Friday, November 1, 2002

Palm gets up to date with new Tungsten family of handhelds


By Steve Niles

On October 28, 2002, Palm unveiled two brand new handheld devices, the Palm Tungsten T and the Palm Tungsten W. The Palm Tungsten T (at, priced at $499, is available now. It features a "slider" that can be moved up or down to hide the Graffiti area when you don't need it. The device is pictured in both configurations in Figure A.


Palm's new Tungsten T handheld features a unique slider. (click for larger image)

The navigation and application buttons are on the slider. If you're not inputting data using Palm's Graffiti alphabet, you can tuck away the silkscreen area, creating a more compact device. There's a new one-handed 5-way navigator that activates up, down, left, right, and select. With the navigator, you can launch applications and view information without having to take out the stylus. The classic Palm PIM (Personal Information Management) applications--Date Book, Address Book, Note Pad, and To Do List--have been updated to take advantage of this 5-way navigation.

Its wireless cousin, the Palm Tungsten W (at, won't be available until early 2003, but it will feature a built in keyboard and phone. Basically, Palm is following the lead of Handspring's Treo communicator line. The device is pictured in Figure B.


Palm's Tungsten W is a wireless phone/PDA combo with a built in keyboard. (click for larger image)

The OS influence

The Tungsten T is the first Palm branded line to feature Palm OS 5. The new operating system has built-in support for ARM-compliant processors, which should word to accelerate applications. More speed and power means the device can handle software with more advanced graphics and manage larger databases. Speaking of graphics, the new OS has support for 320x320 pixel screens (double the resolution of previous generation products). It also supports sound recording and playback. As far as wireless connectivity goes, Palm OS 5 supports Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless networking standards. It also includes a suite security services that can be integrated into applications and corporate security policies depending on your needs.

Let's take a look at how Palm OS 5 has influenced the design of the Palm Tungsten T.


The Palm Tungsten T runs on Texas Instruments' OMAP1510 processor. This should give it the necessary the power to run more intense multimedia features and software applications, such as short video clips, digital audio files or photos, and interactive games. As mentioned before, the new OS allows for the Tungsten T's crisp 320x320 color screen, Palm's sharpest screen to date.