Any of you who worship at the church of the Palm Pilot – and there are many of you – be prepared for a crisis of faith. The trusty Palm platform has been through many changes over the years, going from an organiser to a fully fledged communications centre. But the most profound transformation yet has occurred and there will be a split in the church.
Most users of the Palm device can trace their faith and devotion back to the early Nineties when this slate grey wallet-sized tablet with a greenish screen made its debut.
Its prime usage was as an organiser allowing you to synch your contacts, calendar and notes with your PC via a cradle that sat at your desk.
For years the device family went through subtle rather than profound changes. The operating system stayed largely the same and I’d imagine the phone’s user base were happy with this situation.
In the late Nineties Palm moved in the direction of being a mobile phone as opposed to just being just an organiser and still the device’s loyal family were content that appearance wise and OS-wise, everything was in its usual place.
The Palm Treo 650, which I was using before the latest 750v incarnation (pictured), was evidence of this. In most respects it was just like using the first Palm I ever had in the Nineties, except I could do nifty things like link with Bluetooth hands-free kits in my car.
Just like the onset of most wars, cultures change irrevocably. In this case, on the eve of the push email wars, loyal Palm users are going to experience a significant culture shock as Palm takes sides with Microsoft in its onslaught on the mobile messaging Utopia hitherto enjoyed by Research-in-Motion’s Blackberry.
In this case the culture shock could be akin to leaving the straight-laced march-in-step society of the Fifties and land in the middle of a psychedelic Grateful Dead concert in the Sixties.
My first impression of the Palm 750v was its uncanny resemblance to the Blackberry 8700g, with blue and silver casing. However, setting it up and getting everything synched was a typical Palm affair.
The Windows 5 Mobile OS with Palm enhancements will leave loyal Palm users adrift and thinking nostalgically of the way things were. It’s a typical Microsoft Windows experience until you start to use the phone and there appears to be little of the traditional Palm functionality left. The old Palm, does reappear at different points, such as when uploading contacts from your SIM card.
From a hardware perspective, outwardly the device works almost exactly like the traditional Palm units, except (Palm loyalists might think) for the travesty of a Windows icon on one of the buttons.
The Windows 5 Mobile environment is actually quite sturdy and the search for contacts window on the front screen is quite fresh and innovative. The device lends itself ideally for messaging applications and it is very easy to get a name, email address or number from your contacts database.
All in all the Palm 750v actually promises to be one of the more iconic phone offerings of 2007 and one I can see Vodafone, Palm and Microsoft pushing with great vim and vigour.
I think Palm traditionalists will get over their initial culture shocks in no time. The device is a 3G-enabled phone – ideal for net surfing – and features Bluetooth, a Windows Media Player and can read Word, Excel, PDF and PowerPoint files. I must admit the 1.3 megapixel camera is a little underwhelming. Superb sound quality during calls more than makes up for this.
The device sells for €399 including Vat and at present is only available at the Vodafone Grafton Street store.
By John Kennedy
Value for Money: ***