Tungsten T2: Rise of the machine

The Tungsten T2 looks a lot like its predecessor, the T, down to the sliding Graffiti compartment, but it has more memory, speed and software flexibility.

With a low price, light weight, small size and convenient software features, this PDA has everything but the wireless sync

Although it sounds like a movie sequel, the T2 is actually the latest Tungsten handheld computer from Palm Inc.

It has the same 144-MHz Texas Instruments OMAP1510 ARM-compatible processor as the T1'a big improvement over the sluggish 33-MHz Motorola DragonBall in earlier Palms. But the T2 does advance beyond the T1 in several ways.

Most notably, the T2 has 32M of synchronous dynamic RAM, of which 29.5M is open to the user. Compared with the T1's 16M, the extra memory boosts the T2 into competition with enterprise handhelds from Dell Computer Corp., Research In Motion Ltd. and Sony Electronics Inc. It's fast and reliable for only $399.

Besides 32M of SDRAM, the T2 has 8M of ROM reserved to operate most of the applications.
The T2 costs $200 less than the Hewlett-Packard iPaq h5450 and $100 less than the Sony Clie' PEG-NX73V, but it shares many of their features. For example, the T2 has the latest in LCD screens, with 320- by 320-pixel resolution and more than 65,000 colors.

Like the iPaq, the T2 comes with built-in Bluetooth wireless connectivity and an Allow Wakeup feature, which lets it communicate securely with other Bluetooth devices via a user-selected passkey.

Drivers for most Bluetooth phones such as the Sony Ericsson T68i and the Motorola TP280 come embedded in the T2's firmware.

Lacks 802.11b

Despite the Bluetooth features, there's one capability I missed in the T2, although the Tungsten C has it with WiFi. Its embedded IEEE 802.11b wireless capacity lets the C hot-synchronize with a local PC through a wireless access point.

This useful ability to sync without docking should have been possible for the T2's Bluetooth capability. It would merely have required a Bluetooth chip set in the cradle.

Palm has made an important software improvement, however. A T2 user can create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files without installing any extra software. The T2 also comes ready to play video and MP3 files without any lengthy setup.

The T2's Palm OS 5.2.1 operating system represents an improvement over the T1's OS 5.0. The differences primarily have to do with the embedded Microsoft Office-compatible software and media capabilities, but the interface is friendlier for programming and using wireless features.

One small flaw: The flimsy plastic cover must be completely removed to operate the unit. Palm should return to the Palm V's stylish and effective leather cover.

The best thing the T2 inherited from the T1 is a hidden Graffiti compartment, exposed by sliding open the lower half of the unit. With the compartment hidden, the T2 is among the smallest handhelds on the market, measuring only 4 by 3 by 0.6 inches.

At 5.6 ounces, it's also among the lighter handhelds. Most models in our recent roundupweighed more than six ounces and were on average an inch longer.

Small size, out-of-the-box readiness and low price make the T2 an ideal handheld to tuck into your pocket on the road.

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