New Palms feature Intel chip, camera

The industry leader will launch the latest editions in its Tungsten and Zire product lines this month, and they'll pack features never seen before in a Palm, sources say.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
2 min read
Palm is getting ready to launch two handheld devices, one with built-in wireless and the other with a digital camera, sources say, features that mark company firsts for the industry leader.

The Milpitas, Calif.-based handheld device maker will introduce the latest editions in its Tungsten and Zire product lines toward the end of April, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

The enterprise-focused Tungsten C is expected to be the first Palm handheld to come with built-in 802.11b wireless networking and the first Palm device to use an Intel XScale processor. Targeted at consumers, Palm's new Zire 71 is expected to feature an integrated camera.

Representatives from Palm declined to comment for this story.

The anticipated launches come after a bumpy third quarter for Palm, in which the company saw sales of its handheld dip. In March, it revised its financial guidance for the quarter, ended Feb. 28, to take into account lower-than-anticipated U.S. sales of its high-end Tungsten T handheld. However, the company did report third-quarter revenue of $209 million, at the upper end of analyst estimates.

After Palm cut the price cut of its Tungsten T from $499 to $399 in early February, sales of the device picked up. The Zire and Tungsten W also proved popular among their target consumer and corporate audiences respectively, according to the company. Palm shipped 850,000 Zire units in the third quarter.

Sources say the Tungsten C will be priced at about $500, while the Zire 71 will cost around $300, though this pricing may change in the run-up to release.

The Tungsten C will have the same casing as the $549 Tungsten W with a small keyboard, sources say, but instead of a General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) radio it will come with a wireless networking radio. It is expected to feature a 400MHz Intel XScale processor for handhelds, marking a departure for Palm, which had chosen Texas Instruments as a preferred but nonexclusive supplier of chips. Like the Tungsten T, it will use version 5 of the Palm operating system.

The Zire 71 will also use Palm OS version 5, but will come with a TI processor and 16MB of memory. The device includes Graffiti 2 software for handwriting recognition and input and a built-in camera, which will take VGA-quality images and display them on the color screen. The Zire 71's case will be a new one from Palm.

Speculation about the new devices has been rampant on Web sites for Palm enthusiasts, who have discovered that some online retailers such as Amazon.com apparently jumped the gun in posting limited information online about one or both of the devices.