Palm broadens Tungsten PDA range

Palm is unveiling three personal digital assistants today, adding two new Tungsten devices and a Zire device to its lineup.

Palm is unveiling three personal digital assistants today, adding two new Tungsten devices and a Zire device to its lineup.

Both the Tungsten brand, aimed at business customers, and Zire, aimed at consumers, were introduced last year.

The Tungsten T3, which comes with a 400MHz PXA255 XScale processor from Intel and 64Mbytes of Ram, 52Mbytes of which are accessible by the user, will cost $399.

Palm based the T3 on the slider design of the older Tungsten T models. When open, the sliding case exposes more of the 320-pixel-by- 480-pixel transflective screen than is visible with the case closed.

On the older models, this exposed area was devoted to text input using Palm's Graffiti language, but the T3 allows the user to choose between either entering data or displaying images in that space.

Bluetooth is built into the T3, which users can employ to connect to the internet through Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, or to synchronise data with their desktop or notebook PCs.

A Secure Digital slot is included in the T3 to add 802.11 or GSM/GPRS capabilities. The SDIO and multimedia card expansion formats are also supported.

The $199 Tungsten E is designed for cost-conscious professionals. It uses a 126MHz OMAP processor from Texas Instruments which is less expensive than the XScale processor but still delivers enough performance for basic PDA applications.

Palm built 32Mbytes of Ram into the Tungsten E, 28.3Mbytes of which can be accessed by the user. The 320-pixel-by-320-pixel display comes with an area for entering Graffiti text, unlike the T3, but the Tungsten E supports the same expansion card slots as the T3.

Both Tungsten PDAs run Palm OS 5.2.1, the latest version of PalmSource's operating system.

Palm also made some much-needed improvements to the $99 Zire 21 handheld, adding the latest version of its Palm OS operating system and more storage.

The Zire 21 maintains a black-and-white screen, and uses the same 126MHz OMAP processor as found in the Tungsten E.

The system memory has been increased to 8Mbytes of Ram from 2Mbytes.

Shareholders of the company will vote later this month on the plan to merge Palm with smartphone company Handspring, and spin off PalmSource as an independent company.

Palm is preparing for a future of connected PDAs by adding the Treo smartphone and development team to its assets. The deal is expected to be approved, and the new company will be known as PalmOne.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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