Acer unveils palm-based PDA

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Acer unveils palm-based PDA By Sumner Lemon (IDG) — Acer has pulled the wraps off its S10 personal digital assistant, the first such device to be based on the Chinese version of the Palm OS. The Chinese version of the Palm OS was developed by Acer under an agreement with Palm that was announced in June. Under the terms of that agreement, Acer is to be the only company to offer devices that use the Chinese version of the OS for “many months,” says David Nagel, president and CEO of Palm’s Platform Solutions Group. Other companies have licensed the Chinese version of the Palm OS but they will not be allowed to ship their products until that period is over, he says, declining to reveal which companies had been granted licenses. The S10 includes Chinese-language versions of the Date Book, Address Book, To Do List, and Memo Pad applications that are standard with other versions of the Palm OS, as well as Chinese-English and English-Chinese dictionaries. The device also offers support for multiple Chinese text input methods, a trainable handwriting recognition engine, and suggests characters based on character and phrase associations. The Chinese version of Palm OS is able to run applications written for the English version. Acer and Palm have plans to jointly promote the development of additional Chinese-language applications for the OS, Nagel says, adding that the two companies plan to host a Greater China conference for Palm developers in the first half of next year. The S10 includes an audio recording function, an MP3 player, built-in microphone and speakers, and two Memory Stick expansion slots. Acer opted to use the Memory Stick rather than the Secure Digital format used by Palm because Memory Stick is better known among Asian users and offers support for a greater range of I/O expansion options, such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service Support), says Eric Lee, an Acer spokesperson. Acer has made changes to the text-input area of its Palm-based PDA compared with other devices running the OS. The S10 adds several additional soft keys for switching between English and Chinese text entry, accessing the dictionaries, switching between half-sized and full-sized Chinese characters, and shifting between multiple Chinese text input methods. Weighing in at 5 ounces, the S10 measures 4.7 by 3 by .5 inches. The S10 is based on Motorola’s 33-MHz DragonBall VZ processor and includes 16MB of SDRAM, a 16-bit gray-scale display, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The S10 is priced at $390.

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