Monday, April 1, 2002

New and improved: the Palm m515 and m130


By Steve Niles

On March 4, Palm announced two new handhelds, the Palm m130 and the Palm m515, simultaneously servicing both the consumer and the enterprise market. These two devices join the wireless Palm i705 to complete Palm's Spring 2002 new product line-up. You can find our review of the Palm i705 at

The Palm m130, pictured in Figure A, retains the rugged, two-tone look of the Palm m125, but it adds a fabulous color screen, long missing from the lower-end products.


The Palm m130 is the first lower-end product to feature a color screen. (click for larger image)

The Palm m515, pictured in Figure B, updates the Palm m505.


The Palm m515 upgrades the earlier Palm m505. (click for larger image)

The Palm m505 had its share of critics, many of whom focused on the dim quality that took away from what could have been a bright, vibrant color screen. The Palm m515 promises to rectify that with its high-contrast color screen that supports 65,000 colors. In fact, the Palm m515 is completely replacing its dimmer predecessor.

Let's take a look at each device more closely, one at a time.

The Palm m130

Palm's m100 series are considered to be low-end models, appealing, according to Palm, to women, young people, and fence-sitters-customers who are unsure whether they need a Personal Digital Assistant in their life. These devices are much less expensive than other Palm handheld models, thus representing less of a commitment on the part of the buyer. However, this view of the series isn't complete. The Palm m100 series devices are becoming powerful enterprise tools in their own right.

Earlier entrants to the Palm m100 series brought many of the benefits found in the higher-end models, such as built-in dual expansion for adding new applications, additional memory, and hardware add-ons. The dual-expansion architecture includes the Palm Expansion Card Slot and the Palm Universal Connector.

The Palm Expansion Card Slot accepts a wide variety of MultiMediaCards and SD expansion cards--postage-stamp sized cards that let you carry, save, and share documents, video files, ebooks, etc. The Palm Universal Connector lets you attach hardware add-ons like a digital camera, GPS locator, graphing calculator, or keyboard.

The color screen is the last piece of the puzzle. With the introduction of the Palm m130, there is very little separating the m100 series from the m500 series. While its contemporary styling may appeal to general consumers, its racy looks will also be a status symbol in a corporate boardroom. And, of course, as we've examined in depth in the pages of this magazine, the enterprise is not just boardrooms and cubicles. It's the fields of vineyards, the underside of trucks, or even the deck of an aircraft carrier. In situations like these, the more rugged design of the Palm m100 series may be just what the IT department ordered.