. I consider this an indispensible app, and it’s one of the few reasons I still use my Palm. There’s even a desktop side too, although the desktop app is not nearly as useful as the Palm version.

  • lmilovy May 16, 2004, 3:54 pm

    I thought this was pretty funny, this is what was Julie posted to the site….

    And although the Tungsten C is quite large compared to many PDA’s, particularly the Tungsten T3, if it were smaller it would make input much more difficult. It’s an acceptable tradeoff for having a Palm you can quickly input data into, and in any case passes Julie’s legendary creak test with flying colors.

    This was my original text….

    and in any case passes Julie’s legendary creak test like a drunken cheerleader into a frat house

    I find all this highly amusing. 🙂 My best guess is that Julie had seen Revenge of the Nerds IV the night before on cable, and was keenly aware of the hijinks that can happen when actual drunken cheerleaders enter a frat house. Those hooligan Tri-lams. 🙂


  • Julie May 16, 2004, 4:01 pm

    Actually, I thought that passage was a little tasteless, so I edited it. If you actually meant that the unit fails the creak test, let me know and I’ll edit your article once again.

  • FFSteve May 16, 2004, 6:14 pm

    Good job Julie.
    I agree that the quote needed to be changed.
    I wouldn’t have been able to tell if the original comment was a compliment or a complaint.
    And good job to the author of the article for the rest of the info which I thought was very balanced.

  • lmilovy May 17, 2004, 12:48 am

    No, I was actually concerned that trying to work a little humor into the review would not be up to the high journalistic standards of the site. After all, we all come here because Julie and Judie have maintained a site for years with absolutely no BS reviews and 100% credibility.

    Those high journalistic standards are why I say the following, and please do not take this personally Julie, but I get a little uncomfortable when any editor changes my work, other than editing for format and clarity.

    In this case it could be argued it was for clarity, which is why I chose to see the whole thing as ironic. I mean that in the sense I honestly have no idea what offends people’s sensabilities nowadays. I don’t even blink at the self-loving bear skits on Conan. I bet if I blocked the words “hot asian” from my inbox, it would cut down dramatically on spam. I don’t have a male organ myself, but if I ever do it’s comforting to know there are a lot of people out there with options, just in case.

    Actually drunken cheerleaders and frat houses are pretty tame. And I say that only as a retrospective comment of being a twentysomething and remember when Madonna’s Vouge albumn was threatening the moral fiber of America.

    Anyway, keep up the great site J&J.


  • Julie May 17, 2004, 1:48 am


    I’m confused… If you were so concerned that adding the aforementioned comment might be the wrong way to go, then why did you do it?

    As for editing your work, that’s my prerogative whether it is for clarity or content. You actually had some facts wrong in a couple of places where you were talking about Judie when it should have been me, or visa versa. Anyway, if it bothers you that I edited the article, I can remove it if you wish. Just say the word.

  • Error94 May 17, 2004, 3:40 pm

    In response to using your insurance to replace a PDA or other relatively inexpensive (and by inexpensive, I mean in comparison to, say… a house), people might want to check the comments in this thread: It is generally considered to not be a good idea. The cons tend to outweigh the pros.

  • Error94 May 17, 2004, 3:43 pm

    Originally posted by lmilovy
    …I get a little uncomfortable when any editor changes my work, other than editing for format and clarity.

    Someone doesn’t get published much, do they? 😉

  • lmilovy May 17, 2004, 6:28 pm

    Julie, I took special effort in that last post to say it doesn’t bother me. Of course I was making a wider point.

    Secondly, considering insurance, I read the discussion over insurance. In general people over there were fundamentally confused about the nature of the insurance you should have for your Palm.

    Of course homeowners doesn’t normally cover losing your Palm Pilot. it was a SEPERATE ENDORSEMENT added to my covereage for like 35$ a year. For my elecrtronics, Playstation, etc I have 20,000$ in complete replacement cost. I lost about 640$ in equiment. They mailed me a check for 640$

    My insurance did not go up one bit.

    In addition, My computer is worth about 3000$. If I break it or drop it when I move or aliens abduct it, I don’t have 3k on hand to get a replace it. For that event, I might have to sit down with an adjuster. In that case it would be the SEPERATE ENDORSEMENT that went up. Since it’s 35$ now I wouldn’t think that would break the bank.

