Friday, January 1, 1999

The Palm VII, DevCon, and me


By S. Fred Green a.k.a. Fredlet

The 1998 Palm Developers Conference was held December 2-4 in Santa Clara, California. Ranging in topics from the basics of Palm Platform software development to international marketing, this particular conference was not for your casual Palm device user.

Speakers ranged from Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinski to Guy Kawasaki, and at the "Partner Pavilion" major Palm developers were able to show their latest and greatest new products. Corporations like IBM, Symbol Technologies, and TRG were also present to talk about what's possible with the technologies they are developing.

There was a lot of activity -- and a whole lot of signs, as you can see in Figure A.


A look at the Palm Developer's Conference -- and the signs of the times. (click for larger image)

Oh yeah, did I mention they announced the Palm VII?

Interestingly, Palm's managers dismissed all rumors about Razor (this was the skinny Palm device we've been hearing rumors about, yet senior Palm personnel claim it never existed). The Palm people then proceeded to talk about the new features that will distinguish the Palm VII, shown in Figure B, from its competition. They also announced software that will take advantage of the wireless features.


Some guy's hand, a picture of Dilbert, and the Palm VIII. (click for larger image)

Since the official press release announcement is available on just about every Web site I have seen (including PalmPower's News Center), I'll skip it and instead give you a quick rundown of the specs for the Palm VII:

  • Processor: Motorola Dragonball (Model 68328-same as the predecessors)
  • Screen: same as the Palm III
  • Communications: built-in 2-way wireless radio
  • Network: provided by BellSouth covering 260 of the most populated areas of the U.S. (sorry Montana, you don't seem to be covered.)
  • Encryption: Elliptic Curve Cryptography (really strong encryption) by Certicom

The wireless network, called Palm.Net, will provide information for the Palm VII such as travel information, an ATM locator, financial news, stock information, movie listings, airline listings, package tracking, news headlines, white pages as well as yellow pages searches, weather information and more.

With the wireless network, you'll be able to send and receive short emails and lots of information over the air, although its not a substitute for your regular email account. Instead, you'll receive small chunks of information at your account (for example, I've decided that I will be'll pay a monthly fee of $9.95 for 50KB of transmissions, the equivalent of 250 screens of information. There's also a higher rate of $24.99 per month for 750 KB of information (750 screens). That's not a lot of data transmission for the money -- a typical article of PalmPower can be 35K or so of pure text.