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Palm Stereo Head Phone Audio Adapter Review

Palm Introduces New Treo & Centro Stereo Adapter

As any seasoned Treo or Centro owner will undoubtedly know a Stereo Headphone Adapter (which allows you to use the 2.5mm connector on your smarpthone with a standard 3.5mm headphone of your choice) is one of the three most essential accessories (see The Story of Two Essential Treo and Centro Accessories) that you can have in your kit – particularly if like me you happen to love listening to music while on the go with Pocket Tunes Deluxe and a 4GB or larger SD memory card.

Palm Stereo Headphone Adapter

For years Palm has only offered a short stereo adapter (pictured below left) which I personally didn’t like at all because it protruded from my smartphone and did not “bend” with my headphone cord.  The company has now released a new Palm Audio Adapter (pictured above) which finally copies the much more practical and convenient design long offered by my Editor’s Choice SPE Stereo Adapter (pictured below right on the left).

 Short Palm Stereo Headphone Adapter Palm Stereo Headphone Adapter Comparison

However the new Palm Audio Adapter falls quite short both on quality and value.  For starters, priced at $9.95 it is nearly twice the cost of the much better SPE Stereo Adapter.  Next, in terms of build quality the Palm Audio Adapter does not offer the same high-end gold plated connectors as the SPE Stereo Adapter (see below) and it also happens to have a thicker cable which makes it more difficult to bend naturally once connected to your headphones.

 Palm Stereo Headphone Adapter - Tip Palm Stereo Headphone Adapter - Connector

It should be fairly obvious that when a company attempts to charge a 100% premium for its products my expectations will rise accordingly.  In the case of this Palm Stereo Adapter however these higher expectations have simply not been met.

Palm Stereo Headphone Adapter - Plugged-In

Therefore, overall, while I’m naturally glad to see Palm finally release a better audio adapter the fact is nonetheless that it still doesn’t match the quality nor design of the much better existing and bestselling SPE Stereo Adapter which is priced at a much more reasonable $5.95 and benefits both from gold plated connectors and a thinner cable that makes it much easier to use with your headphones.

SPECIAL OFFER: Alongside the SPE Stereo Adapter, here is your perfect opportunity to get it alongside my other two “essential” and Editor’s Choice accessories for your Treo or Centro – the SPE Retractable Sync & Charge Cable and the SanDisk MobileMate SD+ Reader – at 20% Off.  Simply use the coupon code ESSENTIALS during Checkout.  (Offer valid until midnight PST on Wednesday, May 28).

Treonauts always have high expectations


Posted by Andrew on May 27, 2008 at 01:41 PM

Treo Headphone Adapter

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Comments

1
by Bruce Fry | May 27, 2008 4:07:54 PM

Palm Stereo Head Phone Audio Adapter:

How smart was that to put a 2.5mm in the thing in the first place?

2
by Kevin | May 27, 2008 5:14:55 PM

One may whish to note before bashing the Palm adapter, that it has the correct 4 conductor connector on the Treo end so it functions properly without making the Treo go throught the slow and sometimes ill performed process of reconfiguing it's "soft" audio jack. The minor detail of gold pins is nerely meaningless in this venue. I too agree the old adtapter is bad since it stresses the jack and people would break them and blame palm. I have been making my own soft dongle adapters for years.
The palm adapter is the correct adapter and is of fine quality.

K

3
by random9q | May 27, 2008 6:48:35 PM

@bruce:

Very smart, at least in Palm's case, since they got into the whole cellphone thing way after other manufacturers started standardizing on 2.5mm for wired headsets. It means one jack can accomodate two functions.

For their part, the cellphone manufacturers who standardized on 2.5mm so long ago did so because they wanted to differentiate it from the 3.5mm plug so that people would not "mistakenly" plug ordinary headphones and start trying to work them as if they were headsets. (Really, it had to do more with the fact that they wanted you to buy their headsets and not other standard headsets which used the 3.5mm jacks. But the former is more the standard reason.)

And this is the law of unintended engineering consequences in action. Now we have three classes of devices which are increasingly becomming almost identical: cellphones / PDAs / jukeboxes. Two use 3.5mm jacks for audio, one uses 2.5mm jacks for audio, each have standardized in their own right and have enough of a population of devices that it would be very confusing if one went against its own convention as a way of suggesting the standard be unified. (A smartphone with a 3.5mm jack? There would be an outcry! An MP3 player with a 2.5mm jack? Regarded as useless!) Meanwhile, there's next to no reason, from a consumer's perspective, why I should have to have an adapter for my headphones when using my Treo as a jukebox.

