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Palm IIIe SE and Palm Vx SE

Two new Palms for opposite ends of the price spectrum

Updated Feb 1, 2000

Palm's two newest offerings were finally made available to us here at Pen Computing, and there are a few things of interest to report. Both are Special Editions, and are actually quite beautiful, so they definitely have that in common. But they're aimed at very different kinds of customers.

Palm IIIe SE

The Palm IIIe SE is identical to the Palm IIIe, only the SE version is clear, with a black cradle, buttons, and pen. The combination makes for the most attractive Palm III style casing I've seen. Combined with a Palm Colour Kit (spelled the English way for no apparent reason), the IIIe SE can be a fun fashion statement. The "Colour Kit" includes three covers to replace the clear cover that comes with the IIIe SE, one dark blue, one light blue, and one yellow. Also included in the kit are three black plastic pens and three sets of graffiti stickers, though these are the standard gray color. I have to say I like the Palm IIIe SE color combinations better than the Handspring Visor colors. Very snappy, especially with the contrasting black logo.

The Palm IIIe, color aside, is a basic Palm, running OS 3.1. To keep the price of this unit down, they burned the OS on a non-flashable ROM, so the OS can only be patched, not upgraded like most other units in the Palm line. Also, there is no slot for adding memory upgrade or pager cards. This is a unit that can be taken at face value: it stores your data, and can run any software written for the Palm. It supports 16 gray scales, runs the Motorola DragonBall EZ, but it is mysteriously one tick slower than a Palm IIIx. While the IIIx is the benchmark standard at 100%, the Palm IIIe scores 99%. It may be the memory they've used, or something to do with the simplified architecture allowed by removing the flash ROM or upgrade slot.

Regardless, it will do everything most people do with their Palm Computers, including work with a modem to download email, or any of the other numerous attachments for the PalmPilot and Palm III. At US$179, it will doubtless attract some users who couldn't see above the admittedly high US$350 mark.

Palm Vx SE

Now for the users who look down on the US$179 mark, there's the new Palm Vx SE. I haven't seen it called SE often, but it is supposedly a Special Edition. The Vx is enhanced in several ways. It has 8MB of RAM to start with--six more megabytes than the Palm V--and it goes for the same price as the V did when it arrived. But there's more. It runs on the speediest processor currently available, the 20MHz version of the DragonBall (all previous Palms ran at 16MHz). And it is the first of the Palms to ship with Palm OS 3.3, with its many enhancements, not the least of which is faster HotSync speed. An earlier version of this review caused confusion about whether the Vx had Flash ROM, but rest assured, it does indeed have Flash ROM and its software is indeed upgradeable.

Alas, there's nothing to help you tell the Palm V from the Vx, except for the silkscreened "Palm Vx" on the back of the unit. Point for point, however, this is the way the Palm V should have been. Excellent storage, excellent speed, excellent screen, excellent look. It's just really good. Just mere months ago, people were spending around US$250 to get their Palm Vs cut apart and upgraded, and now you can have it all for US$449--well, that's the way it should have been done in the first place.

-Shawn Barnett

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