Palm's Summer Sequel: Tungsten T2

The handheld computer maker updates its original business tool with a better screen, more memory and the latest PalmSource OS.

In a world where machines have taken control of humanity, Palm Wednesday released a PDA that lets you control other machines.

And while it's not as sophisticated as say Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based handheld computer maker's first upgrade to its Tungsten T -- dubbed "T2" -- does have some merits.

Like the original Tungsten T handheld, the Tungsten T2 handheld runs on a Texas Instruments' OMAP1510 processor and is equipped with voice-recorder capabilities and internal Bluetooth for connecting with phones, PCs or other handhelds

The sequel has a memory and storage capacity double that over last year's model. The T2 now sports 32MB SDRAM (29.5MB user available), the latest Palm OS (version 5.2.1), Graffiti 2, and a high-resolution 320 x 320 transflective TFT display similar to its Tungsten C cousin.

Also departing slightly from its business-centric features, the T2 allows for MP3, video playback, and photo software for listening to music files, playing movie trailers, and storing photos. The new Tungsten ships with RealNetworks' RealOne Mobile Player, Kinoma Player and Producer, and Palm Photos software.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg called the Tungsten lineup a "solid family of PDAs that is serving Palm well."

The new addition to the Tungsten family has even found its first paying customer.

Palm said executives with New York Technology, Achievement, Leadership, Knowledge and Skills (NYTALKS), are buying 1,100 Tungsten T2 handhelds for its three-year program. The statewide school leadership training initiative aimed at superintendents and principals in public and private K-12 schools expects to purchase an additional 1,600 Palm handhelds for the final year of the program, bringing the total to 5,000.

NYTALKS is the result of a $7.5 million State Challenge Grant for Leadership Development awarded jointly to the three organizations by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But as in all summer blockbusters, after a good run all versions eventually end up on DVD and video. Palm is not making an exception here.

The company also said it is slashing the prices of its Palm m130 from $199 to $179, and the cutting the purchase cost of a Palm m515 handheld from $299 to $249.

A spokesperson for Palm told the price cuts were in no way an indication that the company is abandoning its two-year-old handhelds, but the company did say all models going forward would carry the Zire, Tungsten or Treo banner, which it is gaining from its Handspring acquisition.

"I expect the 'm' series is going away quietly as Palm focuses on building the new brands," Gartenberg said.

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