February 2003

Microsoft's Mobile Predicament
While Microsoft posted a staggering US$5.3 billion profit on sales of US$16.3 billion for the second half of 2002, the financial results of the "CE/Mobility" business were dismal: sales of US$380 million and a loss of US$72 million. No big deal for a company that has stashed away over $US43 billion in cash, but probably not what anyone expected in Microsoft's sixth year in the mobile business. Sometimes we wonder if anyone in Redmond is reading Pen Computing's frequent editorials and suggestions on how to do better in the mobile space... -- Posted Monday, February 24, 2003 by chb

Palm announces Tungsten W available with AT&T
Palm SG today announces that its Tungsten W handheld will be made available with AT&T GSM/GPRS service on February 28. This is according to an earlier release and may change; the actual date of this announcement has moved a few times, but leaks have, as usual, abounded (when we get the official release, sometime tomorrow, we'll update this story accordingly). The Tungsten W has already been announced, as has Palm's partnership with AT&T, but now we have tentative monthly data plan pricing, ranging from US$29.99 for 10MB to US$99.99 for 100MB. But because the Tungsten W can also be used as a phone, they've created an 8MB plan for US$19.99 that also requires users subscribe to a voice plan, which start at US$19.99.

Because the date of this announcement has bounced around, we've had to postpone our usual comprehensive review, expecting to post it early next week. But the summary is that though Palm has intended this device as a data-only device, it makes a pretty good phone, if you're okay with using a wired headset with your phone. In fact, our experience indicates that this may be among the better car phone solutions when mounted in a secure holder. A few upcoming products might make the Tungsten W an indispensable communications companion, like the car charger/speaker phone cradle from Revolve Design, and the microphone adapter from Ternary technologies that doubles as the screen cover (this cover is expected to be available as an accessory from Palm in April for US$39.95).

As a data device, it's pretty impressive. There may be a few bugs to work out regarding the simple act of sending email, which I'll detail in my review, but overall it's a surprisingly mature product offering. That it shares the Tungsten T's 320 x 320, 64K color screen means it has a fantastic display. It also uses a MediaQ processor to help speed graphics. Still, it uses a 33MHz Dragonball VZ, so it's not as speedy as the 144MHz OMAP-based T. Users will have quite a decision to make. We look forward to finishing up our review as soon as possible so you can get a better idea of whether you're going to want to place an advance order on one of the following sites: http://www.compusa.com http://www.franklincovey.com http://www.amazon.com http://www.cdw.com http://www.jandr.com http://www.officedepot.com http://www.microwarehouse.com http://www.staples.com and more. Pricing may be relative to the plan purchased from AT&T, but Palm's SRP is US$549.
-- Posted Thursday, February 20, 2003 by sab

NEC announces 2.2 pound Tablet PC
NEC has announced their Versa LitePad Tablet PC, weighing in at 2.2 pounds and 0.6 inches thick. While thin, it's a little bigger than a sheet of paper, at 8.8 by 11.7 inches. The display is 10.4 inch XGA, and the processor is the Intel Ultra-Low-Voltage Mobile Pentium III running at 933MHz. It has 256MB RAM and a 20GB HDD. Both 802.11a and b are included. It comes with several applications bundled: Alias/Wavefront SketchBook Pro, Colligo Networks Personal Edition, Corel Grafigo, Franklin Covey Tablet Planner, and the Zinio Reader. It will be available in March via CDW, Amazon, and PC Connection, with prices starting at US$2,399. -- Posted Wednesday, February 19, 2003 by sab

Sony announces SJ33 handheld
Sony has taken all they've learned over the past few years of making Palm OS handhelds, and produced a fine device in the SJ33. Its small, rounded, lightweight body conceals the power of a Dragonball Super VZ running at 66MHz, quite fast for an OS 4.1 device. The 320 x 320 screen is nice as any other fine Sony device, and the new integrated flip cover is dark translucent plastic that curves like the back of the device, for comfortable fit in a pocket. The flip lid is integrated into the design, and as such it's really not optional. It can be removed, but it looks incomplete. The hold slider has been integrated into the power switch as seen on the new Sony NZ90, though it appears on the left side. Supporting MP3, video playback, Memory Stick storage, and all the other fun features of its predecessor, it nicely embodies what users have come to expect from the Sony CLIE name without the high cost. It may be my favorite expression of CLIE to date. 16MB RAM, headphones, charger, HotSync cable, Li-ion rechargeable, included; cradle and Memory Stick optional. US$299.99 Available for order now at http://www.sonystyle.com/clie/ -- Posted Monday, February 17, 2003 by sab

Preview: PDA or Camera? Sony's new NZ90
Sony's NZ90 is quite an amazing achievement, integrating their hot 200MHz Palm OS-based PDA and its incredible interface with a 2.0 megapixel digital camera that can capture stills or video; it even has a flash. The possibilities are exciting. Come see our preview of this US$799 multimedia powerhouse. -- Posted Monday, February 17, 2003 by sab

Digitizer patch released for Tungsten T
Palm Solutions Group (SG) has posted a patch to fix a problem with the Tungsten T digitizers. The problem made taps on the top part of the screen register inconsistently. The update, a .prc file, is available at: http://www.palm.com/support/downloads/tungstent_digitizer.html (Thanks to Toby for the tip posted in the AeroPlayer Yahoo! group.) A T here at the office that had the problem is registering all taps quite nicely now.
-- Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2003 by sab

Texas Instruments announces new OMAPs
Currently used in Palm?s Tungsten T, the ARM-based OMAP processor is getting an upgrade soon. The new chips will include on-chip security, and better graphics, multimedia, and Java support, while maintaining software compatibility. According to the company, applications with 2D graphics will run up to 2.5 times faster, and Java applications will run 8 times faster than current OMAP chips. The chip?s Multimedia Instruction Set Architecture also give faster performance (1.7X) for audio applications. A new "deep sleep" feature consumes 10X less power than previous processors as well, less than 10 microamperes. One of the new processors in particular, the OMAP1612, includes 256MB stacked, ultra-low-power mobile double data rate DDR SDRAM. The OMAP 73X series integrates a GSM/GPRS processor and 802.11g hooks for 54Mbps WLAN. http://www.ti.com -- Posted Saturday, February 8, 2003 by sab

AvantGo ships Mobile Sales Software
AvantGo, which last month was acquired by Sybase, has released its Mobile Sales solution, "a significantly enhanced version of its mobile application built to help executives accelerate the adoption of existing customer relationship management and sales force automation," according to the company. AvantGo has an adapter to allow integration with Siebel 6 and 7. http://www.avantgo.com -- Posted Saturday, February 8, 2003 by sab

Palm reduces prices on three handhelds
Palm, Inc. reduced prices on its three key handhelds. The Palm m130 went from US$249 to US$199; the m515 went from US$329 to US$299, and the Tungsten T went from US$499 to US$399. All three devices are color, use the Palm Universal connector, and support SD and SDIO expansion. According to the release, "The Palm Solutions Group believes this pricing action will infuse new energy and attract new users into the Palm-branded handheld business in 2003." http://www.palm.com -- Posted Saturday, February 8, 2003 by sab