Palm Launches Tungsten Handhelds

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Today Palm Inc. officially announced two new high-end handhelds, the Tungsten T and the Tungsten W. They are the first models in the company’s line for enterprise users and road warriors.

Tungsten T

While this model has the general shape that handhelds have had since the original Pilot, Palm has taken it in a new direction. The bottom part of the Tungsten T slides to alternately hide or expose the Graffiti area. This allows the handheld to be just 4 inches tall when not is use or the user is looking something up, and then expanded to allow text to be entered.

Tungsten T While this may seem inconvenient to some, Palm did a study that showed that 90% of the time people are using their handhelds they are looking up information that has already been entered, compared to just 10% of the time spent entering text.

When compressed, the T is 4 by 3 by .6 inches. It is 4.8 inches tall when expanded. It weighs 5.6 ounces.

This is the first model from any Palm OS licensee to offer built-in Bluetooth. This is a short-range wireless networking technology and the Tungsten T can use it to automatically dial a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone and even use the phone as a modem to connect to the Internet.

It is the first handheld from Palm to use a 320 by 320 pixel screen, capable of displaying 65,536 colors.

Underneath the screen is are the standard four application launching buttons plus a D-pad. Palm has added support for the D-pad to the standard application buttons, which means the user can perform many common tasks, like look up a phone number, with just the D-pad and one finger.

The Tungsten T is the first model from Palm to run Palm OS 5. This allows it to use a 144MHz Texas Instruments’ OMAP1510 processor.

It comes with a built-in voice recorder and there is a headphone jack on the left side. The Tungsten T does not come with applications for MP3 or video playback. However, Kinoma will soon release a version of its movie player that supports this device and MP3 players for it will doubtless be released in the near future by third party developers.

It includes an SD/MMC memory expansion slot slot that supports SDIO, and uses the Palm Universal Connector, which means it can use many peripherals that are already available, like keyboards and cradles.

The T comes with a copy of Palm’s new email app, Palm VersaMail, plus DataViz Documents To Go and other applications.

The Tungsten T is available now for $499 from the Palm Store.

More details of the Tungsten T are included in Steve Bush’s review.

Tungsten W

Palm has also announced a new model which offers integrated GSM/GPRS wireless networking and a built-in keyboard. The Tungsten W also has the same 320 by 320 pixel screen the T does.

Tungsten W The W is a data-centric wireless handheld, which means that while it can make phone calls, its primary use is for wireless networking. It uses a Class 10 GSM/GPRS wireless radio powered by TI’s TCS2100 baseband processor, which offers one of the fastest data-transfer rates available. It is a tri-band device and therefore can be used almost anywhere in the world.

Tungsten W does not have an integrated speaker and microphone like a mobile phone; instead, it comes with a a plug-in headset. It has a new application to allow it to make phone calls, plus users can automatically dial phone numbers from the Address Book. It supports many phone services like speed dialing, caller ID, call forwarding, 5-way conference calling, and more. Its 1500 mAh lithium ion battery provides up to 10 hours of talk time.

Naturally, one of the major uses for this device is email and it ships with Palm VersaMail, the company’s new personal email software. This app can download and view the text of Microsoft Word documents and HTML email attachments. It also includes advanced folder and filtering capabilities, the flexibility to delete many messages at one time, and easy access to common tasks such as forwarding email and moving messages. Windows PC synchronization support allows automatic conversion of most Microsoft Office documents using DataViz Documents To Go. Users can synchronize email with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Notes 5.0, and Eudora.

The W includes a 320 by 320 pixel color screen that can display 65,536 colors. Under the screen is a small keyboard to make writing email and SMS messages easier. It also has the same D-pad the Tungsten T uses. The whole handheld is 5.4 by 3.0 by .65 inches, including the antenna, and weighs 6.4 ounces.

It runs Palm OS 4.1.1 on a Motorola Dragonball VZ 33 MHz processor and includes 16 MB of RAM.

It has an SD/MMC slot which allows it to use postage-stamp-sized memory cards and other peripherals. Like the Tungsten T and most of the company’s other models, uses the Palm Universal Connector, which means the W doesn’t have to wait for new clip-on peripherals to be released.

The Tungsten W will be available in the U.S. in the first quarter of next year. The price will depend on the wireless carrier offering it but it will be $549 without a carrier subsidy.

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