- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Palm Inc.'s new, $499 Tungsten T hand-held computer is tiny, sleek, stylish, functional and surprising. The first of two new Tungsten devices from Palm (the other, which builds in a wireless phone, will be available later), the Tungsten T is the kind of device users of personal digital assistants, or PDAs, will gravitate toward, and diehard paper-bound planner types will find more difficult to resist.
Unlike some earlier Palm models, the Tungsten T's display is as colorful as anything that would fit in a shirt pocket. The screen's vibrant colors are a delight in many situations, and work as well outdoors as they do indoors. The size is deceptive: slide down the lower panel of control buttons and the familiar "Graffiti" writing area appears; slide up the panel and you have a Lilliputian PDA with Gulliver-sized power.
Standard on the unit is 16 MB of RAM, but there's also an expansion card slot (for SD, or Secure Digital, cards), which can double or triple the memory for not more than $40. Any number of cards could be swapped in and out of the machine, one for office files, another for home items, and so on. The Tungsten T also sports a new Texas Instruments processor, which delivers more computing power while using less electrical power. When used as a standard PDA, Palm estimates the device can go seven days between recharging its lithium-ion battery.
It's the little touches on this new computer that perhaps mean the most. Something that is only four inches tall, three inches wide and 0.6-inches thick (when closed) is little by any standard, yet it doesn't appear underpowered. There are four quick-access buttons to get to one's appointments, addresses, to-do items and the note pad; a five-way navigation button in the center of this row of buttons allows for one-handed operation of many features of the Palm software.
Along with the SD card slot, there's a tiny built-in microphone and record button, to create voice memos that can be replayed (a headset jack is included) or e-mailed. An optional keyboard is also available, which when connected to the Tungsten T turns it into a tiny computer, thanks to a software complement that includes software from DataViz to view, edit and save Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
Those presentations can be displayed from the Tungsten T with a separately sold item from MARGI Systems Inc. that uses the SD card slot to connect the Palm to a portable projector. If Ross Perot had access to these devices in 1992, he might have won the White House.
For me, one of the nicest features of the Tungsten T is that I haven't had to unpack the synchronization cradle to transfer data from my desktop computer to the hand-held. Why? Because the Palm has built Bluetooth wireless communications into the Tungsten T, giving it the ability to hook up with desktop computers, cell phones and printers that also are Bluetooth-equipped.
After a simple setup, I was able to transfer addresses and appointments from an Apple Computer iMac to the Tungsten without a wire in sight. If I had a Bluetooth phone, I could then tell the hand-held unit to dial my boss without pressing a single digit on the phone keypad, or to use the phone to retrieve e-mail from my corporate server.
Is all this worth nearly $500? Some will say yes, others will wait for a price drop. One thing is clear, however, Palm whose fortunes have varied a bit in recent months is definitely taking a higher position with the Tungsten T, a hand-held that shows its mettle in a demanding business environment. Details about the unit should be available online at www.palm.com.
E-mail [email protected] or visit his Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk to him live on Fridays from 5-6 p.m. EST on www.adrenalineradio.com.

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