Palm Tungsten C - Page 3

By James Alan Miller

May 09, 2003

Keyboard & Navigation

The Tungsten C has the same excellent BlackBerry-like thumb-keyboard as the Tungsten W. Keyboards are a matter of taste, but if you have any predilection for a handheld with a keyboard then the Tungsten C is for you. The keys are nicely raised and supply enough feedback to make typing a breeze. To change a letter to a capital all one needs to do is hold that letter down. A blue function key allows you to type numbers and various symbols. To adjust the brightness of the display, simply press the function key and the key just above it to make a slider appear on the screen. Our one complaint about the keyboard is that it isn't backlit.

Since there is no Graffiti writing area, keys exist to bring up a menu and go to applications. Bellow the keyboard is the Palm's 5-way directional pad with buttons to launch the date and address books on one side and the VersaMail 2.5 email application and Web Browser, based on NetFront 3.0, on the other.

The browser works well and supports JavaScript, downloading pages as they would appear on a desktop. This can be annoying sometimes, as it requires a lot of scrolling to read text. Unlike the Pocket PC version of NetFront, the Palm version doesn't have the option to make the text fit the screen. You can download and use the Avantgo browser if you prefer to view text without scrolling. A link to it is available on the bundled Software Essentials CD. Another problem with the browser is that the browser won't follow links that would open up another window in a desktop browser.


The Tungsten C's integrated WiFi puts it on par with HP's iPAQ 5400 and Toshiba's e750. The Tungsten C includes an applet called WiFi Setup, which makes getting connected easy. Just click on the application and select next to have the device search out for a WiFi network, which it then displays. Select the one you want and you're set. During testing, I had no problem connecting the Tungsten C to two WiFi networks: one that required an SSID network name and another that didn't. A bar changes color from green to red as well as length to indicate how strong the signal is. We were able to consistently get a signal in the range of 30 to 40 feet, depending on how many doors and how much concrete was in the way. To make corporate users happy, the Tungsten C comes with a Microsoft Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol compatible (PPTP) VPN client.

In terms of wireless, the Tungsten C should have included Bluetooth, a feature that would make accessing email from a Bluetooth phone and other Bluetooth peripherals much easier. Another problem with Bluetooth support is that there aren't drivers yet for the Tungsten C for Palm's SD Bluetooth card.


As for battery life, Palm has included a powerful 1500 mAh Lithium Ion/Polymer battery. The goal for Palm was to allow the Tungsten C to go a whole day with WiFi use without needing to be recharged, as WiFi is a notorious power hog. I have to say that Palm succeeded as I've used the Tungsten consistently over the course of several days with a WiFi connection and it hasn't drained the battery all the way once. When I've used the Tungsten C as a regular handheld for over the course of a few days without WiFi, it didn't come close to needing to be charged. Like with the Zire 71's battery, the Tungsten C's battery is not user-replaceable.


As for applications, the Tungsten C and the Zire 71, are the first Palm handhelds to ship with Palm OS 5.2.1, which adds Graffiti 2, based on CIC's Jot, instead of traditional Graffiti. As to how you'll feel about this depends on where you're coming from. New users, who've never experienced Graffiti, will be better off with Graffiti 2, as it requires strokes that are much closer to real letters for handwriting recognition. Those who are used to Graffiti will have to get used to something new. Graffiti 2 also lets you write on the screen, which is essential for the Tungsten C, as it doesn't have a Graffiti writing area.

Other applications include DataViz's Documents To Go for synchronizing Microsoft Office applications with the Tungsten C, Bachmann's PrintBoy, World Clock, Solitaire and more.


Even with the lack of Bluetooth and stereo support limiting its appeal as a multimedia device, the Tungsten C is still head and shoulders above any Palm OS handheld that has come before in terms of overall power. Throw in some WiFi, an excellent keyboard and a sharp display and you've got handheld that we highly recommend. The Tungsten C is on cutting edge and should stay there for while.

For more details on the specifications of the Tungsten C and its software bundle, visiit our Tungsten C Hardware Information Page.

Reprinted from PDAStreet.

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