Official Gadgeteer Hands On Review: Palm V USB Hotsync + Charger Cable
by Julie Strietelmeier
Last date revised: 05/24/2001

Product Requirements:
Palm V/Vx
Windows 95/98/2000, Mac

Do you know what I hate...? Running out of serial ports and AC outlets. Yeah, I know, that's a crazy thing to hate. But when you have as many PDAs, gadgets and doohickeys as I do, it's a major feat to find a free serial port and a free power outlet for them. I'm constantly crawling under my computer desk to pull out the charger for gadget A so that I can charge gadget B. So, when I found the Palm V USB hotsync + charger cable in my mailbox from Brando, I was happy as a clam.

This cable solves two of my main problems. Number one, I don't need a serial port to plug it into. It uses USB. And number two, it draws power from the USB port thus not needing a AC outlet. Totally convenient. 

The first thing that you have to do before using this cable is to install the driver software which comes on a mini CD. Once the driver is installed, you can go into the hotsync setup preferences on your desktop and switch the Serial port to the newly enabled COM3 port. So, if you haven't already guessed, this cable won't give you true USB fast syncing... It gives you a new serial port that is accessed thru USB, but doesn't require a separate IRQ.

Installation was simple. I did run into a problem with my PC though. When I have the cable connected, my PC won't boot up. It gets stuck on the Windows 98 logo screen. If I unplug the cable, booting resumes. This is probably something specific to my setup though as I have had other USB wackiness in the past. 

The cable is about 5.4 feet (1.7 meters) long with a USB connector on one end and a Palm V clip-on connector on the other end. A few inches below the Palm V connector is an oval shaped module. This module has the hotsync button / charger LED and separate TX and RX LEDs.

The hotsync button is green and has a green LED in the middle of it. It remains on at all times regardless if a PDA is attached or not. I think it would be better if it remained on only while charging and turned off once a full charged was reached.

The TX and RX LEDs are red and blink during hotsync to indicate data transfer. This is cute but I don't think it is necessary or makes the product any better.

What about syncing speed? Well, I did a few tests comparing the speed of syncing with this USB cable as opposed to a regular serial cable and a Visor Prism via USB. Here are my results:

  Palm V and 
USB Cable
Palm V and 
Serial Cradle
Visor Prism and 
USB Cradle
Time to sync a
1.2mb file
~ 2.5 mins ~ 2.5 mins ~ 45 sec

As you can see, the syncing times for serial and this USB cable were the same. So, don't buy this cable thinking it will speed up your hotsyncs. Buy this cable if you want a easier way to connect to your PC and don't have an extra AC adapter. It is also a nice travel option for people that already have a notebook PC with a USB port. 


Price: $36.00

Sync and charge thru one USB connection

Charge LED doesn't turn off when done charging

Let me know your comments on the Palm V USB Hotsync + Charger Cable and read what others have to say.