My Tungsten 3 review

I am no professional reviewer but some people have requested I tell them about my new gizmo: the Tungsten 3. So here we go. I’ll try to write up everything interesting about it.

Why did you decide to buy this specific PDA?
I wanted PalmOS (!=windows) and the Cliés have too many features for my taste (camera, thumb-pad …) I wouldn’t be using. And: in the price range I was considering there actually is no Clié available. I bought the t3 at for 344,- € which was the best I could find. I had to wait nearly 6 weeks though. Another argument pro T3: it just looks great: sleek, compact, classy, … it’s not the thinnest thing around but we all have our little flaws that make us adorable, right? (Wouldn’t say it’s a flaw anyway) What else convinced me: the stretch display and bluetooth.

The downside: Quick what is it missing that nearly convinced you not to buy it?
WiFi, definitely. We have an access point at home I’d like to use. Plus: no drivers for SD WiFi cards so far. Needs SD cards = expensive. MP3 feature needs an expansion card. The long time to wait for it.

Read on for the rest of the review ….

First Impression
Setup went without trouble. Setup of software and hot-syncing as well. Just looks and feels great. Everything works. I still need to get used to graffiti.

The display
The “stretch display” is absolutely great. It works very well. I love that you can turn of the writing area completely or have a little keyboard to tap with the stylus instead. Older applications don’t allow to hide the writing area so if you don’t need it just make the display small again. One thing about it: I seem to be stretching and closing the display a lot and the mechanism isn’t as smooth as it maybe could be. I need both hands to work it. That’s a definite downside: but most pdas don’t have that feature. The landscape switch is nice but I don’t need it quite as much – without it though viewing office documents is a pain in the ….

The navigation bar at the bottom of the screen is very useful with just on tap you can activate the ‘write anywhere’ mode that let’s you write anywhere on the screen … just sometimes it happens that instead of tapping a button you write another period – well that happens a lot but not enough to be annoying. In the navigation bar there’s alsa a button for bluetooth (I’ll write about that below …. good things come last!) The 5-way navigator: well for me they could have saved all those buttons … I am only using whichever I feel to turn on the t3. So far I have been using the stylus to navigate everything.

Now the hardware is nice: 400MHz Intel processor, Palm OS 5.2.1 and 64MB of memory. What I didn’t know and find a bit stupid: I need an expansion card to be able to use the T3 as mp3 player and since it only likes the rather expensive SD cards that will have to wait some time. I tested the t3 with Till’s Argon V and it is running very smooth.

Battery Life
The t3 needs about 2 hours to recharge or a little less. A day at the office making heavy use of it takes about half of the battery. I have no comparison so I cannot say wether that’s good or bad.

Office & Multimedia Capability
The “documents to go” thing for office documents works very nice – at least with word documents. I used it to put two of my character sheets on the palm just in case …. along with a die roller program I am now always ready for a bit of gaming 🙂 Outlook sync isn’t a thing I need at all, I wish it was possible to sync with other programs like Thunderbird … My only real problem so far has been getting to set up the included mail program VersaMail. I wanted to set up a gmx account with it and ended up having to reset the t3 multiple times. So therefore: no mail reading – yet. The T3 has good multimedia capability but so far I have only used it to beam some images from my cellular and record a voice memo … I am unsure wether I am really interested on viewing trailers on that tiny screen? As for mp3s I’ll have to wait until the 512 MB SD cards become affordable because below that I’ll not buy one. The images are very useful because it makes it much easier to get the phone photos on the desktop to publish them with my blog for example. [Addendum 16 JAN: It doesn’t seem like the voice recorder is strong enough to record meetings but I’ll test that more extensively]

As I have never before owned a PDA I cannot say much about the improvement of applications though it all seems to work very nicely. I have tons of task lists and I am using the calendar a lot and the notepad. I think this is a rather new application: just scribble nots on the screen quickly. Very useful. Much quicker than graffiti.

Now for the good part. Bluetooth.
One of the reasons I bought the t3 is the bluetooth capability. Just turn it on with a tap on the navigation bar. After a couple tries I managed to enter my phone as a trusted device and then I simply beamed my complete addressbook to the palm which imported into the contacts app nicely. Great. I sent over some photos as well. Works. Cool. Then I tried to set up the ‘phone link’ and voilà about 3 minutes later I was able to surf to my homepage. Of course GPRS is a bit expensive so I shouldn’t be doing this too much. I have yet to find someone to test the other bluetooth apps with: blueboard and bluechat. Both look nice though.

I love it. I am starting to become a bit more organized and it’s great to just be able to take a quick note of all ideas that come to my mind … plus: never without internet again: GPRS has become much more useful. I like the shopping application Daniel gave me. So I guess the device is doing what it’s supposed to do: help me organize myself and it’s fun as well. Despite being not quite cheap it’s worth every single cent I paid and even more …. 🙂

The downside
no mp3s yet, GPRS is expensive to use, the stretch mechanism could be smoother, I wasn’t able to set up mail and I have not yet tried to set up the thing on my linux computers.

[Addendum: One thing, I cannot make the contacts app show a specific field next to the name in the listing, for example for my ‘business’ contacts I want it to show the ‘work phone’ and for my private contacts I want it to show the home phone. That’s stupid or is it me?]

Any questions?
Is this review useful at all?

By Yashima

Writer of code and stories


  1. Maybe you can try to setup an Internet connection via Bluetooth? I don’t know if it is possible, but it should be.

  2. Well first I would need to get my desktop computer equipped with bluetooth 🙂 … I have seen a howto for that on Till’s page (for a link see article). The desktop-computer-bluetooth question has not been solved yet since there are multiple options and I am not buying one and then another: usb-bluetooth-stick as opposed to Logitech Bluetooth Hub (included in the diNovo set!) ….

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