Palm has introduced two new pocket computers with functions unlike those ever presented on PDAs.
The market leader's Palm Zire 71 follows a trend in cell phones by including a digital camera with 640 x 480 VGA resolution.
The new business PDA Tungsten C puts Palm into the realm of WiFi wireless network technology (using the 802.11b wireless standard).
The Zire 71, like its bigger business brother, offers a high resolution TFT color display (65,536 colors, with 320 x 320 pixels) and the new Palm OS 5.2.1 operating system. While the new Zire is primarily controlled using the Graffiti 2 handwriting recognition system, the Tungsten C, like the cell phone Tungsten W PDA, includes a "thumb keyboard" below the display, to aid in inputting short texts.
The Tungsten C runs on a 400 megahertz Xscale processor from Intel, previously only seen in PocketPCs made by the competition.
Whether Palm will be a permanent member of the Intel camp, turning its back on its traditional chip providers Texas Instruments and Motorola, remains to be seen. After all, the new Zire 71 contains an OMAP 144 MHz ARM chip from Texas Instruments.
MP3 software from Real helps turn the Zire 71 into a mobile stereo system. Combined with the Kinoma player software, the PDA can even play back small videos. Given that the device offers an internal storage space of only 16 megabytes, music and video files are best stored on storage cards that can then be inserted into the SD/Multimedia card slot.
More amply equipped is the Tungsten C with its 64 MB of storage space. Yet the Tungsten only offers monotone playback. For this reason, the Tungsten is better suited to serve as a dictaphone than a music player.
The included "documents to go" software packet lets the new high end model from Palm also read, create and edit Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Both new Palm models can synchronize dates and e-mail with Microsoft Outlook.
The new Zire model costs significantly more than the first Zire PDA, which was available for less than US$100 (85 euros).
The Zire 71 is much better equipped than Palm's beginner models. The Tungsten C will be available in stores for around US$500, putting it in a price class to compete with comparable PocketPC models.