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the palm ultra-thin keyboard and a few weeks with a PDA

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the palm ultra-thin keyboard and a few weeks with a PDA

october 6, 2021

portable PDA keyboard

Hello from my Palm m500! Unlike last time I'm writing on an actual real Palm Ultra-Thin Keyboard rather than slowly and painfully writing out paragraphs in Graffiti.

The ultra-thin keyboard arrived a few days ago (after being delayed for a week and a half by the USPS for no reason at all), and so far I'm really liking it. In order to make it so compact it hides numbers and most symbols behind two keyboard function layers which makes it annoying to type those, but for regular paragraphs like this it feels as nice as a real keyboard and computer. The body is nice sturdy metal so I can put it on my lap and it doesn't feel like it's going to break when I fold it up. Overall I like it more than my Palm Portable Keyboard I think. The PPK is full-size but it's not rigid so you need a table and it's significantly bigger, and I think the portability and sturdy build of the ultra-thin outweighs the wonky typing.

To think that some people market a "distration-free writer" for >$150 when you could just get a Palm and keyboard for ~$50 total and get the same experience, plus it's far more portable and does other things too (offline of course).

I got the keyboard new and unopened!

The keyboard folded up with PDA size comparison

Writing on the Palm with the keyboard

Demo of the keyboard unfolding

See Also:

Last time I was writing on a PDA

Kelbot's comparison of the Palm Portable Keyboard and the Palm Ultra-Thin Keyboard

a few weeks with a PDA

I've had my Palm m500 since September 22, so I've had exactly two weeks of playing with it as of this writing; and I really like it for what it's meant to do. I charged it once, when I first got it, and I still have ~20% battery left right now. I just got lucky and have a good battery in mine, the most common issue seems to be a dead battery so don't expect battery life like that unless you replace it.

Me and Kelbot have managed to get some stuff to sync with the desktop so I'm getting digests of my Gemini subscriptions that I can sync over, and we can sync contacts. In general, we've decided that getting stuff to sync is more trouble than it's worth though (other than backing up the raw PDBs). Most things on the Palm do good standalone, for instance my to-do list on my Palm is mostly IRL things, while the to-do list on my computer is for computery things, and they don't really have any need to be synced together.

Software I've written or forked for the Palm

Comparing with later PDAs, I got a Palm TX well over three years ago and I've never been a fan of it. My biggest problem with it is that it's too new, and they were trying to shove in all sorts of web stuff into it rather than keeping it an offline device like the earlier Palms. Using a serial or a USB 1 device is fine, but I'm not comfortable spinning up a WEP or WPA1 network to get all the Palm TX features working, and all the stuff is far too old for the modern internet anyways. Not even Gemini is possible because it probably doesn't even support TLSv1 let alone v3. The Palm TX also has an LCD from the era of the worst quality LCD displays, it hogs the battery and looks like shit in almost all lighting conditions.

I really love the Palm m500 though, and it's a pretty ideal device and the ecosystem used to be lively enough to where I don't need to hack together most things myself, whatever I need was generally already written. I might pick up a Palm m515 so I can get a PDA with a color screen that still preserves the qualities I like in the m500.

If you're interested in getting a PDA, I would get one now because I think we're right on the border of them being old enough to be cool again and they'll get really expensive—right now we're still in the "they're junk so I'm giving them away for cheap" stage.

See Also:

Kelbot's m500 and m515 comparison

my favorite palm os software

CardTXT is what I'm writing this on right now, it's the best writing app for Palm I've found and supports plaintext so you don't have to constantly convert PDBs.

HandyShopper is a useful shopping list that stores all the items you've bought in the past so you can easily select them again in the future

Mañana is a second to-do list that lets you move to and from the main to-do list; it's intended for tasks you want to do in the far future where you don't want them cluttering the short-term to-do list.

LCD Invert makes the Palm a lot more readable in dark conditions with the backlight on.

Tiny Book Reader (TiBR) is the best e-reader for the Palm, although you usually have to convert books with Calibre first

TiBR Pro has some additional features but requires a keygen (included) or MultiUserHack.

Hackmaster facilitates cool OS hacks

MultiUserHack lets you customize your HotSync ID for a specific app so you can register wih existing serials

EasyLaunch is the best hack, it lets you competelycustomize the hard and soft buttons, including opening a different application depending on if you long or short press the button.

MiddleCaps makes Graffiti a lot easier by letting you write capital letters if you write in a certain part of the Graffiti area. It's so useful that Palm decided to integrate similar functionality officially into later Palms.

Mulg is a good maze game.

TARG is a fun Space Invaders and maze sorta game

The Prison is the best breakout game for the Palm according to some people

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