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Does Palm still support the Mac? Is there a way to synchronize a Palm TX or LifeDrive with the iBook?
According to PalmInfoCenter, Palm, which was called "PalmSource" at the time, dropped plans for future Mac synchronization on February 5, 2004. Needless to say, this move was viewed negatively by Mac users, many of whom had been as loyal to Palm as they were to Apple.
A few days later, PalmSource Chief Competitive Officer, Michael Mace issued a statement on the same website attempting to clarify the company position:
PalmSource is fortunate to have a great Palm OS developer community who provide solutions for Macintosh compatibility today. Palm OS provides an open and flexible architecture and allows its licensees to decide whether to ship a Mac compatibility solution with their Palm Powered device. (One such solution is provided by Mark/Space.) We are continuing our efforts with Apple to provide compatibility between Palm OS and Macintosh.
All the Mac users I know now rely on no-Palm solutions and use conduits that allow them to sync their Palms with their Apple applications. The system works beautifully and, in fact much better than if there was a special Palm software to receive the synced data.
The author also cleverly points out that:
Indeed, I'd much rather use a good third party application than a clunky manufacturer-provided one -- how many Mac users soon forgot about the software that came with their cameras after iPhoto was released?
However, I am very sad. But I am sad for Palm. The Mac customer base is very loyal and can establish very strong links with a brand. The latest Palm moves have angered many Mac fans and the company has lost dozens of millions of potential customers around the globe.
Since that time, Palm has continued to maintain the Palm Desktop application for the Mac OS, but it has not been substantially enhanced in nearly a decade.
The Palm US website notes that the Palm TX is compatible with MacOS X 10.2.8 to 10.4. Regarding compatibility with the Palm Desktop, the company indicates that the Palm TX is compatible and available for download if you select "Software: Palm Software: Palm Desktop for Macintosh".
The LifeDrive is listed as compatible with MacOS X 10.2.6 to 10.3 on Palm's website, but the specs page does not mention compatibility with MacOS X 10.4. On a another page, however, the company notes that Palm Desktop 4.2.1D adds support for MacOS X 10.4 and the LifeDrive.
Palm also has a webpage entitled "Palm & Macintosh" with additional information on Apple applications that can synchronize without Palm's software. It even says that the Palm TX is a "natural extension of your Mac". However, simply from using the company's website, it is clear that Mac support is not a high priority.
A great article on MacDevCenter provides additional information on the Palm TX as well as the often amusing efforts of the author to figure out the less than intuitive synchronization. It's well worth reading before purchase. Another MacDevCenter article "chronicles" the use of the LifeDrive, but it does not cover Mac synchronization.
Palm's solution may be vintage and haphazardly supported and some of the MacOS X-provided conduits are not as convenient as they should be, but the independent MarkSpace provides the excellent "The Missing Sync" application for US$39.95 with a company history of providing regular updates and quality support.
The Missing Sync runs on MacOS X 10.4 "Tiger" and supports both the Palm TX and LifeDrive. The list of features is massive, but includes everything from synchronizing Address Book and iCal to iTunes and iPhoto and much more.
I have connected to various wireless access points (secure and unsecure).
I have surfed the Web (although it can be a bit painful on that small of a screen).
I have used VersaMail (a mail client pre-installed on the TX) to read and send e-mail. (VersaMail uses my wi-fi internet connection.) VersaMail supports IMAP, POP, SMTP authentication, SSL, and alternate port numbers.
I haven't done much with Word docs. However, before posting this, I:
Created a Word doc on my Mac
E-mailed it to myself
Received the E-mail using VersaMail on my Palm
Opened the Word doc in DataViz WordToGo on my Palm
Made a change and saved it
Used VersaMail to e-mail the modified doc back to myself
I also love watching videos and listening to MP3s on my TX. It's a nice way to pass the time while riding the bus to and from work.
Editor's Note: Thank you for the great hands-on report.