Palm T|X and Pocket Tunes: Hold function, anyone?

published Jun 07, 2006, last modified Jun 26, 2013

Update: I solved this issue

As you may or may not know, today is my third day with my Palm T|X (a.k.a. TX). It's been great to finally have a Palm back, after many years of forgetting appointments and scrambling for phone numbers. But there is a reason why the purchase has left me dissatisfied.

I also bought the Palm T|X for the music. Unlike the Zire and Z22 models (which were my first choice) this handheld has the ability to play music. With a hundred megs of internal memory, and SD card expansion capability, the T|X should make a great portable music player. Thus (so I thought) I would save myself the iPod money and buy a car stereo and a set of speakers.

Silly me.

The T|X comes with software to play music, called Pocket Tunes. Pocket Tunes does a very good job. It even blanks the screen after a couple of seconds, saving battery. It also has an option to disable screen taps, so the handheld won't turn on by accidental taps on the screen (e.g. while jogging or climbing a flight of stairs).

But they forgot to include Hold-type functionality. Yeah, Hold, that nice button on portable music and CD players which disables the hard buttons temporarily. Thus, walking or driving while listening music is impossible. Whether you're wearing jeans, shorts or trousers, your upper leg keeps turning the device on, and pressing the 5-way navigation keys, altering the volume and randomly skipping songs.

I mean, maybe the Palm guys didn't foresee this, and they didn't build Hold-type functionality in the device. But I would expect Pocket Tunes to supplement that, given that it already blanks the screen, disables screen taps, and keeps the device on while listening to music.

Anyway, here's my support question and its answer. He's quoted, and my reply is in plain text:

Disabling the hard buttons is a function left to the Palm OS. NormSoft simply could not start changing the behaviour of the palm OS.

That is plainly untrue. Don't take me for an idiot.

You already:

  • override the power off timeout, replacing it with a screen blanking function (yes, you do, because when the Palm is off, Pocket Tunes can't run)
  • override the touch screen functionality, to prevent accidental taps from turning the device on

Temporarily overriding the hard buttons when blanking the screen on playback should be comparatively easy.

Ideally, the buttons should remain overridden until the Power button is pressed, which should unblank the screen and restore hard button functionality.

My advice is that you look into a carrying case for the T|X.

This is an unsatisfactory response. Had I foreseen this issue, I would not have bought a Palm. I would have bought an iPod and installed Rockbox on it.

As it currently stands, Pocket Tunes is an "look, I can play MP3"-type application that I show my friends to impress them, but I can't really use it to listen to music while doing other things, exactly because of this issue.

All sane portable music players do have Hold. CD players, MP3 players, the iPod itself. You can't expect Pocket Tunes to be more than a "parlor trick" application without Hold.

Manipulating PocketTunes is an involved operation already - one that requires more attention and time than the time similar operations take on an iPod.

Do you really think users want to add the cumber of opening a hard case and taking the device out of the case as well?

There are many nice cases out there that would stop from accidental press on the hard button.

Yes, they are surely nice. Having to open them each time I want to skip a song, change the volume, equalizer, or any other quick operation is extremely cumbersome.

This response begs the question: do you guys really use the product you sell? I give you two days listening to Pocket Tunes with one of the newer Palm models and you'll see what I'm talking about.