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FCC yanks approval from Palm, Handspring wireless PDAs

At their request, to keep details out of public domain

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The Federal Communications Commission has decided it doesn't like wireless devices from Palm and Handspring after all, and officially withdrawn its approval.

Not that is has anything to do with the kit itself. Rather, both companies asked the FCC to do so. The reason? To get details of the Palm i705, and Handspring Treo k180 and g180 pulled from its public Web site.

It's easily done, said an FCC spokesman. "We will, at the request of the manufacturer, defer the grants. All they have to do is check a box," he added, according to a CNET report.

They can also specify when approval is restored. Handspring has chosen 15 October, suggesting it plans to launch the devices in that timeframe, though it's worth bearing in mind that approval dates, like the approvals themselves, can be altered at the drop of a hat. For its part, Palm hasn't specified a date.

Palm's i705 - better known, perhaps, by its codename, Skywalker - sports a built-in antenna and maintains an always-on Net connection, battery power permitting. LEDs show the status of the connection.

Handspring's Treo family, on the other hand, appear to aimed more at the smartphone market. The Treo k180 (codenamed Manhattan) is essentially a PalmOS-based alternative to RIM's popular Blackberry device - hence the inclusion of a keypad in place of the usual Graffiti character entry panel. The Treo g180 (codenamed Shea) does, however, offer standard Graffiti input.

Both machines can operate as GSM mobile phones, and include SIM slots. They will ship with an SMS app and Handspring's Blazer Web browser. There's an email app, apparently, but unlike the i705 the Handspring's are assuming occasional use of these features. As we say, they're more about bringing PDA functionality to cellphones than bringing always-on Net access to the PDA. ®

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