In this review I'm going to be looking at the second of the two PDA's that the nice people at Merconnet sent me, the Pal-Mate Touch Panel PDA. This claims to be the worlds smallest PDA, so do good things really come in small packages? Let's find out...
- PDA with over 100 name, phone number and email address memory, clock, schedule, calculator, fortune teller, casino 7's game, car racing game and animated screen.
- Touch panel.
- Powered by 2 button batteries (supplied).
-Wireless PC and PDA-PDA data transfer.
Approx dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 69/44/9.
The box and its contents.
The Pal-Mate comes in a stylish
cardboard/plastic packet, inside it I found,
- The PDA and neck cord.
This PDA really is very small,
about half the size of a credit card and not
very thick. Generally it looks ok, the blue
plastic has a nice rugged feel to it, though
I can't say I'm impressed by the cheap rubber
button at the bottom. On the back of this unit
there's an optical sensor and emitter for data
transfer, a small reset button, a stylus holder
(the PDA arrived with a stylus in the holder)
and the battery compartment. I can rarely resist
my unscrewing urges, so I thought I'd take a
quick peak at the battery compartment,
The only interesting
thing revealed by my endeavours was that the
blue plastic is a paint effect on a white plastic
base. If this were ever to wear off it would
look very unsightly indeed.
- 2 spare stylus pens.
A small manual.
The first time
use you this PDA you have to press the reset
button on the back of the unit - I quite liked
being forced to do this, it made me read the
manual (to find out why it wouldn't turn on)!
A clever tactic, or a nice side effect of a
battery saving feature? I'll err on the side
of cunning and give the designers some credit
From this reset onwards repeated
pressing of the unresponsive plastic mode button
presents the user with the following screens,
From the top
left to bottom right these represent; a time
display, databank & clock modes, reminder
and calculator modes, fortune teller and 7's
game modes and lastly the car racing mode.
mode you'd like to enter is a simple matter
of pressing the relevant icon with the one of
the provided stylus pens, progressing through
the option to achieve your desired goal is normally
as straight forward as a few more stylus prods.
The following shows the entry of a new name
into the database as an example,
of this PDA was chosen to mimic the look of
a palm-top PDA, to maximise the screen size.
Although the size of the screen on the Pal-Mate
is very large when compared to the Magic-I
the makers chose to use a very large pixel display,
allowing for just twelve characters to be displays
onscreen at once. This makes reading through
a database of names very taxing, a fundamental
flaw in any PDA.
I've already mentioned that
I found the plastic buttons on the display unresponsive
and unfortunately the touch screen panel is
just as bad - I frequently found myself having
to jab the display several times to enter one
Most of the
other modes of the Pal-Mate echo those on the
with the car racing game and the animation being
the only real exceptions and I failed to see
the point in either. The car racing game not
only highlights the poor quality of the display
once again, with most of it disappearing when
you ask the car to move, but it also requires
user input from three of the rubber buttons
at once - an impossible task even for those
with the smallest of fingers I fear.
The animation feature displays
a scrolling banner and I'm guessing it's only
purpose is to impress friends, though I can't
imagine who'd be impressed by it.
to the Pal-Mate from a PC is done via the same
clever system as was used in the Magic-i,
and again the software failed to work for me
in Windows XP - not entirely surprising. With
the Pal-Mate the software also allows you to
customise the animation, I'm sure you can guess
my feelings about this.
between two Pal-Mate's is made possible by the
inclusion of an emitter diode, a useful feature
if all your friends decide to buy one of these
along with you.
I found myself
wholly unimpressed by the Pal-Mate. In my opinion
anything with a price tag of $33 should make
an active effort to justify it's cost. Although
saying the makers of the Pal-Mate haven't tried
would be very unfair, they certainly haven't
succeeded at any attempts made. The Pal-mate
is slow and unresponsive and a pain to use.
I found it's main selling point, having a touch
screen incorporated in such a small PDA, one
of it's most disappointing features - a great
I couldn't possibly recommend
that anyone looking for a small PDA buy this,
instead I would insist they save money and push
them in the direction of the Magic-i,
a better PDA in almost every way.