Saturday, November 8, 2003
Amazing Upgrades from Pocket PC Techs
Posted by Sponsor in "SPONSORED ARTICLES" @ 02:30 PM
"I finally took the plunge and upgraded my iPAQ in January. I ordered the following upgrade with PPC Techs:
• 128MB stacked RAM upgrade
• stylus lock replacement
• 2100 mAH battery
• screen rework
The hardest part for me was being prepared to go without the iPAQ for a week to 10 days. The time from when I first sent in my iPAQ and getting a working one actually was much longer, because I had problems the first time around. But although there were some snags in my upgrade experience, I think I was well rewarded in the end, and the service was great throughout (they were very responsive via email or phone).
I have an iPAQ 3650 and had upgraded my iPAQ to 64MB with Times2Tech before. I found that are no problems upgrading to 128MB even if you had previously upgraded to 64MB. When they say 64 MB upgrade, they actually mean 32 MB (your original RAM) and 32 MB additional memory.
When they say 128 MB upgrade, they actually mean 64 MB (your original RAM) and 64 MB additional memory, except they also put the new 64MB of memory in a different partition, which they call T2T Disk. Your Pocket PC treats it like a built-in compact flash card. There are two ways to go, you could either upgrade it using stacked RAM, or native RAM. I picked the stacked RAM option, it works just fine, and I cannot tell the difference between programs running on it and programs running in internal memory. With the stacked RAM, one has to install a driver (that is provided with the upgrade) so that the extra memory could be found.
Initial Impressions, Trials and Tribulations
The first time I got the iPAQ back, it was about 7 days (not counting weekends) before they shipped it back to me. It felt a little heavier initially, but I've got used to it almost immediately so I didn't notice it anymore. Almost all the dust has been removed – I used a black screen as a test, the white specks are no more. Now I can see clearly, and all I see is a flaw in the screen that had been there before. It wasn’t as noticeable before for all the dust that had accumulated.
The first time I got the iPAQ back, my iPAQ had a number of problems:
They had included a complementary WriteShield and some cleaning wipes. The iPAQ screen was less accurate and required frequent alignments. Sometimes it was fine, sometimes was a struggle to tap even one word correctly -- it may have depended on the program I'm running -- I'm not sure. I use the Fellowes WriteRight screen protectors, which are a pain to put on, but allows me to tap the screen lightly. This habit may have compounded the problem, because I think the WriteShield requires more pressure than I’m used to. Finally, I removed the Write Shield – and my iPAQ responded better. But there was still something wrong and I had to realign my screen often. When I sent it in the second time (see below), they fixed this problem and my screen is ok now.
The aluminum stylus lock replacement was not what I had expected. My stylus had been falling out occasionally, this stylus lock works, but is was ugly. The chrome button had been replaced by an aluminum button, which was rough to the touch. I decided to live with my old stylus lock, and asked whether they could exchange my stylus lock for my old one back. They had a stylus lock with a chrome top and mailed it to me almost instantaneously – and I think it was a new one. Before I was able to perform the surgery, though, some other problems came up so I sent the whole iPAQ back, chrome top stylus lock replacement and all.
My software also had some anomalies the first time around. I usually use Pocket Backup (by Sprite Software) to back up my iPAQ to Compact Flash. But after the upgrade, Pocket Backup did not work anymore. When I tried to back up, it did the equivalent of a Hard Reset. It was very frustrating and after trying a few times and wasting gobs of time, I was afraid that I would never be able to back up to Compact Flash again. That is not the case (after I sent it back for repairs).
Apparently, when they did the upgrade, a bad memory chip had made it in there, and that was causing all the problems that I was having. The life saver for me was Battery Pack 2002 (by Omega One). I would never have guessed that the pretty little today plug in would help me find the problem. This software tells me how much memory is in RAM, ROM, and the T2T Disk (which it found automatically and classified as a storage card). It told me that I had 127 MB Secondary/Flash RAM total, in addition to my 64 MB RAM. I so wish it were true, but from my past experience, I knew that a 128 MB upgrade really means 64 MB stacked + 64 MB RAM (original). When I contacted PPC Techs, they identified that as a bad flash chip – problem solved. So I once again performed a hard reset and send my iPAQ in again. It had been almost 2 weeks since I had first received my iPAQ back.
Second Time Around – Bliss!
The second time I sent my iPAQ in, the turnaround was 3 days. And it was a big difference. They reason why it took me so long to write a review, is because I can’t drain the battery without actually making a conscious effort to do so. I still don’t know what the actual battery life is, except it lasts longer than when I have to sync. The battery charges up very quickly also, I think it takes about the same time as the original battery between charges. Part of the reason is due to my the Battery Pack, which now warns me when the battery is at 25% rather than 40% (the default for Pocket PC 2002). I can actually do something for a long period of time without being interrupted by the annoying battery alarm. And it has not interrupted me since I upgraded the battery, so 2100 mAH is the right capacity for my needs.
Battery Pack now shows the flash card memory in T2T Disk correctly as 64 MB. I can install most of my programs on T2T Disk, except for a few. I find that out by reading the installation instructions, or by trial and error. I estimate that about 70% of the program will have no problems residing on T2T Disk, and about 10% more will work with a little bit of tweaking (registry or shortcuts). All the programs I have installed are functioning. I now have plenty of room available in my internal RAM, even though my iPAQ is loaded with goodies.
Before I had loaded up all my programs, I was able to sync directly from Mazingo to the T2T Disk at blazing speed and without the CF sleeve! I originally got the memory upgrade for some program space, and I had a difficult choice deciding which is better -- more multimedia or more programs!
The upgrade is probably not for everybody. Do not upgrade if you are purchasing a new Pocket PC, or if you still want your manufacture to service your Pocket PC -- the upgrade will void your manufacturer’s warranty (PPC Techs provide a separate one for their work for a few months). Do not upgrade if you cannot live without your Pocket PC, even for a short time.
That said, upgrade if you want longer battery life so you won’t be interrupted, or if you use it as much as I do for various things. It was difficult for me to live without the convenience of my iPAQ for even a little while. It was also expensive and one could buy a new Pocket PC for the cost I paid to upgrade.
But I was confident that PPC Techs had the experience to perform the job and correct problems. And I’m very glad I did the upgrade, even the battery upgrade alone would have been worth it for me. Now I have a lot of memory and freedom to upgrade my existing software without worrying whether I would run out of RAM, and plenty of room for books, multimedia, and my creations – artistic & otherwise. The memory is a blank sheet of paper that allows you to do what you want to do.
I’m not affiliated with PPC Techs, only grateful that they are there for upgrades and repairs."
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