Tips & Tricks Every webOS User Should Know! (Part 5 of 5)
We’ve come to our final entry in our Tips & Tricks series but don’t despair, kids. Because Totally Palmed has brought out the Big Guns and you will leave satisfied, I assure you. Today, we are going to talk about the final two things every webOS user should know about: battery life and media sync!
If you’re just joining us, you’ve got some serious catching up to do. So march on over to Parts 1-4, and then come back to us. We’ll be here waiting patiently. The journey’s worth it! 🙂
- Part One: System and Launcher
- Part Two: Phone and Contacts
- Part Three: E-mail and Messaging
- Part Four: Calendar, Browser, and Camera
Okay… done? Welcome back. Let’s do this!!!
Look, let’s not sugar-coat this: the battery life on the Palm Pre sucks. While we’d all like to place the blame squarely on Palm, it’s a sad reality that battery technology simply has not kept pace with mobile technology… until that happens, pretty much all smartphones (not just the Palm Pre and Pixi) are going to have to make compromises. That said, there are ways to make make your Palm Pre or Pixi more “Prius” and less “Hummer” when it comes to battery consumption. Lots of sites out there (like Precentral) explain this in detail, but here’s the top 5 tips that have helped me the most:
1) Carry a spare
Yeah. I know how bad it looks when this is my first recommendation. I do it on purpose because I don’t want you to be under any delusions, here: sometimes it will feel like no matter what you do, your battery is dying faster than (insert clever analogy here) . Still, it’s nice that the Pre has the option to slap in a spare battery, unlike other phones *cough* iPhone *cough*. Plus, spare batteries are small and tough enough to stow in a pocket or purse. There are plenty of options out there:
- Palm Pre battery (1150mAh)
- Palm Centro battery (1150mAh): Same size and juice as Pre’s battery, dirt cheap. Many have reported success with this, but Palm discourages it on their website.
- Seidio batteries: Seidio makes two flavors of spares:
- 1350 extended: ~10% more juice. Same size as stock. Touchstone compatible.
- 2600 hi-capacity: Doubles capacity. Makes your Pre 5mm fatter.
- Amzer batteries: Amzer produces even more power choices:
- 1400 extended: ~10% more juice. Same size as stock. Touchstone compatible.
- 2800 hi-capacity: Doubles capacity. Makes Pre 5mm fatter.
- 3800 ultra hi-capacity: 3x capacity. Makes your Pre are-you-kidding-me fat.
- Mugen Power batteries: same exact power choices as Amzer. Many folks like this brand.
- Extended batteries on eBay: These come in all shapes, sizes, and pretty much all from China. I cannot vouch for these batteries personally, though some of my Twitter followers have used them and are very pleased. To my knowledge, none of the larger capacity batteries requiring a different back plate are Touchstone compatible.
2) Charge frequently
You cannot “overcharge” the Pre’s battery. In fact, with time, frequently charging these lithium ion batteries actually improves their performance, while it being at low charges hurt performance. No need to “run it all the way down" to then recharge. Don’t be afraid to charge your battery overnight or have it constantly plugged into your laptop or wall charger. Me personally? I carry a Smartphone Experts retractable USB charging cord at work. Ten bucks. Very handy.
3) Turn screen brightness to minimum
In my experience, one of the single biggest battery killers is having the screen on really bright. Whenever you’re indoors, my advice would be to reduce it to a minimum. Not 50%, not 40%, I mean ALL the way down.
4) Turn GPS and Bluetooth off, wi-fi ON
If you’re not using these features, then just say “no.” Unless you use a device menu patch (what’s a patch? See homebrew below!), GPS can be a hassle to access on a regular basis. My advice would be to move the “Location Services” to the first page of your launcher. Fortunately, Bluetooth is easy enough to turn on and off by tapping the upper right hand corner of your screen to bring up the device menu.
Wifi is another matter. Supposedly, wifi sucks less juice than your network connection. If you’re in a wifi hotspot, leave your wifi on. (I’ve had mixed results with this, but others swear by it.)
Of course, the best battery saver is putting your phone in “Airplane Mode,” which shuts off ALL radios.
5) Connect to the “cloud” as little as possible
- Email fetch: make it less frequent. There’s a difference in the type of email that you use, too. EAS Exchange sync uses less battery then Gmail, which uses less battery than POP3 clients, such as Hotmail.
- Internet messaging: If you’re not actively using it, switch it off. It keeps you constantly connected to the internet when left on. Just tap “buddies” in the messaging app and tap the green icon where it says “Available.” Select “Sign Off.”
- Background apps: Deal search apps, Twitter notifications, RSS readers, weather apps… these are all great (I use ‘em a lot), but if you want to minimize battery consumption, then these need to have their background processes switched off. Not only do they connect to the cloud, they also use system resources even when they’re not connecting.
