Friday, May 1, 1998

A guide to upgrading your organizer


By Chris Brown

It's hard to believe, but it has only been a couple of years since the original Pilot connected organizers made their debut. If you jumped on the bandwagon back then, you were probably the envy of all your co-workers. They were lugging around clunky day planners to meetings while you simply pulled your unassuming Pilot organizer out of your shirt pocket. They were even more jealous when they found out that you were playing Hangman during those meetings.

There has been much change over the past two years, and Palm organizers have gone from novelty to necessity. And while you've held on to your Pilot 1000, your co-workers decided to go one-up on you and got themselves newer PalmPilot organizers. And just when they thought they were on the cutting edge, your boss comes into the conference room toting a brand-new Palm III.

Jealous? Don't be. There are plenty of ways to get yourself up to par with your co-workers and even your boss. There have been upgrade board options for Pilot and PalmPilot organizers since their introduction, and there are more very cool ones coming soon. The features of the upgrades can be rather confusing, so we'll talk about them one by one.

1 MB Memory Upgrade

This was the first kind of upgrade that Palm Computing offered. Basically, if you had a Pilot 1000 organizer with 128 K of memory or a Pilot 5000 organizer with 512 K, you could replace your memory board and increase your memory to 1 MB. No new tricks, just more memory.

There are a couple of misconceptions about this early upgrade board. First, many Pilot 1000 and 5000 users thought that this was an add-on chip to the existing memory. In other words, people thought that you would be adding 1 MB more of memory on top of the 128 K or 512 K you already had. Since the upgrade replaced the original board altogether, this was obviously not true.

Also, this upgrade board was discontinued with the introduction of the 1 MB Professional Upgrade. "Professional Upgrade"? Was the old one "amateur"? Well, there was a reason to call it a "professional" upgrade, as explained below, but except for the slight difference in name, some people did not know what they were buying. Some folks were duped into buying the original upgrade board, thinking they had gotten the 1 MB Professional Upgrade. Others never knew that there were two different products.

1 MB Professional Upgrade

So why put the "Professional" in the 1 MB Professional Upgrade? After the introduction of the PalmPilot Personal and PalmPilot Professional organizers, we didn't want to leave any early adopters of the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000 organizers without an upgrade path. The 1 MB Professional Upgrade replaces the memory board (including the ROM chip) on your Pilot 1000/5000 organizer or PalmPilot Personal organizer so that the memory capacity as well as the software is upgraded to that of the PalmPilot Professional. This is probably sweetest for Pilot 1000 owners, who not only get the biggest memory boost, but also the Palm OS 2.0 software and the PalmPilot Professional TCP/IP stack (making it Internet-ready and able to use the Mail feature).