  • Te_Aito May 18, 2004, 5:08 am

    I have always enjoyed this site, but I just had to comment on the remark that implies someone switching to or running a Mac will have “a whole nightmare of software incompatibility, shoddy updates and no one selling accessories you need”. Of course you cannot run Win specific programs on a Mac (at least not without Virtual PC), and vice versa. There are no “shoddy updates”, nor do I have any trouble at all finding accessories I need or want. Perhaps the author might want to consider how things are written before complaining about editors…

    ~An irritated Mac user
    (two years, and not going back to a Win system)

  • Matt May 25, 2004, 6:21 pm

    I had one of the first TC and sold it after alot of complains on screens breaking without abuse. Have you heard of this problem with the later units and if so what do you think about it? I didn’t dare carry my TC with a case .
    I sold the TC and jumped to the TE. All tho its a great unit, I miss the extra 32mb and wifi for wireless syncing at home . Anybody ever wardrive with a TC? What kind of internet software is out there for the TC now? Does it support pop ups yet, that was always one thing that bugged me about the TC .I also wonder if it supports landscape mode?

  • Judie May 25, 2004, 6:50 pm

    Beating a dead horse – always fun…so here I go:

    Originally posted by lmilovy
    In addition, My computer is worth about 3000$. If I break it or drop it when I move or aliens abduct it, I don’t have 3k on hand to get a replace it. For that event, I might have to sit down with an adjuster. In that case it would be the SEPERATE ENDORSEMENT that went up. Since it’s 35$ now I wouldn’t think that would break the bank.

    I wish this was always the case. I had a $20K item that was carried under a separate endorsement rider on my homeowner’s insurance for a cost of approx. $250 a year. A portion of this item was lost, and a $6K claim was filed with the payment check going straight to the company that did the replacement.

    Yesterday I called to see if I could qualify for insurance with another company because my newest renewal quote was so high. I found out that this claim – for an item that was carried under a separate endorsement rider – not only is counted as a regular strike against my policy, but it is also part of why my homeowner’s insurance has risen for the last two years (since the claim was made).

    Insurance companies do not appreciate claims. Period. Homeowner’s policies are expensive enough without giving them a reason to add additional strikes against you.

    I think it would be a better idea to buy a policy for items you can’t afford to replace under a separate policy, not affiliated with your homeowner’s.

  • Vidge May 25, 2004, 10:57 pm

    I’m not going to beat this to death either but from the article (emphasis is mine):

    I had added a ridiculously cheap (far cheaper than a good case) endorsement in my renters insurance policy for my Palm

    Perhaps renter’s insurance has a different thing than homeowners’ insurance.

    Just a thought.:p

  • Judie May 25, 2004, 11:34 pm

    ahhhhh – renter’s insurance.

    Back from the good ol’ carefree days before I was a homeowner. 😀

    Makes me wish for those simpler times…:p

  • FFSteve May 26, 2004, 7:34 pm

    I’m disappointed to see the dialogue between the site owner and writer of the article taking place on this BB. I think it would have been more appropriate to do it privately. And I guess to be fair to the author, anytime changes to content are made, the article should be returned for input before posting. That would also be a good time to point out mistakes which might need correcting. Just my two cents however, I’m sure both parties had the best intentions.

  • kfind June 4, 2004, 8:59 pm

    Found the writeup about the Tungsten C a year later to be most helpful, since it seems to be indepth and accurate. I was wondering about your use of the SD media card and how well this works in the Tungsten C? I currently using a Treo 90 and have 50 Megs of files on the SD card that I constantly reference. The Tungsten C with a 400 Mhz processor is much faster, and the minute+ wait to bring up some doc readers presently could be a thing of the past with a Tungsten C.

    Any comments..



  • lmilovy June 5, 2004, 3:14 am

    I agree about it should have been privately. Honestly it was something that shot off the top of my head. It was my first time to use the forum. My bad. You know the girl in high school that babbled endlessly all day? That’s me.

    In my opinion Julie and Judie run the highest quality review site on the web. By far. Their contribution to personally getting the correct gadgets is incalculable. On top of that on several occasions, Julie has taken the time to personally recomend cases for me. And they do it for free. My many thanks, let me know if I can ever do you a favor!

