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Palm drops Zire, Tungsten names

PDA maker rebrands and revamps its entry-level handhelds to include color screens and Wi-Fi capabilities. Photos: Palm grabs TX handheld

Palm updated its Zire and Tungsten handheld devices on Wednesday as part of a rebranding strategy that will now emphasize its Palm name over all others.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PDA maker said its new handheld organizers, dubbed Z22 and TX, are available now on its online site as well as at some retail locations. Priced at $99 and $299, respectively, Palm is positioning the handhelds to sell to consumers looking for an easy entry into the PDA culture.

"Now that we own the Palm brand again, we are more focused on promoting it. People know us more for Palm than they do for Tungsten or Zire," Palm product line manager Raj Doshi said.

Palm will keep the LifeDrive and Treo names but will refer to it as the Palm LifeDrive and Palm Treo, Doshi said.

One of the main improvements for the TX is that it includes Wi-Fi access, making it only the third Palm device to do so. The first was the Tungsten C, which originally launched in April 2003, followed by Palm's LifeDrive, which debuted this summer. Palm is partnering with T-Mobile for a free 30-day subscription to entice first-time users.

The TX runs on an Intel XScale 312MHz processor and also has Bluetooth capabilities. The device also has the option to access your files from your PC via third-party servers from Avvenu as well as multimedia file viewing from the MobiTV service.

Doshi said Palm is comparing the attributes of the TX along the same lines as Hewlett-Packard's rx1950, priced at $299, and Dell's X51, priced at $399 before rebates.

The Z22 replaces the Zire 21 as the least expensive Palm device. Now with an Intel processor and a color screen, the Z22 weighs a little more than 3 ounces and is about the same size as a deck of playing cards.

The new Z22 also runs on Palm OS version 5.4.9 (also known as Garnet) instead of the previous 5.2.8 version.

The company also reduced the price of the Tungsten E2 handheld by $50 to now retail at $199.

Palm's recent decision to use Windows Mobile software will not extend to the Zire or Tungsten lines--at least not in the near future, Doshi said.

"Everything we want to run on the Z22 and TX can run on Garnet, so that is just fine for us," Doshi said, noting that Palm has extended its partnership with PalmSource until 2010.

But the company is expected to look hard at the next version of the Palm OS, which is expected to include code from the Linux kernel as Palm OS purveyor PalmSource is currently in negotiations to be acquired by Japan's Access.