Monday, March 28, 2005

Palm Tungsten T3 and Smart Keyboard

Background: I went to Florida (Key West!!!) in January. On the trip down, my T3 turned on until the battery ran out. It did that a few more times during that week in Key West. I was particularly annoyed, not just to be on a trip without my PDA, but also because LiIon batteries can discharge completely only so many times before they die (that's the common failure mode). Glad I packed a charging cable! But it didn't happen again for months ... until this weekend when I went to Florida again (Amelia Island). On the drive back, I thought about what those two Florida trips had in common that doesn't happen the rest of the time I use my T3 (at home, at work, or on other trips). My hubby's T3 doesn't do this, and we have almost identical software installed. I think my T3 turning itself on (but not off) is also tied to using my cell phone, because it had a few days in Key West of NOT doing this, when my cell phone was off. What's weird is that my cell phone is too old for Bluetooth, so I don't know why/how it's getting my T3 excited.

Problem: My Palm Tungsten T3 stays on until the battery drains all the way, despite the Power preference to turn off automatically after 1 minute idle.

Possible workaround: if you don't want your PalmOS (v5, not sure if v4 has this) to turn on without your permission, look at the Keylock preferences.

Solution: Once again (this is frustrating!), the solution is to TURN OFF THE IrDA KEYBOARD DRIVER! I normally only have this driver on while I'm using the keyboard, and off otherwise so that I can sync. However, on these Florida trips, I thought I might use the keyboard so I left the driver on. Now that the driver is off, my T3 is acting normally again.

Opinion: OK, so my Smart Keyboard works when I want it to work, and I don't have to reset to toggle the driver on and off. But it has three flaws: (1) the keyboard's AAA battery is dead after a week because it doesn't seem to power off the keyboard, (2) I can't sync with the keyboard driver active, and (3) the active keyboard driver also causes my T3 to destroy its battery. I think the lesson is obvious: leave that driver off as much as possible! But it's a little annoying.