Uses for an old PDA
March 11, 2011 6:34 AM   Subscribe

I found my old Palm T|X today. It doesn't (AFAIK) do anything my mobile phone doesn't do these days, and it's considerably bulkier, but it seems like a waste to just recycle it. Is there anything interesting I can do with an aging PDA?

I don't want to bother selling it on eBay, since I can't change the system language to German and the charger only has a US plug and that's not very useful where I live.
posted by cmonkey to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe you can use it as a e-book reader? I have not used Palm T|X, but I guess the screen is more eyes-friendly than mobile phones.

For myself, I have an spare Palm Treo 650 phone which I was in love with for over 3 years. But now it is just so out-of-date then I have to let it laid down in the drawer. I have not figured out a way to make use of it, either.
posted by yezimary at 6:47 AM on March 11, 2011

You can sell it for parts. I know there are people who refurbish old Palms and re-sell them.
posted by mkb at 6:58 AM on March 11, 2011

I have a couple of old Samsung i700s lying around (and an HP PDA somewheres too), and I'm saving them for when all of my media output devices are connected to my LAN. Then I'll use them for remotes.
posted by carsonb at 6:59 AM on March 11, 2011

Read ebooks, play dopewars and other games, use it as a TV remote with programs like OmniRemote. There are also neat little MIDI programming tools, scientific calculators and other widgets.

Or make a robot. Palm Pilot Robot Kit. Here's another.

You can also probably use it for some home automation stuff, but at this point the Palm is surpassed by things like Arduino boards, zigbee networks, programmable X11 controllers and so on.

I used to collect Palm Pilots until I realized I had about a dozen of them in various states of disrepair and maybe one of kind of worked. I loved the things. The software and system is great. But for some reason the hardware was about as reliable and sturdy as a wad of wet tissues, and the HotSync/PalmDesktop application was hideous.

I'd spend hours loading them with useful data and apps, bus time tables, tide chart calculators, astronomy star charts, ebooks... and then whenever I really wanted to use it in the field I'd invariably drop whatever hacked together Frankenstein of a Palm Pilot I had at the time and it would explode like a pinata. In the best case it would reset or lock up and lose all the data. The worst case? I once had a single rain drop hit the exact corner of the touch screen where the "air bleed" gap was that allowed the layers of the screen to breath.

Water wicked up into the gap between the touch screen plastic and glass in a fraction of a second, killing the digitizer dead.
posted by loquacious at 7:05 AM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

In same boat. Own two T|X Palms (wife and mine) I still use mine for a chess program that is still one of the strongest out there (Hiarcs) If you're a chess geek, you'll understand. With that said, I spoke with the developer, as soon as he creates an android version, it'll likely be the end of the T|X.
posted by teg4rvn at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2011

I sold mine on eBay recently. A company that seems to use old handhelds as the UI for some other kind of device bought it. They probably have all kinds of resources for reprogramming it and have a room full of parts and accessories.
posted by thefool at 8:05 AM on March 11, 2011

Read the error codes and tune your car's computer.
posted by PSB at 8:45 AM on March 11, 2011

I'm now using the PDA to control my SqueezeBox classic, which is great.

And I've discovered that ScummVM runs on Palm so my commute to work will never be the same again.
posted by cmonkey at 10:02 AM on March 11, 2011

Install bhaji's loops and write music! As far as I know, bhaji's is still the gold standard for digital audio creation on a mobile platform; it seems that smartphones, for all their multimedia promises, really have yet to step up to the plate in this arena. Most of the apps I've seen for phones have been simple toys in the vein of the "microphone ocarina" or "touch-screen keyboard", whereas people have used bhaji's loops to write entire albums.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2011

A colleague keeps his old Treo in the pantry, and he and his wife use it as a dedicated shopping list device.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:26 AM on March 11, 2011

Some of these quirky uses might be fun, but those who are suggesting using it as a e-reader have not spent a lot of time reading on a Palm screen. I had a couple of Palms back in the day and tried using one as a Bible reader. Horrible. Never could read more than a few screens at a time without my eyes crossing. Screens have come a long way.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:19 PM on March 11, 2011

Yeah, I tried reading on it, and it just didn't seem like it would work out for a long session for me. But it does seem to still have some life in it as an emulated game platform and musical toy, so thanks for the suggestions!
posted by cmonkey at 10:55 PM on March 11, 2011

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