Palm Offers New Wi-Fi Handheld

By James Alan Miller

October 12, 2005

The PDA vendor unleashes two new handhelds, the entry-level Palm Z22 and the higher-end Palm TX with Wi-Fi, as it discontinues the Zire and Tungsten brands.

Palm, Inc. has introduced two new handhelds, the Palm TX and Palm Z22, the first PDAs in three years from the company not to fall under the Zire (consumer) and Tungsten (professional & business) sub-brands.

The Palm TX a low-priced high-end PDA model, while the Palm Z22 is aimed at the entry-level users market. With today's announcement, Palm lays the names Zire and Tungsten to rest.

The company says it prefers consumers focus on the Palm brand for standard handhelds going forward. It shared rights to the name with PalmSource after splitting with the platform developer and changing its moniker to palmOne two years back.

In July, the PDA pioneer bought out PalmSource's 55 percent stake in the Palm Trademark Holding Company, whereupon it gained exclusive rights to the Palm brand and turned once again to the Palm designation. While Tungsten and Zire are history, Treo for smartphone and LifeDrive for what the company calls Mobile Managers—devices with everything but the kitchen sink, including multi-gigabyte hard drives—are still in play.

Palm TX
One year ago Palm released the Tungsten T5, its first handheld with non-volatile flash memory rather than traditional RAM. As a result, the device maintained all a user's data in the event of a complete power loss. This makes stored information much safer than with most other smartphones and PDAs.

The $300 Palm TX is basically the follow-up to this device. Palm prices the new device $100 less than the Tungsten T5 cost when that handheld first shipped. The company says the Palm TX is priced to compete with devices like Hewlett-Packard's iPAQ rx1950 and Dell's Axim X51.

Palm senior VP of worldwide marketing Ken Wirt says, "This is the wireless device customers have been waiting for. There is no other handheld on the market today with the same capabilities at the same affordable price."

The Palm TX offers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802.11b), both of which can be used for the first time at the same time in a Palm handheld. There's less non-volatile flash memory, 128 MB to 256 MB, and a slower CPU, 312 MHz to 416 MHz, than the Tungsten T5, however. The Palm TX's memory can't be used as a USB drive like the Tungsten 5's also.

Cobalt, the increasingly long-in-the-tooth latest Palm platform, is still a no show. The Palm TX runs on Palm OS Garnet 5.4. Of course, the unit integrates an SDIO-enable Secure Digital (SD) slot for peripheral and memory expansion.

The 4.7 x 3.1 x 0.6 inch, 5.25 ounce handheld's 65,000 color screen runs at a 320 x 480 pixels, the same as the Tungsten T5. A flip cover protects the display. And instead of a cradle, the Palm TX ships with a USB cable to connect to a desktop computer.

While a 3.5mm Stereo jack enables users to listen to music and other types of digital audio, the Palm TX lacks in the multimedia department: no camera or voice recorder.

New mobile applications optimized for use over Wi-Fi include Avvenu and MobiTV. With Avvenu for Palm Products, users can view, download and share their media and documents they left on their desktops at home or at work. MobiTV (sold separately) allows users to view a wide range of television programs, including news, sports and entertainment, on their Palm TX handhelds.

Click here for more (including more about its software bundle) on the Palm TX .

Palm Z22
At 2.7 x 4.06 x 0.6 inches and 3 ounces, the Palm Z22 is a compact and light organizer built for the mass market. At $99, it is Palm's most affordable color handheld yet. With it, Palm is targeting the $1 billion per year paper-planner market.

"It's perfect for first-time users and students, who can now throw away their paper planners, replacing scratched-out pages and dozens of sticky notes with all the information they need in one little place," asserts Wirt.

The entry-level PDA's display runs at a low, by today's standards, 160 x 160 pixels. It has 32 MB of memory with only 20 MB of that actually available. Thankfully, the Palm Z22 leverages the same non-volatile flash memory as other recent Palm handhelds.

Additional features include Palm OS Garnet 5.4 like the Palm TX and a 200 MHz processor. Suprisingly—even for such a low-end device—there's no memory slot to add more storage via an expansion card. We think even entry-level users will find 20 MB kind of cramped after a while.

Click here for more on the Palm Z22. We'll review both the Palm Z22 and Palm TX in the next few weeks.

Reprinted from SmartPhoneToday.

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