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ATPM 14.02
February 2008





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A Cup of Coffee With That?

I don’t know what all the fuss is about over the e-book thing.

My wife and I have been reading books on our Palm Pilots for years now and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The screen resolution is excellent, it’s easy to see and read, the pages change in the blink of an eye, the search engine is excellent, there are a million books to choose from, the device fits in one’s purse or pocket and is always at the ready in the doctor or dentist’s office, or wherever else one ends up biding their time.

They are also great for reading in bed…no book-light required.

On that one little device we carry a number of books to choose from at any given time. We never leave home without ’em.

What more could one want?

If you are looking for a solution to e-book reading, check it out.

—Stanley Jayne

Grandma’s Life as a Video Star

What a great idea! If I have grandchildren, can you be our adopted grandmother? Your directions are so explicit, perhaps that won’t be necessary. However, you have something that can’t be found even in the iLife suite: lots of love. I’m sure Steve Jobs is working on putting that into iLife as we speak. He sure has made the greatest tools to share it, that’s for sure. You are to be commended.

—Tim Jones

• • •

I did this for my niece and it worked great! I used the built-in iSight camera and microphone on my MacBook Pro. For the DVD I found doing everything within the iDVD software rather than using the Apple Disk Utility gave better results. I highly recommend the video tutorials Apple has provided for the iLife ’08 applications. Thank you so much for this wonderful idea!

—Marcia Goetsch

Fin Laptop Handle/Stand

I have to warn about using such products with MacBooks. Apparently because the iSight was added to the bezel, the screens only fold back about 120 degrees. I have a long torso, and the limited angle means that when my Macbook Pro is on my lap, the screen is at too shallow an angle to my eyes. (An LCD screen has a limited viewing angle, so it becomes hard to see.) It’s a major problem when I stand up (e.g. doing a presentation), and even a marginal issue when the machine is on my desk.

Products like Fins-Up make the problem worse, by tilting both the keyboard and the screen forward. It’s not their fault—it’s Apple’s poor design—but we have to live with the effects. As far as I have noted, this problem happens with all portable Macs with built-in cameras.

—R Bohn

The inability of the AlBook and later Mac laptops to open past about 120 degrees has nothing to do with the integrated iSight and everything to do with the redesigned screen hinge. My AlBook, and all iBooks of similar design, has no integrated iSight at all, but is still “cursed” with that hinge.

I say “cursed” in quotes because the previous hinge designs in Mac laptops had a lot of problems which all seem to have been solved since Apple went to this new design. The downside, of course, is that you can no longer open the laptop as far as you formerly could.

If the screen becomes difficult to see when sitting on your desk because of a 1.5″ increase in the height of the screen, you are using a very ergonomically poor workspace and probably have your computer far below where it should be relative to your eyes. Furthermore, your comments would apply pretty much equally to all laptop stands ever reviewed here at ATPM, as they all force a greater screen angle than simply setting the laptop flat on a desk. Referencing my earlier comment about height, though, you should probably look into something like an iCurve (or a taller desk).

—Chris Lawson

How Did I End Up Here?

Thanks. I have been a satisfied Sprint customer for six years. After being a voice-only person, last week I purchased a Palm Centro (mini Treo), and find it very convenient and easy to setup and use. Speed has never been an issue, Sprint is fast, very fast, and reliable. I traveled to western Kansas this past weekend, and not one miss or hiccup in service or speed.

You are correct, it (Palm/Sprint) gives me everything I need and want…and “it just works!” Where have I heard that before?

—Rich Shields

• • •

Funnily enough…I did exactly the same thing, recently! However, I went to eBay and purchased myself a two-year-old Treo 650! (A cast-off from someone buying an iPhone, I wonder!?)

I’ve been using Palms since a trusty Palm III many years ago (and graduated through Handsprings and a Sony Clié NX70V); and, although my personal computer has always been an Apple (starting with a Mac Plus, and now an iMac), I see no reason why my handheld or my mobile needs to be the same brand (especially when I needed a very good reason to combine my Motorola V3 and Clié—which the iPhone currently isn’t…).

Also: I’ve always found Palms to be exceptionally reliable; and the sheer amount of software available (much of which I seem to have bought or tried over the years) is overwhelming—and often lovingly crafted by developers who respond immediately to bug reports and feature requests, etc. (even if the company itself is a little flaky ;-).

—Stephen Ward

• • •

I agree with most points Mike raises. And I’m likely to make the same Treo 755p (not your 775p typo, Mike!) purchase despite my allegiances to Apple. My wife informed me that she wants to get me a phone for my birthday this year to replace my Treo 600. My salivary glands went into overdrive as I instantly imagined my very own iPhone in my hands. But, then, reality set in.

First, we’re dedicated Verizon customers. Not because of our contract, but because we’ve been treated decently by their customer service and the coverage everywhere we go is excellent.

Second, when I was playing (note choice of word) with my sister’s iPhone last summer, I also got the distinct sense that “serious productivity tool” was not a good descriptor for the hot gadget, no matter how much its packaging and design appealed to me. I’ve tolerated the heavy, bulky Treo 600 for years mainly because it’s a PDA/phone/QWERTY keyboarded memo buddy. Prior to the Treo’s release, I had been one of those geeky jugglers of a PDA and cell phone. Now I’m only a geek without the juggling. Only the phone function seemed to be present in the iPhone (I couldn’t get comfortable with the iPhone’s touch screen keypad—no tactile feedback).

Third, I use Palm Desktop, and it has tons of my personal info that would take too much time/effort to transfer to an iPhone-usable format. Even though I find Palm Desktop laughable and pathetic (at least for the Mac), I still use it because it’s the most convenient PDA-computer software I’ve been able to find (Palm, please update the Desktop for Mac!).

