06 Oct Choice Comes To PDAs
For a very long stretch, unless you dropped your PDA on hard pavement or put it through the wash, there really was no reason to upgrade to a new one. Barring a few bells and whistles intended to attract the enterprise volume buyer, PDAs offered little in the way of new styling or functionality for the typical executive. That began to change this past spring when Palm (now palmOne) rolled out additions to its differentiated Zire and Tungsten lines. If those products were tempting – and they surely were, last week’s additions to the family are going to have you reaching for your wallet (justify it as a year-end tax write-off, if nothing else).
The Palm Tungsten T3 tucks in nicely in the center of the enterprise-focused Tungsten line. With its beautiful high-resolution color display, voice memo feature, integrated Blue tooth connectivity, and no-compromise performance, the $399 T3 is a very hard to resist executive accessory.
Joining the T3 in the Tungsten line is the Tungsten E, which offers a crisp screen, nice multimedia performance, and clean integration with Outlook and Office files. It’s a capable, work-a-day handheld with a price tag (just $199) that defies any hesitancy to upgrade an older device.
Inside each of these new Tungsten devices is nicely enhanced Palm information management software that finally answers the call of users who have longed for better organizing features. The new agenda view of the calendar uses customizable color-coding and a range of formats (including a new year view) to give you at-a-glance information about current and future appointments and tasks. The contact manager now supports multiple addresses; more fields for phone, email, and IM contact information; and a new birthday field that synchronizes with the calendar. All of this synchronizes seamlessly with new built-in Outlook compatibility. And for those who want to take advantage of the free download, Palm Solutions Group has licensed from IBM a Java Virtual Machine optimized for the Tungsten line.
Rounding out last week’s product rollout was the Zire 21, the $99 wonder that will find its way into who-knows-how-many Christmas stockings. The most basic of the palmOne offerings, the Zire is best suited for students and others who only need simple calendar and contact information.
The only drawback I can find in these new palmOne offerings is that it is getting more difficult to differentiate between the top of the Zire line and the low end of the Tungsten family. In fact, my current favorite – the 6-month-old Zire 71, a terrific color device that includes a built-in camera – is priced $100 above the new Tungsten E. Then, again, for just $100 more than the Zire 71, I can get the media-rich, Bluetooth enabled Tungsten T3. Do I hold or upgrade? I haven’t decided.
And as if choosing among the new palmOne offerings isn’t hard enough, the choice is complicated by the new Treo 600 from Handspring (soon to be a part of palmOne). Handspring previewed the smart phone device in San Francisco last week, and it looks as though the sleek design, full Palm OS 5 software, QWERTY keyboard, built-in digital camera, and bright color display will set a new bar in the converged phone/PDA marketplace.
But – as they say in the infomercials – that’s not all. To great acclaim, Tapwave introduced the Zodiac at DEMOmobile in mid-September, and I had the opportunity to spend a few days with a reproduction unit last week. This is the most stylish of PalmOS-based handhelds. This entertainment- and media-focused PDA combines sleek design, incredible 3D graphics, great sound, and a slick user interface that demonstrates that Palm OS hardware developers don’t have to wed the four-button UI.
Since 1996, when Palm introduced the original PalmPilot at DEMO, the device really didn’t evolve that significantly. Sure, Handspring glued cellular phone capability onto what was more or less the original Palm design, and the devices got some much needed body styling and evolutionary software improvements along the way. Then, the innovation flood gates opened late last year. In less than 12 months, the market is offering an array of product features to satisfy varying user demands. Now, the decision to upgrade is easy, even if the choice of which product to upgrade to is difficult, indeed.
* * *DEMO 2004: CALL FOR DEMONSTRATORS * * *
DEMO is known coast to coast as the premier event that reveals the products and services poised to have the greatest impact on the technology landscape in the year to come. Each year, the nation’s top technology executives, venture investors, journalists, and analysts converge at DEMO to preview and understand the emerging products and technologies that are impacting their market segments. The search is on for the 75 products that will be honored as the most significant technology introductions of 2004. These carefully selected products enjoy the benefit of media attention, investor inquiry, and the imprimatur of the elite DEMO status. If you are working on technology worthy of the DEMO platform, go to
* * * END NOTES * * *
If start-up success is predicted by early kudos, Kubi Software is a sure thing. Since winning the coveted DEMO God award at DEMO eight months ago, the company has secured additional financing, rounded out its management team, and received honors as a “Trend setting-Product of 2003” by KMWorld Magazine. Now, founder and CEO Julio Estrada has been named one of “40 Under 40″by Boston Business Journal, in its annual issue recognizing young executives who have made outstanding contributions in their field of work. At the rate he’s going, we can only wonder how much more the 38-year-old Estrada will achieve before he hits 40.. . Synchrologic, a member of the DEMOmobile Class of 1999, earlier this month said it would merge with Pumatech, Inc., pending approval by shareholders of both companies. Synchrologic’s people and products will become Pumatech’s Enterprise Software Division. Synchrologic is headed by industry veteran Said Mohammadioun, who some may remember was chief executive of PC software pioneer Samna.
Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld’s DEMO Conferences, Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years. She can be reached at email@example.com. Shipley, has covered the personal technology business since 1984 and is regarded as one of the top analysts covering the technology industry today. Shipley has worked as a writer and editor for variety of technology consumer magazines, including PC Week, PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and InfoWorld, US Magazine and Working Woman. She has written two books on communications and Internet technology, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, and was named the #1 newsletter editor by Marketing Computers for two years in a row. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demoletter/index.html.
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