Palm, Inc. last week released a trio of handheld devices, available immediately. At the high end, the Palm Tungsten T3 features a 320 by 480 color screen, which can display data vertically or rotated horizontally (good for reading electronic books or working with spreadsheets using the included DataViz Documents to Go software). Like the Tungsten T and T2 models, the T3 case features a lower section that slides down to reveal Graffiti-writing area (see "Tungsten T Marks New Beginning for Palm" in TidBITS-655); however, the T3 is the first device from Palm to incorporate the handwriting recognition area in software - tapping a small icon makes the area disappear to view more data. The $400 Tungsten T3 includes 64 MB of memory, a speedy 400 MHz Intel XScale processor, an expansion card slot, and Bluetooth wireless networking.
Occupying the middle ground is the sleek Tungsten E, the spiritual descendent of the popular Palm V. The E is lighter and thinner than the Tungsten T series, and comes with a high-resolution (320 by 320) color screen, 32 MB of memory, a 126 MHz ARM processor, and an expansion card slot. Unlike the T3, the Graffiti area is the traditional silkscreened section of the screen. However, the Tungsten E is aggressively priced at $200.
Aimed at users who are either cost conscious or simply don't need much more than a basic handheld organizer, the Zire 21 is a bare-bones system featuring a 160 by 160 grayscale screen (without a backlight), 8 MB of memory, and a 126 MHz ARM processor. The Zire 21 costs $100; the original Zire, which features 2 MB of memory and a slower processor, is now available for $80.
In addition to introducing new hardware, Palm has finally updated some of the core Palm OS applications - and given them a name change as well, with Date Book becoming Calendar, Address Book becoming Contacts, the To Do List becoming Tasks, and Memo Pad becoming Memos. The Contacts application now supports multiple addresses and more fields, including a Birthday field that adds the date to the Calendar. Events can be categorized, and categories can be color-coded. And, at long last, you can create Memos that are longer than 4K. The software improvements apply only to the Tungsten T3 and Tungsten E, however; there is no upgrade path for owners of previous models to take advantage of the new features.
This sort of terminology change drives writers like me crazy. The third edition of my book Palm Organizers: Visual QuickStart Guide is now being printed, so I'll be publishing a free downloadable PDF update that covers these changes at the companion Web site linked below, shortly after the book appears in bookstores.