palmOne has announced the Tungsten T5, the company’s first handheld to have 256 MB of built-in memory. This model will have some innovative features, including the ability to appear as a removable drive on any computer. However, this model will lack some of the features long-time Palm OS users have been hoping it would have.
The way this model will handle its 256 MB of built-in memory will be its most distinctive feature.
Of this, 55 MB will act the same way a Palm OS handheld’s internal memory always has. It can be used to store applications and files. However, only certain kinds of files can be placed here.
But the T5 won’t stop there. It will include 160 MB of memory that will act sort of like an internal SD card. Any kind of files can be stored here, even ones that the T5 can’t work with.
What’s most unique about the Tungsten T5 is it can be plugged into the USB port on almost any computer and the 160 MB segment of memory will appear on the computer as a removable drive. The Palm Desktop software doesn’t have to be installed on the computer. What’s more, if an SD card is inserted into the T5, it will also appear as a removable drive.
This feature, which is called Drive Mode, will allow T5 owners to use their handheld as way to easily carry around files of any kind. For example, someone who needs a collection of files with him on a business trip could copy them onto his T5, then copy them onto any desktop or laptop when he arrived at his destination.
Even better, this handheld will come with DataViz Documents To Go 7.0, so users can access and edit those files while on the go. With this application, users can view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. They can edit Word and Excel documents, but not PowerPoint presentations.
Tungsten T5 users won’t need to worry about losing their data if they accidentally let their handhelds’ batteries drain completely. palmOne is going to use a type of memory that holds information without a charge or power, just like a memory card saves pictures when not connected to a digital camera. The flash memory in the T5 will maintain its data, even when the power is exhausted. Simply charge the handheld again and the data is there.
To let users access the contents of the internal flash drive and SD cards, the T5 will come with an application that acts as a file browser.
Physically, the Tungsten T5 will be a combination of two previous palmOne models. It will greatly resemble the Tungsten E, while having many of the features of the Tungsten T3.
This is the first of its series to lack the slider that was the hallmark of previous Tungsten T series models. Instead, it uses a standard tablet design.
palmOne decided to make the T5 resemble the Tungsten E because that model has been the company’s best-selling model since its inception. The Tungsten E alone accounted for 21 percent of palmOne’s sales last quarter.
Its plastic body will be 4.76 inches tall, 3.1 inches wide, and 0.6 inches thick (121 mm by 79 mm by 15 mm). The T5 will weigh 5.1 ounces (145 g).
On its top will be an SD/MMC memory card slot and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
End of the Universal Connector
One feature that will irritate some long-time palmOne users is the HotSync port on the T5’s bottom. palmOne has officially abandoned the Universal Connector it has been using for over three years, and this will appear on no more palmOne devices.
The new HotSync port, now called the Multi-connector, acts as both a way to connect the T5 to its cradle and a place to plug the USB cable into when connecting it to another computer to transfer files to and from the internal flash drive.
The Multi-connector also allows for audio out. palmOne is going to offer a cradle into which speakers can be plugged, allowing the T5 to function as the heart of a room’s stereo system.
Speaking of cradles, the only way to get a Tungsten T5 cradle is to buy one separately. This handheld doesn’t come with one, just a HotSync cable.
The T5 can be trickle charged from a computer’s USB port through the Multi-connector.
The Multi-connector will be a part of future devices from palmOne. It will definitely appear on the next-generation Treo.
No Cobalt Here
What is going to disappoint many people is the fact that the Tungsten T5 does not run Palm OS Cobalt, the latest version of the Palm OS.
According to a palmOne spokesperson, there were several reasons for this. For one, developing a new handheld takes a long time, and palmOne was well along in the creation of the T5 before PalmSource finished up work on Cobalt.
Also, palmOne feels that it could incorporate all the features it wanted to into the T5 without Cobalt, and so decided that the new operating system wasn’t necessary on this model.
That’s why the T5 runs Palm OS Garnet on a 416 MHz Intel XScale processor. This is one of the new PXA270 processor, but not the fastest one available.
Surely to the disappointment of some, this model doesn’t include built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking, as so many of its competitors do. However, there is some good news: this device will be able to use palmOne’s Wi-Fi SD card.
Like all of this company’s high-end models, the T5 will have Bluetooth short-range wireless networking. This will allow users to connect to the Internet through a Bluetooth-enabled wireless phone.
Once connected, T5 owners will be able to use the web browser and email application that come with this handheld.
The T5 isn’t going to be as multimedia oriented as some palmOne models, but it can play both audio and video.
It will include a version of RealPlayer that will allow users to play music purchased from the RealPlayer Music Store. Of course, the desktop version of this application must be installed. This application will also be able to play MP3 files transfered to it from a desktop or laptop.
palmOne Media is an application that can display photos and video. However, video files must be run through a converter on the user’s desktop computer before they can be played on the T5.
Unlike most high-end handhelds (and its predecessors) the Tungsten T5 won’t have a built-in microphone, and therefore it can’t be used as a voice recorder. This is a bit surprising in a model so obviously aimed at business users.
The T5 has a 1300 mAh battery, significantly larger than the one in the Tungsten T3, which was only 900 mAh. This should allow the T5 to last substantially longer on a single charge.
Unfortunately, this battery isn’t swappable, and because palmOne changed to the Multi-connector, the T5 can’t use the Palm Power To Go external battery pack.
Pricing and Availability
The Tungsten T5 will have a suggested price of $399, the same price the Tungsten T2 and T3 debuted at.
Despite today’s announcement, the T5 won’t be available until November 3, almost a month from now.
Normally, pre-announcing a new handheld has a severe negative impact on sales of the model being replaced. To help combat this, palmOne has dropped the official price of the Tungsten T3 by $50, to $349.
Brighthand will publish a review of the Tungsten T5 before this handheld hits the market.