I’ve also dropped my Treo and done ridiculous things to it, and it looks almost like it did when I purchased it some four years ago. I can’t imagine the highly chrome polished surface of the iPhone comfortably sustaining such abuse. And the profile of the iPhone—while allowing its stunningly beautiful screen to shine—is too large for me to comfortably carry around. Finally, I’ve got an iPod nano (3rd gen) that is in my pocket all the time, so that relieves me from needing the iPhone music function.

I loved my 12″ PowerBook, and I love my 15″ MacBook Pro and my iPod Nano. But I just couldn’t love an iPhone for what I’d need it to do for me. I still get excited when I see one and hold one in my hands, but it’s just not the productivity tool my finite pocket space requires.

—Michael Moon

• • •

Thanks for the interesting comments on the iPhone and Palm devices. I’ve owned and used a number of phones and PDAs over the years and have a few observations, based on my experience.

I’m currently an iPhone user. It isn’t a perfect device, and there are features it lacks that I’d like to have, but I think it suits me for now. I gave up my BlackBerry for my iPhone, and think it was a reasonable trade. I don’t send much e-mail from my phone, but I do read my e-mail on my phone, so the iPhone works. I miss the BlackBerry keyboard, but I don’t miss the hassle of synchronizing the BlackBerry and my Macs.

I started with a US Robotics PalmPilot many years ago and moved through a series of PDAs and phones, searching for something “optimal” that conforms to my way of working. Palm devices were stable and offered a reasonable software selection. When I switched to Macs, they worked with my Macs. Windows-mobile devices were fun and capable, but not stable—at least with the software suite I was using with them. Plus, after I switched, persuading a Windows-mobile device to talk to a Mac was, um, challenging. Yeah, that’s the word!

Ultimately, I decided I wanted to carry only one device. So, my PDA2008 went away and I searched for a smartphone capable of helping me manage my life as well as talk. The BlackBerry was a pretty good approximation. But, my frustration with synchronization made it less than what I wanted.

So, I bought iPhones for Wife and me. She’s happy as a clam. I can send and receive e-mail from the variety of accounts I actively use. I don’t send a lot of e-mail, but I can if I need to. I can track my calendar and do some minor Net surfing. The maps application is good, and I appreciate access to stock quotes and weather.

The iPhone needs a task manager. It needs an integrated GPS receiver (and application). With those two changes, I’d be happy.

I gave up on Sprint after a nasty customer-service issue. This happened when I was looking for a solution that ultimately led me to the BlackBerry. I got such a run-around that I gave up in frustration, bought Wife and I out of our contracts, and switched carriers. Their network was great; they dropped the ball on service.

—David Thompson

Tactile Pro


I was hoping the Tactile Pro 2 was going to save me, but it sounds pretty flakey.

Both my white crumb-catcher Mac keyboards are wearing out, and I’ve been looking for a decent keyboard for a over a year!

Why isn’t there a single well-made keyboard without a zillion extra buttons, gizmos, and gimmicks?

Locally, I can’t even find any Mac compatibles. If I ask, salesmen say, “Apple’s new keyboard is over here.” That thing is a pretty piece of design work, but an utterly unusable piece of junk! I could type better on a $20 generic.

After reading this, I’m not buying a board I can’t examine in person.

What is going on with the keyboard market?

More and more, keyboards are adopting the worst aspects of the worst keyboards and marketing them as if they’re some grand new innovations.

Flat with no contour; laptop style or chiclet keys; no indentation on key tops; no f & j knobblies; no labels; mushy or spongy feel; flimsy plastic; undersized F keys; laptop-type inline arrows; missing F keys, stupid splits and annoying wrist rests, built-in wheels, touch pads, “specialized” keys, and LCD displays!

How about something that’s good for typing?!

I knew things were headed in bad directions when I first saw a keyboard in the local CompUSA that looked and felt like a bad laptop keyboard and they wanted $124 for it!

Mice aren’t great either. Logitech is the only maker that does anything impressive, but their Mac software and tech support are terrible!


StudioBoard Mechanical Keyboard

I have now tried the Kensington StudioBoard, the Apple Extended Keyboard, and the MicroConnectors keyboard.

The Kensington StudioBoard and MicroConnectors keyboard are very close, in my opinion, in action and sound. I would have kept my Kensington StudioBoard except for the L-shaped return key. I ended up eBaying it, and found a MicroConnectors keyboard for much less ($1 plus shipping!) It’s a blueberry one, so it doesn’t look great (but is not so objectionable considering its heritage and G3 iMac style—the black keys temper the fruitiness.) The overall build quality is as good as the Kensington, so I am very happy with it. If I found two or three at a garage sale for cheap, I would buy them all as backups.

The Apple Extended Keyboard is the best of all three, in my opinion. I haven’t seen an Apple Extended Keyboard that isn’t yellowed by now, but as an old Mac user I like the retro look (and retro build quality.) The key action is similar to the others, but the sound is not as objectionable due to its great build quality (the others have sort of a ringing, hollow sound, and it seems from reviews that the Matias is even louder in this respect.)

Once you decide to shell out for a Griffin iMate (I found a used one for $10 so it was easy for me), the Apple Extended keyboard is a great choice for Mac users (PC users too, though they can also pick up a Model M). I have not tried the Extended II, which I understand is similar but not exactly the same.

(By the way, the new slim aluminum Apple keyboard is better than I thought it would be, much better than the previous mushy white keyboard. But it’s still not a match for any of these three keyboards if you like a clacky mechanical mechanism keyboard.)



After submitting the BusySync review, BusyMac released version 1.5 which, among other things, includes syncing over the Internet in addition to via local network. It is worth checking out.

—Ed Eubanks, Jr.

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