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Handspring, the Palm-compatible PDA company, will launch upmarket 16bit colour models that trump Palm's current colour offerings according to ZDNet.

The report is particularly specific on launch dates codenames and prices, so either the author was consuming impressive amounts of cheese before bedtime, or we'll have to take it seriously, and we tend to the latter. According to ZDNet, a $449 Visor Prism and the $299 Visor Platinum will be launched on October 19. The former will be powered by rechargeable lithium ion batteries, and the latter by the traditional AAAs. Prism will also boast 16bit colour support, a marked improvement over Palm's 256-colour IIIc device. Handspring wouldn't comment on the report.

It marks an new strategy for Handspring, which has successfully carved a niche providing a cheap and cheerful alternative to Palm's range, sold through the direct channel (although it's also added retail distribution since its launch). Palm recently countered the popularity of the Visor with the m100 model, so this attack on Palm's unguarded, high-margin flank could make for interesting viewing. As Apple discovered during its brief period of encouraging Mac hardware clones, the cloners don't always stick to the niches they promise to stick to, and Apple saw growth fall across its entire range. We don't expect the battle for the colour Palm-compatible business to be anything like as dramatic, but the potential's certainly there, and with this move, Handspring has indicated it won't be nixed into a niche. ®

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