Palm unveils new handhelds

SAN FRANCISCO (10/01/2003) - Palm Inc. this week will unveil two additions to its Tungsten handheld lineup as well as a replacement device for its US$99 Zire.

Among the significant changes in the business-oriented Tungsten line is a lower cost model -- the Tungsten E is priced at $199 -- and the new $399 Tungsten T3, which offers a high resolution, 320-by-480-pixel screen with a 50% increase in viewable area.

Other additions to the hardware on the T3 include built-in Bluetooth with a wizard that automates the setup of the handheld to operate with almost all major cell phone models that also include Bluetooth. The screen can also be viewed in both portrait and landscape mode.

"On a Pocket PC you can view 17 rows of data, on aTungsten [T3] you can do 29 rows before it gets too small," said Anthony Armenta, product line manager for Palm.

The T3 uses an Intel XScale processor and has 64MB of memory. The Tungsten E uses a Texas Instruments Inc.'s OMAP 311 ARM processor and has 32MB of RAM. The Zire 21 also includes an ARM processor and has 8MB of memory. That device is now slightly thinner and 0.1 ounce lighter.

On the software side, both Tungsten models will feature updated PIMs with the addition of fields for Instant Message addresses and Web site uniform resources locators. In all there are nine customizable fields, three addresses spaces, plus phone and e-mail.

Memos and notes, previously limited to 4 kilobytes (KB), can now be up to 32KB in size. All the new capabilities can synchronize with Palm desktop and Outlook.

For enterprise users, Palm now integrates with both IBM Corp.'s WebSphere Micro Environment and a Java software run time, known as J2ME (Java Micro Edition).

"If you are a corporate developer and use WebSphere tools on the server side, you can extend it out to mobile," Armenta said.

For Java developers using Sun Microsystems Inc.'s JAR file format, Palm's PRC file format will read and execute applications using JAR.

Despite the many new additions, one industry analyst believes Palm is still lacking a key driver to corporate adoption.

"Their most attractive products, the T series, have the most challenged user input. The days of Graffiti alternatives to a real keyboard are numbered as more and more handhelds have integrated keyboards," said David Hayden, principal, at MobileWeek in Palo Alto, California.

The T3 and Tungsten E both now have support for native Word and Excel file formats so that formatting and tables are preserved. E-mail attachment sizes have been increased from 1.4MB to 5MB.

All models are available now.

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