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palmOne Tungsten T5 Review

Date: 2005-2-7

   PDAs have been around for a long time and though I have used a lot of different ones I have avoided getting too attached to any of them. My life consists, at any given time, of dozens of little...

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The battery life of the T5 was not the best I have seen, but certainly was nothing to scoff at. The PDA lasted for about four hours and twenty minutes of use with BlueTooth off and the backlight on maximum. This is a pretty standard setup and it should last the average user about a week, depending on how much tinkering you do and how dependent you are on the device. With the backlight on minimum and BlueTooth we were able to squeeze about five hours of continuous use out of the T5.

As those with mobile experience know, BlueTooth has a large effect on battery life. When testing the T5 with BlueTooth on continuously the battery drained a good deal quicker but it still stuck in there for about four hours (backlight on maximum). We were not using it to connect to another device the entire time, but it was searching for one.

While the T5 is off the battery hardly drains at all. This most likely has to do with how the RAM is maintained but the end result is a very much extended battery life over older models.

palmOne Tungsten T5 Review


During the time that I used the Tungsten T5 I really grew to enjoy having it around- its infinitely superior to scrawling notes on scraps of paper and shoving them messily into my pocket. But this is true of any PDA, so what makes the T5 special? First of all the T5 is one of the most powerful PDAs available. Not only does this mean its processor has no problem handling large files quickly but also that the PDA can do more than many others out there. Aside from doing everything you would expect, the T5 can do tasks like play MP3 music, show your photos, and play video files.

The easy of use of the Palm OS is staggering. Most people, even first time users, will have no troubling becoming adjusted to the system or integrating it into their life, which is what PDAs are all about. Also, the T5 features superb design - it looks really great, does not heat up, is comfortable in your hand, and has a high quality display.

As much as I liked the T5 is does have some considerable downsides. Aside from the lack of out-of-the-box Wi-Fi, Palm overlooked a few other things with the model. These are generally small things, like choppy video playback (which can be fixed with some aftermarket software) and the lack of support for AAC and WMA music files, but these small things add up. Some other problems were the limited number of BlueTooth phones supported, the lack of a vibrating alarm, and more important than anything else, the lack of improvement over the T3. Of course, the T5 is a much more powerful machine than the T3, which used a 400MHz processor and had only 64MB of storage, but the T5 is not nearly the technological jump that the T3 was when it was released. Some people assert that the T5 is not even an upgrade over the T3, given a number of missing functions and the lack of Wi-Fi, which most people now expect from a unit in this price level.

Personally I am glad Palm did away with the sliding mechanism, like that seen on the T3. I found this feature to be annoying and unnecessary- it was just another part that could break and it seemed to always fall down when I did not want it to. The T5, with the faux-leather cover installed, fits in my pocket well and is adequately protected in a backpack or briefcase- the slide was a nice gimmick but hardly necessary.

I think a lot of long-time Palm users are taking issue with the T5's new "Multi Connector". This how the Palm plugs into your USB port. This new design, which is highly touted by Palm means that all your old accessories, like your keyboard and cradle are now outdated. The T5 does not come with a cradle, I don't really see why it needs one, but a lot of purist are in love with them. If you need to have one you have to shell out some more money.

Another feature that I like about my T5 was the fact that I could use a photo background. The Palm OS has always been functional but not as customizeable as many PC users would expect. A few changes in this direction could make palmOne's PDAs that much more user-friendly. Along these lines, I would not mind seeing dual expansion ports on a "flagship" model. Considering that you need to have a Wi-Fi card in the PDA to connect to your WAN it makes sense to have another expansion port for a second card.

When it comes down too it, I think the Tungsten T5 is a solid PDA. I would not recommend that you throw away your T3 and buy one, but if you are using something like the Tunsten E are are looking for an upgrade you should look into the T5. The T5 is simply not that big a step forward over the T3, except in the aspect of design: the T5 looks sleek and minimalist and was designed to be used. If you are looking for "bang for your buck" the T5 is probably not the PDA for you, but if you need one for personal or business use its a good option, especially if youy company will buy you one and then buy you a SDIO Wi-Fi card. My question for the palmOne engineers is why buy a T5 when you can buy a T3 with a 512MB SD expansion card or an Axim X50?

I think a lot of reviewers and PDA purists have been too hard on this PDA. Its is a very solid performer, in fact one of the best on the market. The T3 is not a better PDA than the T5, it was just a huge step forward when it was released. The T5 does not match this progress, but when viewed on its own it is more than enough to make most consumers happy.

Golden Ticket
- Well designed exterior
- Great display
- BlueTooth
- Easy to use and integrate into your life

Speeding Ticket
- Wi-Fi? Please?
- Not as cost effective as other PDAs
- Not a huge improvement over the T3
- No removeable battery

Bonus Picture!

palmOne Tungsten T5 Review

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