October 2002

Palm introduces Tungsten devices
Palm Inc. introduced their new high-end next-generation handhelds, one of which is available for purchase now. The first device runs Palm OS 5 and uses a 144 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP1510 processor. Called the Tungsten T, it is available for purchase today. It has a smaller footprint than any other Palm OS device, due to its slide-open design. Using the new navigation disk, users can access many programs without using the Graffiti area, though that remains a quick pull away with the new design. Pulling the device open turns it on, by default, and it can be made to shut off when closed. Bluetooth is built in, and Palm has made strides in making Bluetooth setup and use far easier than the first SD card version of their software. Palm and Sony Ericsson worked together to make setting up a relationship between the Tungsten T and a T68i fairly easy. With Bluetooth built in, the SD slot is once again open for storage and peripheral expansion. Voice recording is also built in, with a side-mounted button for quick access. With a 128MB card, one can record more than 450 minutes of audio. Compatibility with older databases is good, and most OS 4 programs should run well, since the entire operating system is written to make the ARM-compatible OMAP processor emulate a 68000 processor. Performance is snappy, faster than we've seen with the Palm OS. Weight is 5.5 ounces, and the unit comes with16MB RAM (14MB actual storage capacity). The screen is good, and the interface sports all new icons for the incredible 320 x 320 resolution screen. The device also has four fonts instead of three, all of which display smoothly on the high res screen. Our preliminary opinion is that the Tungsten T is a compelling upgrade; in most ways it's the first big leap for the Palm platform, since most past offerings from the company have been more evolutionary. US$499.

Also announced but not released was the Tungsten W handheld, a wireless device that will replace the Palm i705. GPRS-based, it is primarily billed as a data device that can also make phone calls. Unlike the Graffiti-based Tungsten T, the W has a keyboard, but it also employs the new "5-way" navigation disc. This device, however, does not run Palm OS 5, because it has a 33MHz Dragonball processor. Instead it runs Palm OS 4.1.1. It does feature a Texas Instruments TCS2100 baseband processor for advanced GSM/GPRS performance. Palm says the device, as a result, offers one of the fastest data-transfer rates available over GPRS. It includes Palm's VersaMail application (as does the Tungsten T) for email access, and also offers Web browsing and SMS software applications. Though it doesn't have the powerful processor of the T, the W does have the 320 x 320 color screen with the same look and feel as the T. The phone is only accessible using the headset attachment, there is no mic or speaker on the device. Users can make a call while accessing programs on the device, including the sending of SMS messages. The GPRS radio is tri-band, enabling easy international travel.

The Tungsten W will be available in the first quarter of 2003 for US$549. Both the Tungsten T and Tungsten W use the same Universal connector that all recent Palm-branded products have used, so many peripherals will be compatible, as will the cradles. At left is the slim keyboard also announced today, designed by the same folks who made the Stowaway Keyboard. www.palm.com
-- Posted Monday, October 28, 2002 by sab

RIM unveils new voice-enabled GSM pagers
Research In Motion today unveiled their BlackBerry 6710 and 6720 pagers for GSM/GPRS networks. Both offer voice and data services, including email, phone, SMS, browser, and organizer applications. The 6710, with its 900/1900 MHz dual band radio will work in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, while the 6720 will work in Europe and Asia with its 900/1800MHz dual band radio. Both devices employ the Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) for running applications. They weigh 4.86 ounces and measure 4.76 x 2.99 x 0.70 inches. Both the screen and keyboard are backlit. Pricing was not announced. The company instead said that both pricing and availability, plus airtime rates, will be available from carriers selling the device. -- Posted Wednesday, October 16, 2002 by sab

Sony invests in PalmSource
PalmSource, the soon-to-be-independent software arm of Palm, Inc. has announced that it has received a US$20 million minority equity investment by Sony Corporation. Sony, a licensee of the Palm OS used in their CLIE line of handheld products, will own around six percent of PalmSource. "We are delighted that Sony has chosen Palm OS as the platform for its handheld computing products and look forward to continued innovation and leadership resulting from this relationship," said David Nagel, President and CEO of PalmSource, Inc. -- Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2002 by sab

Palm launches first product in Zire line
In a move to both return to its roots and differentiate product lines, Palm Inc. today launched the first product in its new Zire family of handheld computers. Aimed directly at the first time buyer, the Zire is simple and light weight; lighter, in fact, than any Palm OS product to date at 3.8 ounces. Unlike previous products which were shipped in boxes 10 to 20 times the size of the device itself, the Zire is packaged in a hanging or free-standing blister pack, designed for store shelves. With 2MB RAM, a monochrome display, a 16MHz Dragonball processor and a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, it's equipped to handle basic data tasks with as much aplomb as the Palm III, but with slightly better-thought-out integration. While it will be a step back for many current Palm users, it will offer plenty of power for someone just seeking to manage their schedule. Zire is not the only product family announced last week, however. Zire will be the consumer line and Tungsten will be for the business user. No Tungsten products have been announced. US$99. -- Posted Monday, October 7, 2002 by sab

Sony announces first Palm OS 5 device: NX70V
Sony's new NX70V really revs up the popular swivel-screen CLIE, taking it from a 66MHz SuperVZ to a 200MHz ARM processor. The new device runs Palm OS 5, slightly modified to make it a Sony original. The new application launcher is none other than stunning, operating with either the jog dial or stylus. When used with the jog dial, applications scroll smoothly up or down the screen. Unlike the NR series, the virtual Graffiti area can be moved out of the way in more programs, including the application launcher. The NX70V also comes with an improved digital camera, capturing 640 x 480 stills, as well as full-motion video. Along with the built-in MP3 player, the new CLIE finally includes voice recording as well, with the ability to capture up to 535 minutes (8.91 hours) of audio on a 128MB Memory Stick at 8KHz sampling frequency. Voice recordings can be programmed as alarms, so your sweetheart's voice can awaken you on while you're traveling (or something less corny).

The only major physical modification was necessary to add 802.11b wireless to the device. A large port was added to the mold, allowing an optional CF-sized Wi-Fi card to be inserted on the back. Sony is quick to point out that this is not an actual CF slot, and makes no assertion that it might become one in the future. The Memory Stick remains the external storage standard for the CLIE line. They've also included a new browser, which is able to view most Web pages full screen. Combined with the 802.11b connection, the browsing experience is impressive. CLIE Mail can send and receive images, voice, and even movies generated on the device. The NX70V comes in a new robotic-looking gunmetal gray or the older champagne. Both have a magnesium body. With all that power, the NX70V only has 16MB RAM. Users will have to rely on the Memory Stick for many purposes, but thankfully that's a pretty fast interface, and they include the CLIE Files application for quick swapping between card and RAM. Suggested retail will be US$599. Optional accessories: CLIE Wireless LAN Card, US$149.99, CLIE
Speaker Cradle (for music, voice playback), US$99.99. The product is available for preorder on the SonyStyle website, and is
expected to ship in early November, according to company representatives.
-- Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2002 by sab