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Palm will release three new PDAs in October: a pair of Zires and what looks like the rumoured Tungsten T3.

They, at least, are likely bets if information from an anonymous poster on ClieSource who claims to be a Best Buy employee is accurate. The data coincides with a report on Brighthand also citing an anonymous source who claimed that three new PDAs had appeared on the database of "a major electronics retailer".

So what do we have? According to the ClieSource posting, the models have the Palm model numbers, P8 0870 US, P8 0730 US and P0 880 US, and are priced at $429.99, $99.99 and $199.99, respectively, though the poster warns that prices are usually subject to change before release.

The first machine will ship in a 6 x 6 x 6in cubic box, while the other two will be made available in 9 x 3.3 x 7in packages. That suggests the first is a member of the Tungsten family, all of which have shipped in cubic boxes, while the others are Zires. We don't have Zire or Tungsten packaging to hand, but those figures sound about right.

As for the model numbers, the Tungsten's number fits a pattern. The original Tungsten T is the P8 0850 US, and the recently released Tungsten T2 has the number P8 0860 US. If the P8 0870 US code is genuine, it's almost certainly the T3.

Now, a machine surfaced last month on a Chinese web site. That was widely interpreted as a 'T3' model, with more stylish, redesigned navigator and application button cluster than the T or the T2, more memory (64MB) and a bigger (320x480) LCD - the extra space allows for a virtual Graffiti text entry area; overall the T3 (if such it is) seems no larger than the other Tungsten Ts.

We'd also point out - which no one else seems to have recalled - that Palm has already committed itself to releasing a new Tungsten in the autumn. That information was made public in June in a Palm Solutions Group press release touting a then recent Java 2 Mobile Edition runtime licensing deal. At the time, it was assumed that the announcement referred to the T2, but since that has now shipped, the release must surely have been heralding the T3.

The T2 is currently priced at $399, the T at $349, so $429 is about what we'd expect the T3 to be assuming Palm doesn't cut its prices in the meantime.

The Zire product numbering, however, is confusing. The first model is the P80 0730 US, which sounds like a logical follow-on from the P8 0707 US (the original Zire) and the P8 0720 US (the Zire 71). However, while $99 price tag would seemingly put the new model between the current Zires.

Since the price is the least accurate information included in the posting, we'll stick our neck right out and forecast the new model is a Zire 71 with more RAM, an OS upgrade and possible the same, larger screen as the T3. It will be accompanied by a price cut that brings the 71 down into the mid-range.

The other Zire has as $199.99 price tag, so it's possible that the new machine is a mid-range model, but the source has mis-typed the price. But the model numbering suggests that that's not the case.

As for the other Zire's P8 0880 US code, that wonder if that suggests a wireless model, probably with built-in Bluetooth support. We'd normally expect Palm to keep the 0880 designation for a future Tungsten T, so if it is a Zire, it has to be a special one - hence the wireless support. Bluetooth is the one key feature missing from the 71, a multimedia messaging-oriented PDA if there ever was one.

Another possibility exists albeit a slim one: the Palm version of the Handspring Treo 600. The merger between Palm Solutions Group and Handspring is expected to have been completed in that timeframe. However, the price is certainly very wrong indeed, and it's not yet clear how the Handspring line will be integrated into Palm's model numbering system. ®

Related Stories

Palm Tungsten T2 launch imminent
Second Tungsten T successor surfaces
Palm to extend Tungsten PDA line in Q3
Palm Tungsten-T follow-up revealed?

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