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Palm m505 Review

by Tim Drenk
Posted 5/3/01

I was able to get a Palm m505 Handheld yesterday and try it out. The only difference between the m505 and the m500 is the screen. The m505 has a color screen and the m500 has a black and white screen. I'll focus on the screen since I covered most other things here. Here are my thoughts after one day.

The Screen

The body of the m505 is metal and approximately 1mm thicker than the Palm Vx and the m500, so having a color screen in such a small form factor is impressive. The screen without the backlighting on is dark, darker than the Palm Vx. The background isn't white, it's greyish. It's still readable, but it looks the best with direct light on it. With my desklight over it or in direct sunlight, the screen is very usable. This is certainly an advantage over the Palm IIIc or the Visor Prism which are difficult to read in sunlight. With the backlighting (which is really sidelighting) on, the screen is brighter and closer to what most people are probably expecting. Still, it is not as bright as the Prism or the IIIc. In more ambient light or as the lights dim, the screen with backlighting stands out more. The color does add to the readability of the device, even though the screen is dim. In bright light with the backlight off, I would choose to read the m505 over the Vx or the m500. With the backlight on in dimmer light, the m505 is definitely more readable than the other two.

With Glowhack or EasyView (both available at PalmGear and both free), the backlight can always be on, making the screen brighter, but the battery will not last as long. I think that most people with like the screen more when the backlighting is on. The backlighting does automatically turn off after a period of inactivity which is nice to save the battery. It turns off, however, even when it's in the cradle and there doesn't seem to be any settings for it. Perhaps a developer will create a program to control that feature. I'm not sure if it's possible for a program to change the brightness of the screen, like the contrast on black and white Palms, but I'm sure someone will try.

When the backlighting is on, the graffiti area is lite. The silkscreen buttons and the line around the graffiti area glow making it much easier to write and use the buttons in the dark.

Final Thoughts

Palm made a trade off. Because of the small size, they dimmed the screen to make the battery last longer. I think that had they made the screen brighter, people would have complained about the short battery life. With the current technology, you have a choice for color devices: 1. Have a bright screen, but a bigger device or 2. Have a smaller device, but a dimmer screen. You will have to decide which is more important to you, size or brightness. If size is the most important, than the m505 is a great improvement over the Vx. If brightness is the most important, then the m505 will be disappointing and the Visor Prism is a better choice.

Between the m500 and the m505, I still would choose the m505 even with the dim screen since it's only $50 more. Even though it's dim, it's still color in a small size.

Price: $450

Pros:
-Color!
-Thin
-SD Card Slot
-Faster processor
-USB HotSyncing is fast

Cons:
-The screen is dim, not as bright as other color devices
-Only 1 stylus silo on the right side
-No move function to/from the card
-No way to move databases to/from the card in the OS
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