Palm m500 review: Palm m500

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Expansion card slot; fast processor; vibrating alarm.

The Bad Lacks innovative features to warrant its price; no expansion card in the box.

The Bottom Line The m500 offers some nice refinements, but the older Palm Vx is a better value for those who don't need the expansion card slot.

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Palm fans have been waiting impatiently to see the company's answer to the innovative new PDAs from Handspring, Compaq, and others. But while Palm's latest model, the m500, offers an expansion card slot and a smattering of nice refinements, it lacks the sort of innovation we had hoped for. In fact, with the m500's predecessor, the Palm Vx, for sale at discounted prices, smart shoppers will likely find themselves choosing between the older Palm model and the flashy newer models from other manufacturers. Palm fans have been waiting impatiently to see the company's answer to the innovative new PDAs from Handspring, Compaq, and others. But while Palm's latest model, the m500, offers an expansion card slot and a smattering of nice refinements, it lacks the sort of innovation we had hoped for. In fact, with the m500's predecessor, the Palm Vx, for sale at discounted prices, smart shoppers will likely find themselves choosing between the older Palm model and the flashy newer models from other manufacturers.

Sophisticated looks
With its elegant, brushed-aluminum case, the m500 looks nearly identical to the Vx, although it's a hair shorter and wider. Inside is a 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor. On the Quartus benchmark test, the m500 did not fare well. However, that may be due to an incompatibility between the application and the new Palm OS 4. The m500 is as fast as or faster than the Handspring Visor Edge when searching for words and playing the first level of the game Dreadling. But Dreadling, too, is incompatible with OS 4 and crashes after one level.

Along the top of the m500, there's a slot that accepts either MultiMedia Cards or Secure Digital cards, though Palm includes only a dummy card in the package. These cards are a handy way to bring big databases with you, including city guides or the Physician's Desk Reference. But many people will find that the provided 8MB of internal storage is more than enough room for contacts, calendar, and some extra applications. For many apps, you won't even notice that the PDA automatically copies the file from the card to the RAM to run, then automatically deletes the file when you close it. In addition to the card slot, we have seen prototype wireless modems and digital cameras that attach to the connector on the bottom of the m500. If such prototypes become real products, the ability to simultaneously attach both an add-on and a card could be useful.

The m500's monochrome screen is less green than that of the Vx and has a digitizer made of plastic instead of glass (the digitizer sits on top of the LCD and recognizes the taps of the stylus). According to Palm, the plastic version is more flexible and less likely to crack if you accidentally drop your Palm.

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Where to Buy

Palm m500

Part Number: P80800ROW

MSRP: $329.00

See manufacturer website for availability.