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March 19, 2001
Hot new Palm m500 series revealed

Palm has unveiled its long anticipated upgrade to the extremely popular Palm V. Sure to shake up the PDA industry, the new devices actually manage to improve upon the elegant and beautiful Palm V that they replace. It is available in two models: the monochrome m500, which will ship in April, and the 64K color m505, expected in May.

Though it occupies roughly the same space as the Palm V, it is replete with new features. Foremost among those features, as illustrated at right, is the SD (Secure Digital) slot, which will accept SD memory cards as well as SD I/O cards, such as GPS, camera, and Bluetooth modules. Though the slot is very small, it can support up to seven separate functions. As electronics continue to shrink, expect this slot to expand the m500's capabilities for several years.

The m500s also have a USB/serial HotSync port, bringing the Palm line up to speed with the Handspring Visor and Sony CLIE. Palm has added a significant advantage, however, since their port is specially designed to accept add-on peripherals that secure much better than sleds on the original Palm V. There are two hook points on the back of the unit, and two left and right of the HotSync port, making for excellent contact and easy release of sleds. This means that you can have your Novatel Minstrel m500 attached so that it can download maps for the GPS you have in the SD slot, for example.

The screen on the m505 is a 160 x 160 64K color reflective design, much like the screen on the Compaq iPaq, which means that unlike other color screens it actually gets better out in the sunlight. For indoor use it is sidelit, again like the iPaq. Unlike the iPaq, its 64K colors promise excellent color range.

The design has been slightly recurved, and the buttons are redesigned, finally recessing the scroll buttons on the front. As on the m100, the Memo Pad button is replaced with the Note Pad button. There are new alarms, including a flashing light in the power button and a vibrate feature. Since I have only been able to hold the unit as of press time, I encourage you to look up the full review when it's available.

My initial impression is that the m500 series is going to be wildly popular. From what I've seen, it's pretty slick. Questions? Comments?

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