palmOne Lowers Price of Wi-Fi PDA

By James Alan Miller

April 06, 2004

The Tungsten C price drop could be a prelude to new wireless handhelds.

palmOne has lowered the price of its popular Tungsten C PDA by $100, bringing the list price of the handheld down to $399.

Introduced a year ago, the Tungsten C was not only the first Palm handheld to integrate 802.11b Wi-Fi access, but also featured other impressive specifications, such as 64MB of memory, a 400 MHz processor, and a thumb-keyboard.

Perhaps palmOne is lowering the price of the PDA in preparation of the release of a new model, as the company often releases new products in the Spring and Fall. More powerful processors and devices based on the latest Palm operating system, Cobalt, are expected from Palm OS licensees in the coming months.

When palmOne released the Tungsten C, the company said it was aimed at campus-based professionals who are away from their desk most of the day but need access to all the information on their PC. In addition to having the most memory available in a Palm-based PDA at the time, since eclipsed by 128MB models such as the TapWave Zodiac, the Tungsten C also has a bright 320 x 320 transflective TFT display that supports 65,536 colors.

It features an internal rechargeable 1500mAh battery that provides a full work day of consistent Wi-Fi connectivity, or a full work week of normal handheld use. The Tungsten C runs Palm OS 5.21, which is the first version of the Palm OS to feature Graffiti 2 based on CIC's Jot application.

New palmOne PDAs

In an interview with the BBC last month, palmOne CEO Todd Bradley expressed strong interest in extending further into smartphones, such as the company's Treo 600, and expanding the company's market share. However, he stated that the opportunity with regular PDAs is still there. And palmOne will release new PDAs next month and continue to release new models in its Zire and Tungsten handheld lines.

Bradley didn't offer much in the way of details about this month's new handhelds other than that they would include a lot more multimedia storage.

Some details about a couple of potential new PDAs have been circulating however. These include sequels to the Zire 71, the company's first handheld with a digital camera; the Tungsten E, a mid-priced professional model; and the Zire 21, an entry level PDA.

The Zire 71 follow-up, the Zire 72, is rumored to look like the Tungsten E and include 64MB of RAM with 56 MB available to the user, and like the Zire 71, a digital camera. The Zire 71 only has 16 MB of memory and the camera on the Zire 72 is purported to be a far superior at 1.3 megapixels. The handheld would run Palm OS 5.2.1, now called Garnet. It may bring Bluetooth to the Zire line also.

The Zire 31 would replace the current monochrome Zire 21 with a color 160x160 resolution display and a 200MHz processor, and the Tungsten E2 would add Bluetooth and a 320x480 display.

According to a IDC report, handheld device shipments rose 3.2% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of last year compared to the same period in 2002, while the number of handhelds shipped grew by 52.7% to 3.4 million units. For the full year, however, the handheld market decreased to 10.4 million units; a drop of 17.9% from the previous year's shipments of 12.6 million units.

Reprinted from Palm Boulevard.

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