Palm Tungsten T|X review

Price when reviewed

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy a phone or PDA that doesn’t have a camera built into the back, so in many ways the T|X is a welcome change. For this is meant to be a business PDA, designed for serious people with serious jobs.

Palm Tungsten T|X review

For instance, thanks to VersaMail and the integrated 802.11b radio, you can theoretically download your email and calendar whenever you’re in a wireless hotspot via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. The ‘theoretically’ is a big one though: just for starters, your business will need Exchange Server 2003. Most people are more likely to pull email down from their non-corporate accounts, either via Wi-Fi or using Palm’s excellent Bluetooth Wizard to partner with a suitable Bluetooth phone; miraculously, this takes less than a minute to set up.

Documents To Go 7 is bundled too. This lets you view and edit Word and Excel files and takes full advantage of the 320 x 480 screen: flipping between portrait and landscape is as simple as tapping an icon. You can’t edit presentations, but Slideshow To Go lets you run through them before that vital meeting. Palm is also encouraging people to download the free Avvenu application. Load this onto your Palm and PC, and you’ll be able to access any file on it whenever you’re connected to the Internet.

The look and feel of the T|X is again designed to appeal to businesses. Any hint of garishness has been stamped out, with a subdued, metallic blue finish and a sensible black flip cover. We have our doubts about the cover though: it doesn’t fit very snugly, so putting the Tungsten into your pocket could see the screen get scratched by stray keys. A sturdier case may well be necessary.

This is a shame, as at 13mm thick the Tungsten slips very nicely into trouser pockets. Weighing 149g, it’s also quite light. Its portability claims are slightly weakened by its battery life, though. While the Tungsten E2 lasted for eight hours’ continuous use, the T|X gave up after five-and-a-half hours. And music playback followed a similar pattern: nine hours compared to the E2’s 17 hours.

Mind you, thanks to the inclusion of Pocket Tunes 3 rather than the Tungsten E2’s ageing RealPlayer, the T|X is a far slicker music-playing device: there are plenty of options, large onscreen controls and an easy-to-use playlist manager. The 100MB of available storage space is also much superior to the E2’s 26MB. A dedicated MP3 player is inevitably a better choice – the T|X lacks a Hold button, for example, and doesn’t include earphones in the box – but if you’re after an occasional audio device it won’t disappoint.

You can play videos too: the 312MHz processor made playback notably smoother than the 200MHz chip inside the E2, and Palm is positively encouraging people to view their own videos on the T|X. Just drag non-copy-protected videos onto the Palm Quick Install icon, and the file will be automatically converted to a format the T|X understands; it worked fine for all the WMV, QuickTime and MPEG1 clips we tried.

It all adds up to a far more flexible PDA than the Tungsten E2, but it doesn’t do quite enough to topple it from our A List. The E2 offers all the features most people need from a PDA, including Bluetooth, for a substantially smaller sum. More tellingly, the T|X’s price places it in a niche uncomfortably close to fully featured Pocket PCs such as the Dell Axim X50v. Given the minuscule price difference, we’d opt for the latter due simply to Windows Mobile’s far better integration with Windows and Outlook.

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