The rumor mill kicks into overdrive whenever a new handheld gears up to hit the market, grinding the grist of blog-based guesswork into speculation. So while everyone knew that the PalmOne Tungsten E2 was imminent, this cat is finally out of the bag, and he's bringing all the final details with him. As the successor to and the replacement for the popular (according to the company, the top-selling PDA across all price points for the past 17 months), the Tungsten E2 boasts the same sleek and compact form factor as its older sibling but ups the ante with performance-enhancing features, such as an updated OS and a brighter color screen. Factor in impressive battery life and an affordable $249 price tag, and PalmOne has another winner on its hands. Unless you need a powerhouse PDA with integrated Wi-Fi and a faster processor, the Tungsten E2 should do the trick for any home user or mobile pro. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So we're glad to see that PalmOne didn't mess with the Tungsten E2's design. Like its predecessor, the Tungsten E2 sports a sleek and compact form factor, though it adds just a hair more weight and depth (4.5 by 3.1 by 0.6 inches; 4.7 ounces). An attractive dark-silver finish wraps up the package, although you'll need to keep a chamois on hand with this machine; we noticed its tendency to hold fingerprints and smudges. Still, the E2 is a sophisticated beast and appropriate for any boardroom--a far cry from its similarly priced and featured cousin, the , which has a more colorful and playful look.
The E2's improved 3.7-inch-diagonal TFT color screen shines brightly, taking center stage. While it keeps the 320x320-pixel resolution of the Tungsten E, the new PalmOne now displays 65,536 colors instead of 64,000, and the difference is noticeable. Everything looks sharper, a little brighter, and a little more vivid, and it's readable even in direct sunlight. Just below the screen is a virtual input area with one-touch access to the Home page, with Menu on the left side, while Favorites and a search function sit on the right. Unlike the, however, there's no handy taskbar along the bottom to quickly launch other applications or to switch the screen to Landscape mode. You do, however, get four standard customizable shortcut keys (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notepad, by default) and a five-way navigation toggle. The keys are spacious, though set deeper within the case, rather than slightly raised above the surface, so they require a little effort to press--not a deal breaker but something to be aware of.
On top of the device, you'll find an SDIO/MMC expansion slot, a power button, a 3.5mm headphone jack that accepts Walkman-style headphones, and an infrared port. There's a stylus holder on the right, and as with the T5, the stylus is elegant and sturdy like a fine fountain pen, as opposed to the dinky, plastic variety.
Like all the new PalmOne devices, the Tungsten E2 now uses a multiconnector USB cable with one-button HotSync operation. Extras are sparse; there is no desktop cradle included in the box ($50 optional), but it comes with a faux leather flip cover, which slides into a slot on the left side, and a power adapter. With the added Bluetooth technology, you can take advantage of other accessories, such as keyboards and GPS receivers.