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PalmOne unveils 256MB Flash drive T5 PDA

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Update PalmOne launched the Tungsten T5, its first PDA to ship with 256MB of memory and the first to operate as a USB Flash drive, this morning, as anticipated.

PalmOne Tungsten T5The launch confirms what pre-release photos of the device purported: that the T5 uses the slider-less casing of the Tungsten E. The latter's 320 x 320 display is dropped in favour of a 320 x 480 job of the kind already seen on the Tungsten T3. Like the T3, the T5 uses a virtual Graffiti text-entry area and can switch the screen between landscape and portrait mode at a flick of the stylus.

The PDA is powered by a 416MHz Intel XScale processor, almost certainly a PXA270. Bluetooth wireless connectivity is built in, but Wi-Fi, the subject of much pre-release speculation, is not. However, there's the usual SD IO card slot, allowing buyers to add PalmOne's own Wi-Fi SD card.

The unit incorporates 256MB of Flash, of which 215MB are available to the user: 55MB for on-board memory, the remaining 160MB configured as an internal storage card. The memory comes courtesy of M-Systems' DiskonChip technology. The PDA now includes a new file browser application, PalmOne Files, which is pre-set to be activated from of the buttons on the case.

PalmOne is pitching the T5 not only as a PDA but as a highly portable external hard drive, allowing users to carry around important documents wherever they go. The USP over regular Flash drives is the ability to view, and in the case of Microsoft Office documents, edit those files as well as carry them.

It's a novel idea and one that crucially paves the way for the incorporation of hard drives into PDAs. That will better position the platform as the worlds of the mobile phone, PDA and portable entertainment device, from the iPod to the Microsoft Portable Media Center, continue to coalesce.

The T5 runs PalmOS 5.4.5. It dispenses with PalmOne's long-standing Universal Connector in favour of a new interface, the Multi Connector.

Launch today, the new PDA will not ship for a month. PalmOne said it expects to make the device "widely available" on 3 November on its own web store. The T5 will retail for around $399 in the US. PalmOne is cutting the price of the T3 to $349, down $50, to make room for the new model. UK pricing will be around £329. ®

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