PalmOne Inc. is beefing up its new Tungsten T5 handheld with more memory in an attempt to make the device more appealing to business users who need access to data-intensive applications.
The Tungsten T5, which will be one of many new IT products on display at the TechXNY expo in New York this week, includes an Intel Corp. 416MHz XScale processor and 256MB of flash memory. Such memory will enable the Tungsten handheld to function as a portable USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash drive, which users can plug into a PC, said officials.
"With flash memory, you dont have to worry if you dont have time to charge your handheld or if the battery fully runs down," said Anthony Armenta, director of software development for PalmOne, in Milpitas, Calif. "You dont lose your data, and you dont have to hot-sync to get the data back from your PC."
Users can access data by switching the handheld into drive mode and plugging the devices hot-sync cable into a USB port, Armenta said.
More memory is an attractive feature for Michelin North America Inc., whose mobile sales force uses Tungsten handhelds to grab and exchange data about its fleet of trucks, said John Warren, strategic technologies manager for the Greenville, S.C., company.
The Michelin sales force uses Tungsten T2s to capture data about the tires of its truck fleets and then transfers that data back into local and central analysis and reporting tools. But loss of data hasnt been a problem for the sales team, which spends a lot of time on the road and can easily charge the devices in their vehicles.
Michelin is more focused on moving to converged devices or making better use of Wi-Fi—issues that it says PalmOne is not addressing.
"We would love to lose the cell phone and PDA and combine into one device, but, to date, we havent seen a Palm device that meets both requirements," Warren said.
Since Michelin is a Lotus Notes user, it wants to stick with Palm OS because of its out-of-the-box integration capabilities. And, because Michelin would have to rebuild its custom applications from scratch if it switched operating systems, he said.
The Tungsten T5 is based on Palm OS Version 5.4. PalmSource—the operating system supplier for Palm handhelds—released Version 6.0 nearly nine months ago, but PalmOne has yet to incorporate the new operating system into any of its devices.
The T5 includes built-in Bluetooth connectivity, but absent in the T5 is built-in support for Wi-Fi, which is available in competing Pocket PC-based models. Tungsten T5 users can still access Wi-Fi, but they have to purchase a Wi-Fi SD card, which PalmOne sells for $129.
The Tungsten T5 is priced at $399 and will be available Nov. 3. PalmOne is also cutting the price of the Tungsten T3 from $399 to $349.