Hands On the Palm Power to Go

by Reads (44,008)

Palm’s latest high-end model, the Tungsten T3, is a great handheld in almost every way. But it suffers from a short battery life. To help combat this, Palm offers the Power To Go, a clip-on battery charger.

It isn’t only for the T3. It can also be used with any Palm-branded model that uses the Palm Universal Connector, which debuted back on the m500 series a few years ago. Unfortunately, it isn’t compatible with some of Palm’s newest models, like the Tungsten E and Zire 21. But the T3 is the model that needs a recharger like this the most and is the one I tested it with.

The Power To Go clips to the back and bottom of the handheld. It doesn’t interfere with the T series’ sliding mechanism in any way. However, while it’s physically possible to connect the two with the flip cover still attached, I would strongly recommend you not carry them around this way, as you can’t lock them together. You are also not going to be able to use the Power To Go with your handheld in any kind of case.

The recharger is fairly small, so it’s something you can easily put in your pocket and bring with you on a trip. If you clip it onto your handheld, it adds .35 inches to the thickness and nothing to the width, as it’s just 2.2 inches wide. It does add about .4 inches to the length, though. It doesn’t interfere with your use of the handheld in any significant way.

Recharging the handheld with the Power To Go takes about the same amount of time as it does with the cradle. Actually, when it is connected to the Power To Go, the handheld thinks it is in its cradle. That’s why you’ll need to go into preferences and set your handheld to not stay on when it is in the cradle. Otherwise, if you forget to manually turn it off, your handheld will stay on until the recharger is totally drained.

The Power To Go has a HotSync port on its back, and you recharge it by putting it in the Palm’s cradle. It also means you can put your handheld in its cradle with it still attached to the recharger. The handheld is recharged first, then the Power To Go.

There is an LED on the front that glows green to show the Power To Go’s battery is charging. A second one indicates the level of the battery when you push a button. It glows green when the battery is fully charged, orange when the battery is less than 80%, and red when it is below 20%. In fact, the Power To Go is willing to charge the handheld to the point where its battery is no longer even able to light up the LED.

Palm says the Power To Go is capable of fully charging any of its models at least once. When I tested it with the Tungsten T3, it recharged the handheld, on average, about two and a half times. Of course, older models like the m500 series can probably get more charges than that, while the Tungsten C and W, which have large capacity batteries, will get fewer charges.

Do You Need This?

While there’s no doubt most people with a compatible handheld could find a use for one of these, it costs $100, which makes it too expensive to get unless you really need it. I don’t think everyone who carries their handheld with them on trips needs one. Hotel rooms have electrical sockets, after all, and you can get a portable AC adapter for a lot less than $100. You can also get an accessory that will let you recharge your handheld from a 9-volt or other battery for less than $20. These generally make it difficult for you to use your handheld while it is charging, though.

Therefore, if you frequently use your handheld for more than a couple of hours a day, the Power To Go can be a lifesaver. If you bring your Palm with you on a long plane flight so you can get some work done, you don’t want to run out of power halfway through the flight. And I know there are plenty of students who take notes on their handhelds all day long and need their devices to not run out of power before lunch. So if you frequently get low battery warnings in situations where can’t stop and recharge it, you should really consider the Power To Go.



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