Palm Tungsten E2 handheld review:

Palm Tungsten E2 handheld

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.

PalmOne wasn't shy when dishing out the upgrades to last year's Tungsten E. Building on that solid foundation, the Tungsten E2 is powered by a faster 200MHz Intel XScale processor and comes with 32MB of nonvolatile flash memory, 26MB of which is user-accessible. The latter is important: it preserves your precious data if your PDA decides to call it quits, and it increases the battery life in the same breath. This amount of memory will provide you plenty of storage for your PIM needs, but you'd better stock up on a memory card or two for storing music and videos.

Load up a memory card with music and video to get your entertainment fix.

Integrated Bluetooth also makes a debut with the PalmOne Tungsten E2, letting you Web cruisers, e-mail addicts, and mobile professionals make the most of your time on the road. There's a Bluetooth utility to turn on the radio and to set up compatible devices. We were able to connect to a Bluetooth-enabled Pocket PC and wirelessly beam contact information with no problem. Alas, there's no built-in Wi-Fi on the E2, but we're not quick to criticize this omission. Although there's no excuse for the lack of Wi-Fi on the Tungsten T5, the E2 is more of an entry- to midlevel gadget. If you still crave Wi-Fi, PalmOne says it will update the driver to its Wi-Fi card in May to support the E2, and the price will drop to $99. Another item worth noting: the E2 battery isn't user-replaceable. And once again, we're disappointed by the E2's lack of a voice recorder--generally a must-have in a business-friendly device.

On the software front, the E2 gets an upgrade to Palm OS 5.4, which includes DataViz's Documents To Go 7.0, though there's still no sign of Palm OS 6.0. The latest edition supports native Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (view-only on Macs) so that you can view and edit documents on the go. In addition, the program boasts an improved user interface and supports active Web links in Word documents. Also new to the E2 is the Favorites view, first introduced in the Tungsten T5. This gives you quick access to your most frequently used applications and files (up to 32), including Web links, while the traditional Applications view displays all the programs on your handheld. Other software goodies include Acrobat Reader, SplashMoney, Web Blazer 4.0, and Memos. And when you feel like a little break, you have RealPlayer for MP3 playback, Kinoma Player for videos, PalmReader for e-books, and of course, Solitaire for amusement.

Overall, the PalmOne Tungsten E2 provided outstanding, though not perfect, performance in our tests. We'll get the bad news out of the way first. Although the company ramped up the device with a 200MHz Intel XScale processor, we experienced small but noticeable delays when switching screens and programs. On the other hand, video performance was smooth, and MP3s sounded loud and clear, with and without headphones and even in noisy environments.

The big news here is the outstanding battery life. For CNET Labs' test, we looped a video clip using Kinoma Video player and set the screen at 50 percent brightness. As a result, the new, larger cell ran out of steam after an impressive 5.5 hours--2 hours longer than the Tungsten E. But we were most anxious to test out the company's claim of 10 to 12 hours of MP3 playback--and the E2 delivered with an astounding 11 hours. This is in tune with some of today's top MP3 players and almost on a par with the Apple iPod. It's certainly the best time we've seen to date on a PDA, leaving one CNET editor wondering when she would be relieved of battery-watching duty.

What you'll pay

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