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Cutting-edge PalmPilot pondered

3Com is keeping mum, but other sources are detailing the defining features for the new handheld, code-named Razor.

    The next-generation PalmPilot is expected to hit stores by the end of 1998, but handheld observers already are citing features slated for the new device.

    The PalmPilot has inspired a religious-like zeal among its users, who are now scouring 3Com's Palm Computing Web sites, newsgroups, and discussion boards for details of the new PDA. Although there have been some differing reports about the features of the upcoming device, most sources have agreed on the new platform's defining features.

    The handheld, code-named Razor, is due out in the last quarter of 1998, probably in November, according to PalmPilot World, a Web site run by PalmPilot developer Mike Doolittle.

    The Razor will be substantially slimmer than existing PalmPilots at around 1/3-inch thick, with a lithium-ion battery that recharges through its holder or "cradle," a British mobile computing Web site reported in an email newsletter outlining the specifications of the new PalmPilot.

    Palm Computing and its parent company, 3Com, declined to comment on the published reports, citing them as "just rumors."

    Other industry sources, however, confirmed that the slimmer Razor platform would indeed be announced later this fall and support better power management and possibly support color displays.

    The Razor also will reportedly include a new and presumably faster Motorola EZ Dragonball processor, an optional keyboard, and access to online information services but no built-in Web browser, according to PalmPilot Web sites.

    In addition, the device will feature a new custom-made LCD (liquid crystal display) that Doolittle is speculating will feature similar technology that will be used in an upcoming Nintendo GameBoy.

    The Nintendo device features a reflective color screen that does not need to be backlit, which Doolittle believes is a perfect match for color-screen PalmPilots. "What we've heard is that the new reflective LCD is more energy-efficient and does not require backlight," said Doolittle. "If Nintendo is coming out with this, than I think the technology is inexpensive enough for PalmPilot," he added.

    Doolittle also is predicting that PalmPilot devices introduced in 1999 will support wireless technology, an upgraded operating system, and a revamped docking station.