Boasting boosted screen resolution and two peripheral expansion slots, the Palm OS-based HandEra 330 stands out as one of the most flexible handheld devices available, meriting an eWeek Labs Analysts Choice designation.
The $349 handheld computer that HandEra Inc. (formerly TRG Products Inc.) shipped last week features a gray-scale LCD with a resolution of 240 by 320 pixels—we dont expect Palms own devices to exceed a 160-by-160- pixel resolution until Palm OS 5.0 ships sometime next year.
HandEra expanded the display space available on the 330 by replacing the typically silk-screened Graffiti area common to all other Palm OS devices with a software-based input area. As a result, we were able to hide the input area when we didnt need it and work with a larger display area instead.
The HandEra 330s high-resolution display more clearly renders small fonts and detailed pictures than is possible with a 160-by-160 display, but developers must tailor their applications to take advantage of this feature. The HandEra 330 can scale Palm OS applications designed for the standard display to fit the 330s display or run those in a 160-by-160 box.
In tests, this display compatibility mode worked fine most of the time, but certain applications, such as Astraware Ltd.s Biplane Ace game, would not work in either mode.
The HandEra 330 maintains the support for CF (CompactFlash) cards that distinguished its forebear, the TRG Pro, and adds support for SD (Secure Digital) cards and MMC (MultiMedia Cards) as well. With both slots available, users may extend the HandEra 330 with a modem, Ethernet card or other CF-based peripheral, while running applications or accessing data from an SD or MMC card—a capability absent from other palm-size handheld devices.
The HandEra 330 closely resembles the TRG Pro and the Palm IIIxe in size and heft, measuring 3.2 inches wide by 0.7 inches high by 4.7 inches long, with a weight of 5.9 ounces. The 330 sports the same serial synchronization connector as the TRG Pro and Palm IIIxe as well, which means that the 330 is compatible with the large number of third-party peripherals designed for those models.
The HandEra 330 is powered by four AAA batteries, compared with the two that powered the TRG Pro. According to HandEra officials, an optional lithium-ion battery pack will be available to power the 330 as an alternative.