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Palm m515 review:

Palm m515

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MSRP: $299.00
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The Good Supercompact design; bright, active-matrix color screen; expansion slot for adding more memory.

The Bad Screen isn't high resolution.

The Bottom Line The Palm m515has a lot going for it, but it lacks a clear competitive advantage over Sony's high-end CLIEs.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 7.0

Better late than never is an axiom that certainly applies to the Palm m515, the model that replaces the flawed m505. This handheld has the screen that everyone was looking for in its predecessor, adds more memory, keeps the same sleek design, and maintains an identical price. That's all good, and so is the m515. The only problem is that the competition has raised its game in the six months that it took Palm to release this model. Palm lovers once fantasized about what their perfect PDA would be like: a Palm V with a color screen and a slot for adding more memory. The m515 is just that; it looks a lot like the Palm V and shares similar buttons and a comparable layout, though it's a tad heftier at 4.9 ounces. Some newer Palm-OS based devices have scroll wheels and built-in keyboards, but this model keeps things simple. Say what you will about the m515, but its classic, metallic finish makes it one of the slicker PDAs around.

Good deal: The Palm is a full deck.Slim is in. The m515 is thinner than a pack of cards.


In terms of accessories, you get a detachable, leather flip cover that's reminiscent of the Palm V's. Palm also includes a power adapter as well as a USB docking cradle for recharging the device and connecting it to your PC or your Mac--no complaints here.

Fully loaded: The m515 includes all the extras.The m515 has the same universal connector as the m130.
Like other Palms of its generation, the m515 has a 33MHz DragonBall VZ processor at its core. It also comes with the Palm 4.1 OS, which supports USB connectivity. In addition, the OS sports several enhancements, including vibrate and flash alerts and the ability to write Graffiti simultaneously while using the virtual keyboard.



Ready to deliver: Add extras via an MMC or an SD card.

Like its sibling, this model has 4MB of flash ROM for upgrading the OS in the future and a small slot on back for adding postage-stamp-sized MultiMedia Memory (MMC) and Secure Digital (SD) cards. On the bottom of the unit, you'll find a Palm Universal Connector, which allows you to connect such add-on accessories as modems, cameras, and GPS receivers. Really, the only major differences from the m505 are the addition of 8MB of RAM (16MB total) for storing more data and third-party applications and a better, brighter screen that can be adjusted to display at low, high, or no brightness levels with a tap of the stylus.

In addition to the signature applications--such as Address Book, Calendar, and Expense--Palm throws in some bonuses. You get Palm Mobile Connectivity software for connecting your handheld to your cell phone in order to access the Internet; DataViz Documents To Go Professional Edition for viewing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files; MGI PhotoSuite Mobile Edition; Palm Reader; and AvantGo Mobile Internet Service. Palm Desktop 4.0.1 (version 2.6.3 for Mac) and conduit software to sync with Microsoft Outlook are also included.


Make a go of it: Get business done on the road with the Professional Edition of Documents To Go.Ports of call: Connect your cell phone for dial-up access to the Internet.
To test performance, we installed PhotoSuite Mobile Edition, which comes with some sample photos and a handful of short, decent-looking, smooth-running video clips. But since the m515 can't play sound, you'll be stuck watching silent movies. We also tried the Palm version of Serious Sam, a first-person shooting game. It, too, ran without a hitch and was impressive enough, though the high-resolution graphics that we've seen from some Pocket PC games look better.



Good view: The m515's screen is brighter than the m505's.

As far as the screen goes, it's a 160x160-pixel, active-matrix, 16-bit LCD that supports 65,000 colors. The display's reflective qualities allow you to view it in a wide variety of lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. However, unlike the m505's screen--which we knocked for being too dim, particularly under normal indoor lighting conditions--the m515's is plenty bright. Clearly, though, the high-resolution screens found on Sony's CLIEs are superior to that of the m515.

As one might expect, the brighter display comes at a cost: battery life. Palm says that you can get about one week of power before having to recharge the built-in lithium-ion battery. However, the company doesn't specify whether that's with the low or high brightness setting. With normal use--40 minutes per day--on the brightest setting, we had to recharge at the end of the fourth day.

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