GCN Lab: Two new Palm handhelds

GCN Lab: Two new Palm handhelds

Palm Inc.'s newest Tungsten C and Zire 71 handheld computers for two very different types of users arrived this week at the GCN Lab.

The Tungsten C had an aggressive, 400-MHz Intel XScale processor, the Palm 5.2.1 operating system, 64M of RAM and native IEEE 802.11b Wi-Fi capability. Designed primarily for managers who spend lots of time in meetings or airports, it accepted handwritten notations on a 320- by 320-pixel, transflective color LCD.

A built-in keyboard with oval-shaped buttons that Palm calls 'thumb size' improved input accuracy and removed the need to buy and carry a separate keyboard.

What I noticed first about the C was the ease of setting up Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet and hot-sync with an office PC from so-called wireless hot spots or an 802.11b access point. Wireless synchronizing took about as long as with the desktop cradle.

The Zire 71, on the other hand, was geared toward users who work with multimedia rather than e-mail and calendars. Unlike the Tungsten C, the Zire 71 could play back almost any media file extension, including MP3, AVI and WAV.

It had a smaller memory bank of 16M and a slower, 144-MHz Texas Instruments ARM processor. But it could deliver high-resolution images on the 320-by-320 LCD. The resolution looked great with the Zire's built-in digital camera. Another good point was the easy-to-use, five-way navigation joystick.

Both robust handhelds had equally robust list prices'the Tungsten C at $499 and the Zire 71 at $299. Stay tuned to GCN.com and read our reviews of these and other new personal digital assistants.

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