10 Dec 2006 pcolijn   » (Journeyer)

[Originally posted Nov. 29, 2006]

DS Lite

A while ago my gainful employer sent me some gift certificates to Best Buy. They sent them to the wrong address, but due to mrwise's resourcefulness I got them anyway.

In any case, I used them to buy a DS Lite. I must say, I'm very impressed with it. It's beautifully simple, suspends and resumes seamlessly so you can play for a few minutes on the subway and then slip it in your pocket, and the variety of games is great. The wireless gaming works flawlessly too, and the fact that you can play games you don't own is really cool. I really like Nintendo's strategy of sticking to what they do best: gaming. I feel like with all the other systems out there, they just try to be too many things, and end up getting them all wrong.


I've gone from loving mine to hating it. When I liked it, I didn't have data at all, since Fido charges ridiculously for data. But one of my main reasons for getting a Tréo as opposed to something cheap and crappy was that I'd be able to read email on it, do Google Maps, etc. So after moving down to NYC, where T-mobile has a reasonable-ish unlimited data plan, I went for it, and promptly discovered that doing anything data-related on the Tréo sucks.

The non-data stuff, like the phone, contacts and calendar, are solid, so if you just want a fancy phone that you can also run Palm software on, I'd still say it's a good machine, but if you want to do email, web, etc. I would recommend strongly against it:

  • Their built-in web browser, Blazer, has about the worse possible design I can imagine. The entire UI blocks all the time. You can't scroll a loading page until it's completely loaded. You can't scroll the current page as soon as you click something. There are no tabs. This makes my usual latency-hiding techniques, of (a) loading stuff in another tab while I read current stuff, and (b) clicking a link and then reading the current page until it loads, useless.
  • You can get Opera for it, but only the non-native Java version, not a Tréo-specific version. It's somewhat better than Blazer, in that it's faster and blocks less, but since it's Java, it crashes left and right, and sometimes locks up the machine completely, to the point where you have to hit the hardware reset button.
  • The built-in mail program, VersaMail, is also a complete piece of junk. It completely fails to handle non-7bit-ASCII encodings, randomly decides to re-download your entire mailbox, blocks while downloading, crashes often, etc.
  • The new Gmail phone app is Java-only right now, meaning that while it runs, it exhibits all the crashing and lock-up problems that Opera has. Using Gmail in a web browser is also a no-go due to the above browser problems.

The one bright light is the Google Maps for Mobile app, which is Palm native and rocks my socks off. But I went to the tech talk, and believe you me it was no easy task writing that sucker. Apparently modern Palms run PalmOS on an Xscale processor which is emulating some old 16-bit Motorola CPU or something? Sounds godawful.

I suspect the next PalmOS with Linux and GTK will be a lot better. Hopefully it will also come with tinymail, which is all kinds of awesome.

Anyway, one of the reasons I went Palm instead of Crackberry is that I thought Palm had a larger software library. This is true, but it seems that most new mobile apps are Java, because it's a lot heasier to support a bunch of phones at once that way. All of Google's mobile apps supported Crackberry right away or soon after launching, because Crackberry does Java, for example.

So, dear LazyWeb, how are Crackberries for non-data stuff? Do the phone, contacts and calendar work well? Are there 3rd-party apps for stuff like reading ebooks? How well does the email work with Gmail? I'm unlikely to want to pay for the special Crackberry "push" email, unless I can con Google into paying for it :)

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!