- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

PORTLAND, Ore. - Your opinion may differ, but I wonder if a good way to look at the new Palm TX, a $299 personal digital assistant with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, is not to view it as a hand-held device.

Yes, the Palm TX will slip into a shirt pocket or purse quite easily. Yes, it can be navigated with a few taps of a stylus. Yes, it has a new version of Documents to Go, the popular DataViz program that lets you read Microsoft Office files on the run.

But at a price just under $300, this isn’t “just” a hand-held computer. Add in a Palm Wireless keyboard and you’ve got, I believe, the makings of a really good notebook computer alternative. At the end of a five-day road trip, the thought of carrying just the Palm TX and a folding keyboard is, frankly, very appealing, at least in concept.

The TX features a very nice, bright, color screen, albeit 320 x 480 pixels. But you can shift the display from portrait to landscape mode, making it easier to view some Web pages and other files.

There’s 128 megabytes (MB) of memory in the unit, or 12.8 times the hard disk size of my first PC with a fixed storage drive. A SecureDigital card slot can ramp up the memory by as much as two gigabytes, more than enough for most purposes.

To be anything close to a notebook replacement, the wireless keyboard, which will set you back an extra $70, is essential.

This foldout keyboard communicates via the infrared port on the Palm TX, and can swivel to handle either display mode.

It’s not a true desktop replacement, of course, but in earlier use I found myself able to adjust without too much difficulty.

In performance, the Palm TX is a very fast little computer, given its 312-megahertz processor.

Sitting at the Portland airport, it was up and running on the free (bless ‘em!) Wi-Fi network long before my Apple PowerBook had booted and connected. Part of this, of course, is a function of the notebook computer’s greater sophistication. But if I were anxious to check e-mail on the run, the Palm TX would be my tool of choice.

Palm said it is paying attention to multimedia as well, offering a version of MobiTV, which the firm said “allows users to view a wide range of television programs, including news, sports and entertainment” on the device. I didn’t have the chance to try this out, but a music video played quite nicely in the horizontal, or landscape mode. It may not eclipse the new Apple IPods, which offer video playback, but the Palm TX video capability is quite nice.

Try as I might, I can’t find any great negatives in the Palm TX. One might hope for more internal memory, but, again, compared with its predecessors, it’s not a bad value for the money. The unit is ultra-slim, very light and easy to carry, which is worth something in and of itself.

One very important “plus” of the current Palm hand-held platform is its compatibility with Apple Macintosh computers, as well as Microsoft Windows systems. The Mac market may not be huge, but its users deserve a good hand-held device, too, and Palm offers that.

There are a lot of people who believe the “day” of the hand-held PDA is past, as the technology is merging with cell phones.

But I can still see a place for the Palm TX in many situations, especially for the road warrior who wants to escape the weight and heft of a notebook PC for such “mundane” applications as simple Web browsing, e-mail and document work.

More information is available at www.palm.com. The firm also has released a $99, full-color, Z22 hand-held, with 32 MB of RAM, that should appeal to many people who want a basic PDA.

E-mail [email protected] or visit https://www.kellner.us.



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