Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Palm Pre Plus on TMobile

A few weeks back at the Capitol Hill Blockparty I put my name in a raffle for an ATT branded Palm Pre Plus and a few days later I got an e-mail from Palm letting me know that I won a spanking new one.

When it arrived it was of course sim locked which means it didn't work with T-Mobile. Calling ATT and asking for an unlock code (as the phone instructed me to do) didn't yield any result because the phone wasn't in their data base. The Internet claimed that you can actually buy some sim unlock and make it work with T-Mobile (Edge only). I went ahead and sent some money to the nice people from nextgenserver and promptly received a couple of e-mails.

I installed their software on my Windows 7 computer (this will get important later) but the instructions said that you need an activated phone. Though I discovered later they had some instructions at the end of the document (I never read manuals from start to finish) I started off to unlock my Palm via WiFi on my own and found this great description. Basically you want to install meta doctor by following the description on the web site. But before you doctor your jar you should adjust the make file. Especially some option which lets you bypass the FirstUseApp needs to be activated. I ended up running the meta doctor on my CentOS server (so any Linux will probably do) and then installed on the Palm from my Mac.

This allowed me to activate the device via WiFi and got me one step closer to actually using it. Back to the nextgenserver's software: It didn't work and I asked support - back and forth troubleshooting they finally revealed to me that Windows 7 wasn't supported which was also clearly stated in the manual (did I already say I don't read manuals?). At least I can attest their support is awesome.

Then I remembered that I had an old WinXP installation running under VirtualBox on my Mac. I put nextgenserver's software there, made it that the Palm was handled by VirtualBox (just click on the USB icon after you connect the Palm), and then after a couple tries (for whatever reason nextgenserver's software doesn't work the first, second, ... time) I finally got my unlock code. Being smarter I finally read the manual and found the part about resetting the diag drivers so I can put mp3s on the palm with USB. Did that and now it works like a charm.

I don't know if that is because I run it on T-Mobile but I noticed:
  • It drops calls. Never happened with my Blackberry.
  • It crashes when I put it in my pocket (this seems to be a common problem and can be solved with some paper)
  • It get unresponsive very often - the Blackberry showed a spinning wheel but the Palm just is unresponsive so I don't know what is going on.
  • The edge data doesn't seem to be happy all the time. But that can also be TMobile. I occasionally had to reboot my Blackberry to get the data back. (might be TMobile's revenge for me being on a grandfathered $5.99 data plan)
  • The web browser is awesome but e-mail lacks a search function. The GMail app on Blackberry had that and I am addicted to it. But the Palm mail looks nicer
  • Almost every app looks nicer on the Palm. TinyTwitter on the Blackberry was a pain whereas Spaz on the Palm is awesome
  • The card interface is awesome. I really like being able to check the status of each app while sliding
  • The browser stops rendering when in card view. It will only load the web site when in full view, WTF?? I love opening multiple browser windows... and then checking back. Opera mini on Blackberry did a better job.
  • The headphones leave an aesthetically unpleasing gap...
It's a really neat device and far more fun then my old Blackberry... so overall I am happy.



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