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Palm October trio details emerge

Zire 21, Tungsten E and T3

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More details have appeared about the three PDAs Palm is expected to ship next October.

At the top of the list is the Tungsten T3, the successor to the recently released Tungsten T2, which is expected to replace the original T when the T3 ships next month. A report on Palm Infocenter claims the device will feature a 400MHz Intel XScale processor - a big leap above the T2's 144MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 1510 chip.

That's an interesting claim, given that early piccies of the machine sported an OMAP logo on the back. Has Palm changed the spec., or did it simply construct the prototype out of old Tungsten T parts? Whatever, there's no doubt that the corporate flagship Tungsten T series needs a faster processor, the better to match Pocket PC rivals and to outpace Palm's own Zire consumer line.

To the processor specification, the story reiterates what has already been said about the device: that it will integrate Bluetooth - unsurprising, given that this is a key differentiator for the T series; up the memory to 64MB (51MB of which is available to the user, apparently); and show a virtual graffiti text entry panel on the lower 160 pixels of the 320 x 480 transflective LCD. Rotating the device through 90° automatically forces the screen to reformat in landscape mode.

Finally, as per earlier pictures, the T3's application and navigation buttons have been redesigned into an oval configuration, with the five-way navigation control at the centre. Apparently, the keys can be locked off to prevent them from activating the PDA when pressed inadvertently.

If the T3 is to get a faster CPU, the second new model, the Tungsten E, will use the same 144MHz processor used in the T and T2. Like all Tungstens, the E is aimed at the enterprise, but this time as an entry-level mass-purchase device.

Like the T2 it will feature 32MB of memory, run Palm OS 5.2 and have a fixed Graffiti text-entry area. Essentially, it's a T2 for corporate IT departments which believe the T2's slider design is too fiddly and offers too great an opportunity for breakage in the field. For the same reason, it won't ship with a cradle but a simple USB-to-Universal Connector cable.

Palm Infocenter says the machine will ship with the next release of Palm's e-mail app, VersaMail 2.6, and Documents-to-Go 6.0, which will apparently add native Microsoft Office file format support in place of the software's own format, which Office documents are converted to and from during synchronisation.

Palm will also fill out its Zire line next month with the 21. It's not yet clear if it will replace the original Zire. But given its anticipated $99 price tag, this has to be a possibility - unless Palm is really keen to drive the consumer PDA market with a very low entry price.

Like the original Zire, the 21 has a mono 160 x 160 screen, but the memory has been upgraded from 2MB to 8MB. Since the new model will run Palm OS 5, it's a safe bet that the processor has been upgraded from the old 16MHz Motorola Dragonball EZ to an ARM-based chip, probably an OMAP, suggests Palm Infocenter.

Pricing for the Tungstens is expected to be around $399 for the T3 and $199 for the E. ®

Related Stories

Palm to offer entry-level enterprise PDA
BestBuy database said to list new Palms
Second Tungsten T successor surfaces

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