Palm fights back

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Palm is once again gunning for the PDA high ground with its latest version of its Tungsten T PDA. The appropriately named Tungsten T3 breaks new ground for the company in several key areas – most notably in a superb quality screen that can be used in either landscape or portrait modes. It also has a faster processor and is stacked with software.

Palm is also launching a no-frills model aimed at either budget conscious consumers, or maybe accounts departments. The £150 Tungsten E has a slower processor a lower quality screen and less memory

We couldn’t quite fathom the appeal of the Tungsten T. Sure it is a very pocketable size and its Bluetooth connection, which lead to seamless Internet surfing via a GPRS mobile, worked superbly. The Tungsten C, however, with its mini keyboard, faster processor and onboard Wi-fi seemed a much better proposition.

On the whole though the updates to the Tungsten T are good ones

We like

The screen – The Tungsten T3 screen is quite superb, better than almost any other PDA on the market. The resolution at 320×480 pixels is outstanding, and we particularly like the way the PDA pulls down to extend the screen. With one click the screen can also flick between portrait and landscape modes – another first for a Palm. Overall Palm claims the screen is 50% larger than that found on any other Palm based PDA. It is excellent for web browsing and gives the PDA real gaming potential too

The processor/memory – There is a school of thought which claims that 200Mhz found on the original Tungsten T was enough processing power to run Palm’s ultra efficient operating system and applications. Then again they probably haven’t experimented with the 400Mhz Intel Xscale which first debuted on the Tungsten C. Applications appear in no time and work extremely efficiently. Palm has also upped he storage on the device up to 52MB – a reasonable amount yet you’ll be surprised how quickly it can fill up.

On board applications – Palm has made it easy for the punter; everything’s here from Documents to Go (for reading microsoft office files) to Real’s MP3 player and Kimona’s video player. It now rivals the best of the Pocket PC PDAs in terms of applications.

Java compatibility – Not an obvious addition, but may prove handy given the amount of applications being developed for Java.

The price – Palm is selling the Tungsten T3 for £329. Given a bit of a nudge by online retailers it should be easy to pick up one for less than £300 very shortly. That sounds very competitive.

Not so sure

Keypad – Well for those who have never got on with Graffiti a keypad like the one on the Tungsten C or even the latest version of the Handspring Treo would have been good.

Wi-Fi – Can it really be that difficult to accommodate both Bluetooth and Wi-fi. We’d certainly have the paid the extra £50-75 for it.

PIM – Palm has made adjustments to its personal information manager. The tweaks are on the whole fairly sensible, like a colour-coded calendar with week, month and year view and more contact information offerings, it is just that they take a little getting used to.

Overall

With the arrival of smartphones as powerful yet as pocketable as the Motorola MPx200, the whole future of PDAs has been thrown into question. While they are certain to live on in the corporate market will consumers prefer something like this over a smaller GPRS, or even 3G handset? It is difficult to say.

Whatever happens Palm has certainly created a very impressive PDA. The screen is quite superb, and the model now rivals top-end Pocket PCs in terms of applications. The Tungsten T3 has a very competitive price too.

Even so given the choice I’d take the all-in one Palm device (the Handspring Treo 600) over this and a small Bluetooth equipped mobile. If you are a two-device person though this is well worth investing in.

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