Handhelds for Corporations

Palm offering new Tungsten computers.

Palm Inc. is rolling out two new handheld computers for the corporate market, one focused on display capability and the other on getting cost-conscious customers to upgrade.

The Tungsten T3 features a 320-by-480-dpi (dot-per-inch) color display that can switch from landscape to portrait mode with a tap of the screen. A status bar at the bottom of the screen provides one-tap access to alerts, full-screen handwriting, Bluetooth and basic management applications.

The T3 runs a 400MHz XScale processor from Intel Corp. and comes with 64MB of RAM. For local wireless connectivity, it has built-in Bluetooth support, allowing it to connect to the Internet by communication with a Bluetooth-enabled phone.

The T3 is priced at $399, which some handheld customers say is too much to justify upgrading.

"The portrait/landscape feature is great and one Id like but not one Im going to spend $400 to get when I have a serviceable alternative still available," said Christopher Bell, chief technology officer of The People2People Group, a media services company in Boston.

To that end, Palm has introduced the Tungsten E, which has a 320-by-320-dpi color display, 32MB of RAM and an OMAP 311 ARM processor from Texas Instruments Inc. It is not the companys most powerful handheld, but it is more powerful than the popular but dated Palm V. It is priced at $199, which officials said they hope will provide enough incentive for customers to trade in older models.

"At $199, its almost hard to resist upgrading your Palm V," said Anthony Armenta, group product manager for Tungsten handhelds at Palm, in Milpitas, Calif.

Both handhelds basic management applications have been revamped and improved over previous versions, officials said.

New features include color-coded calendar options, the ability to schedule events that last past midnight, more space for entering memo text and advanced built-in compatibility with Microsoft Corp.s Outlook. The contact fields now include space for more phone numbers and e-mail addresses than in previous models, as well as a space for birthdays. These features are specific to the Tungsten handhelds and are not part of Palm OS.

Both devices include the ability to create Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using Dataviz Inc.s Documents To Go application, as well as several multimedia applications.

Neither device includes built-in Wi-Fi wireless LAN support, but both provide an SDIO expansion slot. Palm officials said several third-party companies are testing Wi-Fi expansion cards for the Tungsten line.

Palm also announced an upgrade to its consumer-grade Zire handheld. The Zire 21 includes 8MB of RAM, which is four times the memory of the original Zire. It has a 4-bit gray-scale display and a 126MHz OMAP processor from TI.

The Zire 21 costs $99, and the price of the original Zire has been reduced to $79. Tungsten T2 pricing has been reduced as well, from $399 to $329.