New Palm handhelds boast Java support

Palm Canada Inc. released a line-up of new products recently, including two handheld devices geared towards mobile professionals and corporate users ranging in price from $299 to $599.

The Tungsten T3 handheld builds on Palm’s Tungsten T Bluetooth-enabled line of products and, according to one Palm user, the most exciting element about this new $599 model is the screen.

“What I really like about [the T3] is the new 320 x 480 screen resolution. People who use Palm, people I know have been waiting for that,” said Sean D. Evans, a programmer/analyst at Bell Mobility in Toronto. “Sony brought that out a couple of years ago and being an avid Palm user myself, I have been waiting for Palm to do it. So that excites me very much.”

Evans is currently using Palm’s Zire 71 handheld – which includes a wireless camera but no wireless connectivity – that he purchased in June but said that if he had only waited four more months he would have set his sights on the T3.

The Tungsten T3 is compact when it is closed, but by pulling the handheld away from the centre at both ends, an extra area of screen is made available, said Janet Gillespie, director of marketing at Palm Canada in Mississauga, Ont. This allows for up to three additional columns and 11 more rows to be visible on the screen when using a spreadsheet application, she added.

The device is Palm’s first machine that supports a high-resolution colour screen and operates in both the traditional portrait view as well as landscape mode and is 50 per cent bigger than any other handheld Palm has made in the past, Gillespie said.

Another new feature included in the new T3 is the status bar located along the bottom of the screen which gives the user access to the device’s most important applications including a home page icon, a fast find function, a drop down menu and time display.

Java technology is now available on the Tungsten line, according to Gillespie, including IBM’s WebSphere Micro Environment (WME) – a Java 2 platform micro edition (J2ME) software runtime – as well as thousands of existing Java applications. Additionally, three million Java developers have been added to Tungsten’s developer community.

Gillespie said Palm has other models that are more focused on wireless connectivity – including the Tungsten C – but this handheld is geared toward a user that doesn’t need an “always on” wireless solution.

Evans added that the $599 price tag is “fantastic” and said that he is very surprised by the price considering that new devices usually come attached with more dollar signs.

“I remember the Tungsten T when it came out, I think it was $700. So I am very pleased to see that the price points are coming down. That definitely makes it worth looking at seriously,” Evans said.

The $299 Tungsten E is the newest entry-level product in the Tungsten line, Gillespie said, adding that it is geared more towards mobile business professionals that want to buy a new handheld but are price-conscious, or for companies that are watching their pennies but want to equip workers with handheld devices.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Tungsten E – which takes over from the Palm 5 – has no wireless or online capabilities, but boasts 320 x 320 high-resolution colour display, a Texas Instruments Inc. OMAP 311 ARM processor and 32MB of internal memory, Palm said.

Evans said the E model reminds him of a less expensive version of the original Tungsten T, but without Bluetooth capability.

“It seems like a stripped down Tungsten T, but still with the same resolution, the same colour and all that. It’s still a good unit and I’m glad they are keeping with that, but I think the Tungsten T3 is definitely the ‘gadget-user’s’ Palm [device].”

According to Palm, the E model is also equipped with an infrared port, a speaker, a five-way navigator and a power adapter connection.

Evans, who has been a Palm customer since 1997, said he uses his handheld for both business and personal applications including everything from documents, databases to store work and personal lists to e-books and games.

Palm said it is gearing the Tungsten line of products toward corporate vertical markets including government, education and healthcare.