What Does Palm Have Up Its Sleeve for this Fall?

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Because companies need to get new models on the shelves for the holiday shopping season, fall is always one of the liveliest times of the year for handheld releases.

By all indications, Palm, Inc. is going to have a busy season, as it is almost certain to release at least one new high-end handheld, and several more devices look at least plausible.

Tungsten XX

Update: Some additional information on this handheld can be found in this article.

Early this summer, the first rumors surfaced of a model with the codename Tungsten XX.

Tungsten XX Supposedly, this will be similar to the Tungsten T5 in many respects. Both models will have 320-by-480-pixel displays and the same general form factor (see possible picture at right).

However, unlike its predecessor, the Tungsten XX will have built-in WiFi and its Bluetooth capabilities will be updated to version 1.2.

Rumors also indicate that the upcoming model will run a slower processor than the current one: 312 MHz vs. 416 MHz. As WiFi is a notorious drain on a handheld’s battery, the reduction in processor speed may have been done to increase the Tungsten XX’s battery life.

An unnamed source recently told Palm Infocenter that this device will have 128 MB of NVFS (non-volatile) memory.

The rumored price for this device is $300, and it is likely to debut in October, when Palm traditional introduces new models.

LifeDrive 2

While many people consider a fall release for the next-generation Tungsten a virtual certainty, an upgrade for the LifeDrive at this same time is much more chancy.

Still, while Palm usually waits a full year before releasing new versions of its handhelds, this is really what you’d call more of a guideline than an actual rule. Palm released the first three members of the Tungsten T series within a 12 month period. So it isn’t impossible that the LifeDrive 2 could be released this fall.

6 GB Microdrive On top of this, there has been some evidence to suggest that a new mobile manager may be coming soon than many people think.

In June, the Spanish branch of Hitachi, the maker of the 4 GB Microdrive in the LifeDrive, let slip that a future Palm device would have a 6 GB microdrive in it.

This raises the possibility of a new LifeDrive in the near future.

Hitachi’s next generation of microdrives, which will be 20 percent smaller than the current models and will have 8 GB to 10 GB of Storage capacity, will be out early next year.

It seems a bit unlikely that Palm would release a mobile manager with a 6 GB hard drive late next spring if a higher-capacity, smaller drive would be available well before then.

Even if Palm doesn’t, though, it is expected to put out before the end of this year a software update that will fix many of the bugs in the original version of the LifeDrive.

Zire 22

Update: Some additional information on this handheld can be found in this article.

While these first two devices have been discussed quite a bit, a recent arrival is the Zire 22.

Palm Infocenter reports being told by an anonymous source that this model is listed in the inventory system of a large electronics retailer.

Supposedly, this will be a budget handheld with minimal features It will have a 160-by-160-pixel color screen and 32 MB of RAM. It will not include an SD slot.

If this information is correct, then the Zire 22 will be significant for one thing: it will be the first Palm or Pocket PC with a color screen to debut at $100 or less.

Zire 73

A few stubborn retailers still haven’t removed from their web sites listings for the Zire 73 that were first added early last spring.

While past experience suggests that, at some point, Palm will release an upgraded version of the Zire 72, there has been no evidence that this is going to happen any time soon.

In fact, at one point a Palm executive assured Brighthand that there’s no truth whatsoever to the rumors of the Zire 73.

Windows Mobile Treo

So far this year, there has been a tremendous uproar over whether Palm is going to release a smartphone running — not the Palm OS — but Windows Mobile.

At various times, this has taken the form of rumors, speculation, leaked pictures, obvious hoaxes, endless debate, and arguments that have almost escalated to fistfights.

Still, if this is going to happen, it doesn’t seem likely to happen this fall. The most credible rumors indicate that the Windows Mobile Treo will debut during the first quarter of next year. Of course, that’s assuming it exists at all.

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