Expansion slot adds a lot to Palm's m505

Expansion slot adds a lot to Palm's m505

BOX SCORE

Palm m505


PERSONAL DIGITAL ASSISTANT


Palm Inc.; Santa Clara, Calif.;

tel. 408-326-9000

www.palm.com

Price: $450


+ Expansion slot

+ Ultraportable and long-running

+ USB-connectable

- Expensive


Real-life requirements:

For synchronization: Windows 9x, NT, 2000 or ME; Mac OS 8.5.1 or 9; 50M free storage; CD-ROM drive; USB port

The m505 can display 65,000 colors, but not much more colorfully than earlier color Palms, and the glare can be strong.

You'll have the blues on the new m505 Palm personal digital assistant, and the reds, too. Its thin-film-transistor display can show up to 65,000 colors.

Palm Inc. claims the m505 has higher-quality images than the 8-bit-color Palm IIIc, but I didn't notice much difference. In fact, it was a little difficult to view because of its mirrorlike reflections.

A more important update in the m505's Palm OS 4.0 is the flexibility to accept expansion cards. Not being able to use the cards caused some early Palm users to defect to competing PDAs from Compaq Computer Corp., Handspring Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., and Sony Corp.

The m505's expansion card slot is well-designed. The thin, inch-wide opening at the top left accepts MultiMediaCards that are a quarter-inch wide, a little more than an inch long and about a tenth of an inch thick.

The expansion slot is dramatically smaller and sleeker than those in the Handspring Visor or Compaq PDAs, and even the Sony Clie PEG-S300's looks thick by comparison. Although a MultiMediaCard is tiny, it can supply 8M to 256M of memory and works with devices such as printers and digital cameras.

Fit and trim

The m505 design, modeled after the Palm V, is slimmer and lighter at 4.5 by 3.1 by 0.5 inches and 4.9 ounces. That makes it the lightest PDA with color on the market.

The Palm V form factor has been remodeled from top to bottom. Besides the expansion slot, the m505 has a Universal Connector port at the bottom that in the future will connect hardware such as modems and digital cameras.

Speaking of the Universal Connector, the m505 is now Universal Serial Bus-connectable, which is something else PDA users have been wanting. If your PC runs Microsoft Windows 95 or NT, Palm sells a serial port-connected bay for the m505 separately.

Battery life is about as long as it is for the Palm V or Vx: three to four weeks. As on those models, the lithium-ion polymer battery is rechargeable.

It weighs less than throwaway batteries and recharges whenever you synchronize the m505 with the PC. It charges in a couple of hours from a completely drained state.

Palm has added several small touches. For example, the m505 has a Notification Manager that can set off a vibrating alarm. A silent-alert function blinks on and off.

Such features are common in wireless phones and are gaining popularity in the PDA market. You might say the two are converging because the m505 also lets a user dial telephone numbers from its memory when a wireless phone is connected.

The m505 also has a much-needed time zone function and better security for travel overseas.

I liked the new calculator and the Notepad application, which records quick handwritten notes that don't merit taking the trouble for Graffiti notation.

Finally, the m505's leather cover connects to the side and protects the screen'an elegant touch coined from the Palm V.

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