    Listen, I’m no insurance salesman, so I have no idea if renters and homeowners insurance are similar. But surely endorsement policies are avaliable for each. Bottom line, Palms are so easy to lose, make sure it’s insured.


  • lmilovy June 5, 2004, 3:17 am

    Oh, kfind. I forgot.

    Probably the top endoresment of any kind of technology is “I’ve never had to think about it.”
    The most demanding stream from the SD slot was from Audible streaming audiobooks. It was flawless. Working with the SD slot streaming video, images, or data has never been slow enough to make any kind of impression on me.

    It works. Enough said.

  • onestar June 5, 2004, 3:25 pm

    Well, after reading this article, a few others concerning Wi-Fi-based handhelds, and other factors, I’ve sold my Dell Axim X5 and ordered a TC.

    We’ve an excellent wi-fi network at work, and I was using the PPC “in the field”, but I’ve grown exceedingly frustrutated with the “tempermental” PPC applications (specifically, Pocket Internet Explorer…it would fail to detect network settings more often that it would recognize them).

    Combine that with a preference for Palms (I’ve had one since my Palm Pilot Professional that I upgraded with the 2MB kit years ago), I’d decided it was time to upgrade to the TC.

    With any luck, I’ll get as good as mileage as you have. Thanks for the informative article!

  • kpr June 20, 2004, 10:49 pm

    Originally posted by Matt
    [B]I had one of the first TC…
    Anybody ever wardrive with a TC?
    What kind of internet software is out there for the TC now?
    Does it support pop ups yet, that was always one thing that bugged me about the TC.
    I also wonder if it supports landscape mode? [/B]

    To wardrive, the best software is still NetChaser, which helps you find Wi-Fi hotspots by sounding an alarm or vibrating every time you are within range of a Wi-Fi access point.

    The updated version of Web Pro, version 3.0.1, handles pop ups, and is a very good web browser. But the update from PalmOne is NOT free as it should be since there are many bugs in Web Pro version 2.x that ships with the TC.

    The Zire 72 ships with version 3.5 of Web Pro.

    Both version 3.0.1 and 3.5 of Web Pro support landscape mode on the T3, which I feel is the best web browsing experience I have ever had on a PDA.

    Another useful piece of internet software is Hand/RSS, a RSS news feed reader.

    VersaMail is good email program too.

    By the way, the TC is still my favorite PDA up to this point. Nothing beats its long battery life, fast speed, and it has been very reliable for me. I take it every where I go.

  • Matt June 21, 2004, 7:27 pm

    thanks for the info. I really miss my TC and thinking of ordering another one. I might just wait to see what Palm has up there sleeve with the next generation.

  • AZSideroad December 29, 2004, 6:30 am

    Hey, sorry to hear your T|C was jacked/stolen. I had one and enjoyed it despite some if the problems I had with it. I had a small area of light the bled from right above the plastic frame around the screen on the lower left of the display. I also wasn’t satisfied with the WiFi range, not much better then Bluetooth. Cool, but I think they (PalmOne) should’ve given the T|C the T|W’s antenna for increased range. I did love the battery life and the RAM. My Zodiac gets great battery life, and has more RAM, but the T|C was a champ when WiFi was off when it came to battery life. The “deal” killers on the T|C that prompted me to switch to another device was I use Voice Recorder and you need a headset to use it. Not just any 2.5mm headset will do, but you have to get one of PalmOne’s models or one that works with certain Nokia phones. Also, due to that same design feature/flaw multimedia playback on the T|C blows, period. The T|C is for those that multimedia (MP3, video, photos) isn’t a major concern. I use my PDAs for multimedia and I bought it thinking I could live with that in mind. I couldn’t.

    Also, using a PalmOne device made me realize another feature that is now a must have for me in any PDA. Vibration/silent alert feature. The Zodiac takes this to a new level with vibration feedback in games, but from a productivity standpoint it is essential when an audible alert is unacceptable. I kid you not, I once had my Visor Deluxe go off in a meeting and start playing Taps (my reminder alarm). Now, when I’m in a meeting I just temporarily mute my Zodiac. I love that feature.

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