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.