When the Palm Pre launched in June 2009, Palm had hoped Apple would allow their iTunes customers to use the program on different platforms, including webOS. Unfortunately Apple had other ideas, and deliberately blocked direct sync with the Palm Pre after iTunes 9.0.1. This makes things a tad more difficult for iTunes customers, but there’s still ways for you to sync music (as well as other media) to your webOS device. I won’t go into much detail about each method here – that’s coming in a future article – but as a webOS user, you should at least know about the different options available to you.
Wait… before we start, what’s the difference between Media Sync and USB Drive?
Media Sync is basically the way the webOS phones spoof themselves as an iPod to your computer. This is great for people who are used to the iTunes system of managing files. The biggest downfall of this is, it organizes your media using the iTunes file structure on your phone. If you ever need to “dig” in your phone’s files to find a particular song, good luck.
USB Drive basically converts your phone into a flash drive. This is great for users who would rather create their own file structure, and just transfer their media in a drag/drop fashion. The huge problem with this is that playlists do not transfer using this method. I hope Palm addresses this.
… Okay, satisfied? Let’s move on to different media sync methods…
1) Good ol’ drag and drop
As I stated in Part One of my Tips and Tricks series, you can use your webOS device as a flash drive. This is awesome for moving pictures, videos, important documents, and yes… music! Just plug your phone in, select “USB Drive,” and just drag your music files to your phone. If properly tagged, the songs’ album art and tag info (artist, album) will transfer as well. Unfortunately, playlists do not transfer.
2) Stick with iTunes
Downgrade to iTunes 9.0.1
If you haven’t updated iTunes lately, great! Don’t do anything! If you have updated, no worries. The most recent version that successfully past version 9.0.1, you do have the option of downloading iTunes 9.0.1 at http://www.oldapps.com/itunes.php. I recommend you read up on how to do this properly before diving in head-first.
If you swear by iTunes but are nervous about “downgrading,” then this might be an option. iTunes Agent basically interfaces other non-iPod devices with iTunes and forces them to shake hands. It’s pretty bare in terms of features, but it does what it says. Just connect in Media Sync Mode and away you go.
Salling Media Sync
Available for free for Mac and Windows, Salling Media Sync provides a another iTunes sync option. It syncs music, podcasts, playlists, photos, and videos, and can even sync automatically when you connect your phone in Media Sync mode, just like iTunes would do with an iPod. A paid version ($22) does faster syncs.
This is the newest entrant for iTunes sync. It’s not free ($19.95), but GoGadget for webOS does more than just sync to iTunes… it also allows you to create ringtones, converts video formats to play on your phone correctly, sync pictures to iPhoto, and sync documents. A free 7 day trial is available.
3) Try other sync programs!
Double Twist is probably one of the most widely-used music sync options for webOS users. Not only does it sync with iTunes, but you can also download music from the Amazon MP3 store, and convert videos to compatible formats. Also: no iTunes? No problem. Double Twist does direct native sync with your phone… no iTunes needed.
J. River Media Jukebox
Media Jukebox is the free component of J. River’s robust MediaCenter. It basically serves as a direct sync with pretty much any device. Anythingbutipod.com wrote a glowing review about this program here. Among one of the things they really liked about Media Jukebox was an excellent podcast library. I won’t go into other specifics, but I will say this program utilizes the Palm Pre’s impersonation of an iPod really well.
MediaMonkey is the favorite media handler and sync manager for many webOS users. In addition to direct sync with your Palm phone, it provides excellent music-tagging features and can find the album art to pretty much any music you own. The interface is slightly overwhelming at first, but if you work at it, you just might find it to be your favorite media organizer. Anythingbutipod.com wrote a review about and older version of MediaMonkey here, though much of what they say still applies.
One of the oldest media player/organizers to date, WinAmp has been my primary music handler for years. It sports a very easy-to-use interface and lots of fun plugins and skins. Up to now, its one weakness was good sync with MP3 players. Thankfully, this has been addressed and it syncs with the webOS devices. If you’re familiar with this program but left it because of sync problems in the past, perhaps you should give it another try.
This is the ONE media organizer I have not tried yet, but Songbird deserves some mention since its the favorite music handler of many people, especially those who like listening to podcasts. Sync with iPods and iPhones is sort of buggy, but it syncs with webOS phones juuuuust fine! 😉
That does it for music sync. Which method you choose is a matter of personal preference. I’ll get into which one is my favorite and why in a future article. Promise.
Well, our “Tips & Tricks Every webOS User Should Know” series has come to an end! I hope I helped you learn a few things about your webOS device.