Today Palm rolled out its Fall lineup of handhelds, which includes the Zire 21, a new and improved version of its best-selling entry-level handheld, and the Tungsten T3 and Tungsten E, two new members to its Tungsten line. These are expected to be the last devices released under the Palm name; Palm will switch to the palmOne name later this year, with devices bearing the new name expected next spring.
The Tungsten T3 is Palm’s first handheld that sports a 320×480 ultra-high resolution color display — and a virtual Graffiti area. And it can display text and images in landscape, as well as portrait mode — implemented with one-tap access. It measures 4.3 inches tall (when closed), 3.0 inches wide and 0.6 inches thick, and weighs 5.5 ounces. It runs on Palm OS version 5.2.1.
Coupled with its powerful 400MHz Intel XScale processor, 64MB of RAM (52MB of which is available for use), SDIO slot, and built-in Bluetooth wireless networking, and priced at $399 (Palm has dropped the price of the Tungsten T2 to $329), the Tungsten T3 is aimed at professionals who want a top-of-the-line device. (Read our review of the Palm Tungsten T3.)
The Tungsten E, on the other hand, is geared toward cost-conscious professionals who still want solid performance and a color display. Despite its $199 price tag, the Tungsten E comes with a 126MHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor, 32MB of RAM (28.3MB of which is available for use), an SDIO slot, and a color screen. It measures 4.5 inches tall, 3.1 inches wide and 0.5 inches thick, and weighs 4.6 ounces. It runs on Palm OS version 5.2.1. (Read our review of the Palm Tungsten E.)
The Zire 21 retains the breakthrough $99 price tag of the original Zire but has more memory, a faster processor, new software, and an improved display. Designed for first-time handheld buyers, the Zire 21 measures 4.4 inches tall, 2.9 inches wide and 0.6 inches thick, and weighs just 3.8 ounces. It runs on Palm OS version 5.2.1, and has a 126MHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor, 8MB RAM, a monochrome 4-bit grayscale display, and a rechargeable lithium ion polymer battery. (Read our review of the Palm Zire 21.)
Both Tungsten models are capable of displaying JPEG photos and playing MP3 files and video clips. The Tungsten T3 can also record voice notes.
Palm revamps core apps
In addition to the new hardware, Palm has revamped its core personal information management (PIM) applications and included IBM’s WebSphere Micro Environment (WME), a Java (J2ME) software runtime, with its Tungsten handhelds.
There are now two versions of the PIM suite: Standard and Enhanced. The Standard version comes with Address Book, Date Book, and To Do List. However, Palm has seen fit to change the names to Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks in the Enhanced version, an obvious effort to mirror Microsoft Outlook.
The Zire 21 comes with the Standard version while the Tungsten E and T3 come with the Enhanced version.
The changes to the PIM suite address several long-time issues, like size limits on memos and notes and multiple addresses for contacts. But they also include a number of new improvements to scheduling, alarms and beaming appointments, greater compatibility with Outlook, and a new Agenda view that resembles Pocket PC’s Today screen. There’s also a new Status bar that provides easy one-tap access to key features.
Expanding the Palm handheld family
These new devices complete a two-year transformation of Palm’s product family, from simple organizers to handheld computers based on leading-edge technologies. With products covering many price ranges and addressing the needs of different consumer segments, Palm appears well-positioned to defend its place as the market leader.