Palm introduces Tungsten devices
Palm Inc. introduced their new high-end next-generation handhelds, one of which is available for purchase now. The first device runs Palm OS 5 and uses a 174 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP1510 processor. Called the Tungsten T, it is available for purchase today. It has a smaller footprint than any other Palm OS device, due to its slide-open design. Using the new navigation disk, users can access many programs without using the Graffiti area, though that remains a quick pull away with the new design. Pulling the device open turns it on, by default, and it can be made to shut off when closed. Bluetooth is built in, and Palm has made strides in making Bluetooth setup and use far easier than the first SD card version of their software. Palm and Sony Ericsson worked together to make setting up a relationship between the Tungsten T and a T68i fairly easy. With Bluetooth built in, the SD slot is once again open for storage and peripheral expansion. Voice recording is also built in, with a side-mounted button for quick access. With a 128MB card, one can record more than 450 minutes of audio. Compatibility with older databases is good, and most OS 4 programs should run well, since the entire operating system is written to make the ARM-compatible OMAP processor emulate a 68000 processor. Performance is snappy, faster than we've seen with the Palm OS. Weight is 5.5 ounces, and the unit comes with16MB RAM (14MB actual storage capacity). The screen is good, and the interface sports all new icons for the incredible 320 x 320 resolution screen. The device also has four fonts instead of three, all of which display smoothly on the high res screen. Our preliminary opinion is that the Tungsten T is a compelling upgrade; in most ways it's the first big leap for the Palm platform, since most past offerings from the company have been more evolutionary. US$499.
Also announced but not released was the Tungsten W handheld, a wireless device that will replace the Palm i705. GPRS-based, it is primarily billed as a data device that can also make phone calls. Unlike the Graffiti-based Tungsten T, the W has a keyboard, but it also employs the new "5-way" navigation disc. This device, however, does not run Palm OS 5, because it has a 33MHz Dragonball processor. Instead it runs Palm OS 4.1.1. It does feature a Texas Instruments TCS2100 baseband processor for advanced GSM/GPRS performance. Palm says the device, as a result, offers one of the fastest data-transfer rates available over GPRS. It includes Palm's VersaMail application (as does the Tungsten T) for email access, and also offers Web browsing and SMS software applications. Though it doesn't have the powerful processor of the T, the W does have the 320 x 320 color screen with the same look and feel as the T. The phone is only accessible using the headset attachment, there is no mic or speaker on the device. Users can make a call while accessing programs on the device, including the sending of SMS messages. The GPRS radio is tri-band, enabling easy international travel.
The Tungsten W will be available in the first quarter of 2003 for US$549. Both the Tungsten T and Tungsten W use the same Universal connector that all recent Palm-branded products have used, so many peripherals will be compatible, as will the cradles.