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Apple Newton tech to power next Palm?

Device codenamed Calvin offers true handwriting recognition, apparently

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Has Apple's Newton technology finally made it to the Palm world? That's certainly one interpretation of a series of alleged leaks from the handheld computing company about an upcoming low-end device.

According to information sent to PDA Geek, Palm is working on a device codenamed 'Calvin' - after, we assume, the well-known purveyor of designer pongs and undies. The product code is M100. The machine is described as a 4MB device with its OS resident in ROM rather then upgradeable EPROM, much like Palm-licensee Handspring's Visor.

Indeed, the similarity with Visor continues. It will sport a coloured case, but one that's removable, allowing users to change the colour at will. Calvin/M100 will ship for around $149, the same price as the current Palm IIIe, which it is expected to replace.

To date, Palm has largely ignored the low-end PDA market, offering the IIIe simply as a token product. However, the clear success of Handspring in the consumer space could well persuade Palm to tackle that market more forcefully. Calvin sounds like it would fit such a strategy very nicely.

Meanwhile, the potential Apple connection comes through Calvin/M100's facility to interpret "to write in your own handwriting and have the Palm translate it". Sounds suspiciously like Newton, no?

Apple and Palm have been working together - Apple CEO Steve Jobs admitted as much last January to a MacWorld Expo audience. Jobs even tried to buy Palm from its then parent 3Com a couple of years back. Instead Palm and Apple entered into a technology agreement, that's believed to centre on bringing Newton features to the Palm platform. It was also thought to involve licensing the PalmOS to Apple, though if that was the case, the Mac maker now appears to be less keen on using it in a PDA of its own.

With the multimedia features being added to the PalmOS by Sony, better handwriting recognition is clearly an important goal for Palm, and Apple's Newton 2.0 OS provided one of the best HR technology around. ®

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