I'll part with this to ponder, though:

At least audio jacks aren't nearly so schismatic as power jacks are.

@Kevin:

Eh. Different tolerances for different preferences. I don't mind the delay so much as I mind shelling out extra money for an adapter on top of an adapter, and I kindof have to agree with Andrew: I resent paying more for cheaper materials, and it sounds like the Palm adapter is made from cheaper materials. But OEMs routinely charge more than third-party manufacturers when they make accessories. It's a way to make sure the accessories without stomping on those companies who depend on and indirectly support you. I seem to remember Palm being somewhat delicate in the past about how many features available in third party applications they internalized into the operating system, back in the days of yore when we had an upgrade from version 3.5 to version 4 and version 4 to version 5. Similar argument: don't completely force all the third-party developers to go out of business on your new iteration of OS. (That's about as bad or worse than showing no interest in developing the OS further for a few years at a time. Oops! Did I say that?)

At least you have the skill to make your own adapter to your liking! Admirable!

4
by John Whorfin | May 27, 2008 8:39:24 PM

Oooooo, an ADAPTER!

I don't think I can possibly contain my excitement.

I mean, seriously... it's... an ADAPTER!

My world is suddenly complete! All my problems are solved and I'LL NEVER DIE!!!

5
by random9q | May 28, 2008 6:58:16 AM

@John

Yeah, it's a slow day. Chill.

6
by Harold | May 28, 2008 10:51:29 AM

Makes more sense to get something like Shure's (or another manufacturer's) product which can convert conventional headphones or earphones into a telephone headset (including mike). That way you can use your 'good' headphones with your Treo. I have Shure e3c's which I use with my iPod which I can also now use with my Treo 755p, in case I need to be available when I'm otherwise listening to tunes.

H

7
by tom | May 28, 2008 11:14:49 AM

comparing the two adapters in the photos, I see that the Palm part has one more conductor on the mini plug compared to the SPE part. Any ideas why?

8
by tommy | May 28, 2008 5:19:44 PM

As mentioned above, the 4th conductor is for the microphone. This is how the adapter should have been designed in the first place. With this extra conductor, I'm sure you could plug in a 3.5mm mic unlike the SPE version. I guess it also explains the thicker cable, because there is the extra wire.

Personally, the SPE adapters were not so great in quality. I had to send one back and lost the other that didn't work.

I don't mind paying for a $9.95 version if it works correctly.

BTW, the gold plating is a gimmick. Unless the phone jack is gold plated too, what's the point. To improve conductivity or reduce corrosion? Not really.

It's a slow day for me too....enough over analyzing...

9
by Florence | May 29, 2008 9:22:08 PM

Anyone try this with a 700p yet and know if it is truly full stereo?

I bought a "Just Wireless" adapter from Best Buy that is only bi-mono. I hear the identical sound in both speakers. Most of my mp3s are oldies so I didn't notice the problem until it was too late to return. :-(

10
by BMoore | Jun 5, 2008 11:12:00 AM

Bruce, I could not agree more. I use one for music on my treo and it works, but I'm always losing it. Plus why do I need a "middle man"? They ought to give the things away since it is so hard to find any decent 2.5mm headphones. I also have an iTouch that is less than half the thickness of the treo and it has a 3.5mm jack so I can use my Shure earbuds.

Random, I'm sure you make some very good points in your extensive post, but I got lost in all the technology talk. For me it is the simple inconvenience of having to have an extra "thing" to worry about.

11
by Kevin | Jun 7, 2008 10:42:23 AM

Making power adapters standard would be great, Sprint has almost forced it on their line but not quite, the bad part is the power connector on the Treo is far superior to the common coaxial type found on most and the teen row of pins kind found commonly. I do agree in concept to not shutting out the third party and and quality materials for sure. But the gold has been a gimmick for a long time, I also work in professional Theatre and sound reinforcement and we have very few Gold pins on our cables and connectors.
The big standard difference is 2.5 mm is (was) for one ear piece and one microphone, 3.5mm is (was) for stereo earpieces no microphone, smartphones etc.. have had to compromise the standard. Thats ok too since we all want the function. Oh well, yup its an adapter... must me bored for 5 full minutes :-) I just think the third party should make it wired correctly, this becomes a real issue when switching between call and music, Treo has enough issues with being too slow to perform the function of a phone already.

12
by Florence | Jun 8, 2008 12:10:04 PM

Got my new Palm Stereo Head Phone Audio Adapter and it works in STEREOPHONIC sound! Fourth time's the charm!

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
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