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JPilot for old Palm Pilot Devices


I know this is probably going to be your first question. Why on earth would you still be using a palm pilot device? OK, hear me out.

Back in 2002 when I lived in Europe for several years I purchased a Tungsten C Palm Pilot (photo down below). While I was never interested in  earlier Palm Pilots at the time, this new model had a full color screen as well as wifi capability. There was a model or two before this one that also had wifi but had a nub antenna sticking out. The Tungsten C had it built in and looked sleek. I wanted one and thought it would be perfect to manage my travels, read PDF books on it, play games and check my email where ever I could find a wifi connection (wow, that was 10 years ago now??). Basically, this was a $250 smart phone without the phone.

I still have it. I recently found my Palm in a drawer of my retired electronics that Ive saved. I powered it up, connected to my home wifi, was able to check my email, etc.

There is a great app in Ubuntu called jPilot. Ive used it years ago as well as gnome-pilot. jPilot IMO is easier to use. I plugged in my Palm Pilot, selected "Install User" from the jPilot menu and it installed me into the jPilot application. You need to do this before adding apps, syncing, restoring, etc.

I remember back in the Windows days the Palm software was heavy and slow. Installing an application or syncing the device took minutes. Worse would be backing up or restoring. All of this is super quick in Ubuntu with jPilot.

OK, so you are still asking WHY use one of these old devices. While development of apps has pretty much ceased to exist for these little handheld computers, they can still be put to use. Here is how Im now making use of mine. Since the Tungsten C has wifi access, I can check email and browse the web with it. There is a free app called Chatopus that offers IM for all the major chat clients like MSN, ICQ, Google Talk, Yahoo, Facebook, Gadu Gadu and more.

With a little bit of skill you can search the internet and find an old application called "Skype for IM+" and use Skype on this device. This allows you to chat or MAKE CALLS if you have a wifi connection. While its not as ideal as a smart phone, you can buy a Palm Tungsten C on eBay for about $30 and the nice part is you are NOT stuck into a smartphone contract.

Like I said, this device, easily sync capable with JPilot can keep me in touch without the $60 a month phone contract + the $30 a month data package. Doesnt this old device sound useful again? No phone contract, no data plan, no foreign roaming charges when you are travelling overseas. Its awesome!

There are a bunch of old games and apps out there. One of my fave is called WorldMate. Not surprising, they now have modern apps for Android and iPhone, but at a cost. If you look around the net you can find all sorts of Palm Pilot apps. They are called PRC files. For example, Bejeweled might be called "bejeweled.prc". Once you have a PRC file, in jPilot you would click install and select it to be installed then click the Sync button on the Palm device and the sync button within jPilot. Super easy, super user friendly and battery life is pretty good.

* I have a few old apps Im willing to share if you have a palm device. Since many of the companies that made these apps are out of biz, I might consider posting them here in this article. Let me know if interested.

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  1. Anonymous6:52 PM

    It is so nice to find someone who also still appreciates how wonderful the Palm devices and its applications are even now.
    I would really enjoy sharing experiences with you on these marvelous devices. I still own a handspring with some of the original cartridges, a Tunsten C, and even a LifeDrive. I have had some issues with trying to sync the devices since the sync software change that stopped some things from working. I don't remember the specifics of that right now. I have upgraded to an android ereader and have an older itouch that I am trying to figure out, but I really miss using my Palm computers.

  2. Without a doubt, the Palm Calendar (DateBook) program is still the fastest, easiest to use, and arguably the most functional digital calendar available. I have an Android phone, but I still use my Tungsten E for the calendar. Great to hear that the C still sorts out web/email! I'll have to look for one.