February 3, 2005

PalmConnect USB

I just had some trouble hooking up a Palm VIIx using the PalmConnect serial-to-USB converter, so I wanted to jot down my experiences with it so maybe they’ll help someone else.

The Palm VIIx comes with a cradle that can only plug into a serial port. But if you have a laptop or Macintosh or other computer with no serial port, you’ve got to find a way to plug it in via USB. That’s what this little device does, convert the serial to USB. And suck $30 out of your pocket while it’s at it. But that would be okay if it was simple to use. The problem is that this little bastard is extremely picky, and it will only work on its own very specific terms.

The first time I plugged it in, Windows XP recognized it and installed drivers for it with no problem. But it wouldn’t hotsync. I got nothing. So I went to the supplied CD, found some Windows 2000 drivers, and “updated” to the older drivers. This changed it from being called a “Palm Handheld” in Device Manager to a “PalmConnect USB Adapter”. So that seemed to be an improvement, now that it was being called what it really was. But already this was turning out to be more steps than it should.

And still it wouldn’t hotsync.

So, after much Googling I found this page, where at the bottom it suggests reinstalling the Palm Desktop software. But—here’s the key, apparently—when you upgrade from the version 3.x that came with the Palm to the version 4.x that’s available now, make sure to install the 4.x in a different directory than the 3.x. I did this by installing 3.x, running the 4.x setup, and then halfway through the 4.x setup using Windows Explorer to change the 3.x folder name to something else. Palm Desktop 4.x installed just fine, and, wonders of wonders, I finally got a hotsync.

Should it be this difficult? No. Should they charge you $30 for the privelege of jumping through this many hoops? No. While researching for this post I found the Amazon page for the PalmConnect. You can’t buy it new, but there are plenty of third-party new and used ones available. But the real eye-opener comes on the comments page, where there are 75 comments, each one mentioning how they had a problem setting it up or have had problems after installation. Sounds like a junky piece of crap to me, and it’s too bad there isn’t anything else you can buy to do the same function. It’s also too bad that I have one at my office now, and I’m going to be the one fixing it when it goes ass-up.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

Comments (4)

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  1. MatchASM says:

    $30 is a lot for a converter. You can get a whole new Palm for USB at probably around the same price. Incidentally, I just bought one myself this week, and it had some trouble syncing with KDE. PDAs suck, right? 🙂

    Posted February 4, 2005 @ 3:27 am
  2. Kalrac says:

    A couple of months ago, I would have taken exception to the fact that you were using a Palm device, rather than a Microsoft Pocket PC or other such CE powered device. Now, however, I’ll just complain that you Googled, rather than Dogpiled.
    But seriously… 9-pin Serial? Where did you get something that still uses that?

    Posted February 4, 2005 @ 5:51 pm
  3. Dove says:

    Thanks for a very useful review. With 30$ and all that difficulties, I decide to throw away that VIIx and buy a new one. 😛

    Posted February 23, 2005 @ 12:33 pm
  4. Wolf says:

    If anything, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I have a Palm IIIc, and just recieved my Serial-to-USB adapter last night; ended up going to bed grinding my teeth in fury. I had also just upgraded to Desktop 4.x last week, so now I’ll try this “directory swap”. Thanks for the tip!

    Posted February 24, 2005 @ 5:11 am

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