Who has pinched the zen of Palm?

Isn't it odd that people still talk about the zen of Palm as if it were something they had just brought out a year or two ago? Rather, I can remember it from years back when the o/s was way out in front and you could genuinely say that Palm knew what they were doing. Sure, the o/s has not been revamped for goodness knows how long but it is still simple and easy to use it's just that the hardware specs are very much firmly rooted back in early 2000's. What a bummer. Using the Treo Pro has the unfortunate side effect of reminding you where Palm should be in terms of palm o/s devices, if this were such a treo it would be wonderful.

So, if you are still using the palm o/s but wish to make the jump to a better specced device to take advantage of all those modern goodies such as 3g and wifi, what other platform should you be looking at? None, you should of course just be a bit more patient and wait for Nova but that would spoil the point of this post.

What about Blackberry? I remember saying when I had the Curve over a year ago that the style and interface of RIM reminded me of the palm o/s as it looked a bit lacking in eye candy but was simple and easy to use. The Bold looks to have taken it up a notch or two since then graphically but the underlying ease of use is still there no doubt. If only the bold wasn't so darn wide and so expensive unlocked then it would be a definite contender.

Windows Mobile? Yeah right. This is the anti-Palm o/s, the very anthesis of all that is nice and easy about it. Super powerful and customisable and super-hard to both get to grips with and ultimately like. This is probably the o/s that I want to like most as the 3rd party apps are superb and the wide choice of devices hugely appealing but it remains a hard beast to like with multitudes of menus tucked away hindering its ease of set up and use for the more casual smartphone person. It's still a missed opportunity and the downside of having that super-power is the very obvious clunkiness of having a desktop o/s stuffed into a device a tenth of its size. My Treo Pro is already doing my head in and is on the verge of being consigned to ebay already.

Win Mob is for people who need all that power stuff and don't mind the ease of use trade off, they have made a pact with the Devil when using it…..give me eternal life and power and I accept the fact it is a turd to use. It shocks me that folk rave about the Treo Pro, lots of things about it make me think…this is NOT a palm device, it may have one or two nice touches from Palm but the rest feels distinctly un-Palm like.

Symbian? Hmmmmm…not sure about this one either, too menu driven for my liking. I think the symbian boffins could really improve this one but seem to care not a jot about making it easier to use or improving the interface, without a touchscreen to make moving around easier it remains zen-less. Loads of power things going on there but in a fairly random, vaguely incomprehensible sort of manner to the newbie. All my previous Nokia phones have been flogged off fairly quickly as I found them too hard to use…too many key presses throughout the menus. Symbian surprises and disappoints me as I expect more from it but ultimately feel a bit short changed…I always end up thinking…this should be like Palm but isn't but it would not take much for it to be so….devices that are so menu driven desperately need touchscreens.

Google Androdd? No idea as I haven't used one yet but I think with these guys background it should be up there. Google appear to have an ease of use mantra thing going on and you would hope this will be reflected via Andriod. It just needs desktop syncing and some good 3rd party support to be a viable contender. It appeals to me, probably mainly because it's not win mob. The videos I have seen on youtube of it in action make it look like a very promising o/s. I'd love to have a proper play with the device itself.

Last but not least, the iPhone. I hate to be predictable here but I think there is a lot of the palm ethos built in. The vast majority of the applications are basic-ish but do the job and are easy to get to grips with quickly. The menu system is simple too and you find things where you expect them to be. It's easy to get from point A to point B as it is with the palm o/s. I think this is the reason why a lot of palm deserters have embraced this device. It certainly seems the most palm-like to this user. No, it does not have the "power" of windows mobile but for less power-user orientated people that is a bonus, not a hindrance. I'd love to have a weeks try of the Blackberry Bold as I suspect it is a similar beast. 

After nearly a week of solid Treo Pro use I finally fired back up the iPhone and Centro and the difference was instant and hugely pleasurable, no more spinning beach balls, no more 6 deep menus, no more silly whopping big top and bottom menu bars (it is a reflection on win mob that these are sadly still needed) and instead a couple of zippy devices with that warm glow of familiarity of old apps and knowing that nothing can go wrong that cannot be fixed, even by a relatively un-tech savy user like me.


2 Responses to “Who has pinched the zen of Palm?”

  1. Tonyk Says:

    An interesting read, largely reflect what I think about the platforms at the moment although I’m a bit more sceptical about Blackberry. So what have you gone back to, the iPhone or the Centro?

  2. Austin Mitchell Says:

    I’ve got an iPhone 3G and to be honest, it’s not a very good PDA. One of the reasons Palm was (is?) still so good is the open aspect of the platform. You can customise just about anything, especially in OS4.
    Because of this, I’ve regressed back to a Palm M500 to use as a PDA, a 1st gen iPod Shuffle as an MP3 player and a Nokia 2100 as a phone.
    I’ll be getting a Blackberry Bold from work soon and I’ll just use that for Internet browsing; really only need it when away from home. I found I was browsing on the iPhone just for the sake of it!

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