It seems that 2003 is becoming the year of the PDA, with several of the larger venders – Dell, for example – getting models into the market for the first time, while the older, better known PDA manufacturers are busy launching brand new models. Palm’s latest PDA is the Tungsten T, aimed at the higher end of the market and featuring a higher resolution colour screen, Bluetooth support and the latest Palm 5.0 OS.
The first thing you notice about the Tungsten T is just how small it is – a mere 7.5cm by 10.2cm by 1.5cm. This is because the ‘Graffiti’ handwriting recognition pad is hidden away behind a sliding mechanism. The T version uses the Graffiti pad only; its sibling, the W, features a QWERTY keyboard.
The sliding mechanism feels sturdy, but while it protects the pad when not in use, it does cover up the Home, Menu, Favorite and Search buttons, so you have to open the unit to get back to the main screen. When you slide open the case the system powers on; there is also a separate power button.
On the slider sit the usual navigation buttons; Calendar, Contacts, To Do and Notepad. Instead of scroll buttons there is a five-way directional pad. At the side of the unit sit the built-in microphone and the headphone socket, both of which have reasonable audio quality. While small in stature, the Tungsten T certainly doesn’t feel it, weighing in at 157g.
Palm’s Tungsten T is the first Palm OS-based PDA to offer any form of wireless capability and the Bluetooth technology works well without presenting too many problems (the Tungsten W has 802.11 instead of Bluetooth).
Using the latest version of the Palm OS, the Tungsten T also has much better components than its predecessors, including Arm’s latest processor, the OMAP 1510, running at 174MHz. This is a huge leap up from the 33MHz chip fitted to most earlier Palms, and it is also optimised for lower power consumption than previous chips. The memory is still just the meagre 16MB but as the Tungsten T features a SD card slot, this can be easily upgraded.
The other improvement with the Tungsten T is the screen. Its resolution is up to 320 x 320 pixels, four times the amount of pixels as the previous 160 x 160. And it shows, with bold bright colours and well defined text, showing up the re-vamped icons and fonts. The backlit, reflective 65k-colour screen is viewable in sunlight as well as indoors and is nearly as good as Sony’s PDA screens.
Palm has bundled some useful software with the Tungsten T, including Mobile DB database software, Web Browser Pro, Documents To Go (a Word, Excel and Powerpoint reader) and Versamail (a Bluetooth-specific e-mail client).
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