When Palm released its in May, we were thrilled that the company finally integrated Wi-Fi into one of its PDAs. Unfortunately, when we saw the wallet-stretching price tag, the celebration was short lived. Now, it appears we can put our party hats back on, because the new Palm TX offers a more affordable solution ($299) that should please a wide range of users, both professional and casual. Aside from built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the TX crams a long list of features and solid performance into a sleek package that can go head-to-head with its Pocket PC counterparts, such as the Dell Axim X51 and the . In other Palm news, the company dropped the price of its to $199, so if you don't need Wi-Fi, the E2 is a good option. With the exception of the color scheme, the Palm TX largely resembles the and the in design. Rather than the classic metallic silver chassis, the TX sports a chic midnight blue coloring that can easily pass as black. In addition, the solid-feeling PDA is sleek and compact--4.7 by 3.0 by 0.6 inches and 5.2 ounces--and should have no problem slipping into your bag or coat pocket. Palm does package the device with a flip cover that attaches on the left spine to protect the screen and outer face from scratches, but if you want complete protection, we suggest you invest in a full-size case. Besides, once you take a look at the TX's gorgeous screen, we suspect you'll want to do everything to keep it that way.
The Palm TX's spacious 4-inch-diagonal display supports more than 65,000 colors and a 320x480-pixel resolution. Text and images are sharp and crisp, and you can even customize the PDA with a number of color themes. As with the Tungsten T5, there is a toolbar along the bottom edge of the screen, where you can switch between landscape and portrait mode, bring up the virtual keyboard, and turn on the wireless radio with a tap of the button, among other things. One-touch access to Home/Favorites, Calendar, Contacts, and Web is also available through the four shortcut keys below the screen. The five-way navigation toggle sits in between this quartet. Overall, the layout is spacious, and all buttons are tactile.
On top of the Palm TX are an SDIO/MMC expansion slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a power button, and a stylus holder. To sync with your PC or Mac, you can use the included multiconnector USB cable, which plugs into the bottom of the PDA. The connector for the AC adapter sits immediately to the right of the USB port; this made for a tight fit when both connectors were plugged in. If you ever need to reset your device, you can do so by pressing the button on the back of the device with a paper clip or a sharp point. Unfortunately, the battery is not user-replaceable.
Palm includes enough of the basics to get you going right out of the box. Aside from the aforementioned flip cover, AC adapter, and USB cable, you get a user guide and an installation CD loaded with an interactive tutorial and various software. Palm will offer a number of optional accessories, including Bluetooth-enabled goodies, such as a Bluetooth GPS navigation system and Palm's Universal Wireless Keyboard.The Palm TX is well appointed in the features department. Under the hood, the TX is powered by a 312MHz Bulverde Intel processor and comes with 128MB of nonvolatile flash memory, 100MB of which is user-accessible. Not only is the amount of memory sufficient for copious numbers of contacts, appointments, and other PIM data, but you're also guarded from losing all your data if your PDA happens to run out of juice. A word to the wise: Multimedia files, such as MP3s and video clips, take up a lot of memory, so we recommend investing in a memory card or two to carry such files. The TX's expansion slot accepts up to 2GB SD cards.
Palm may have been late to join the Wi-Fi game, but we're glad it at least showed up. Even better, connecting to the Web with the TX is fast and easy. It found our test access point right away (you can also enter encryption settings for enhanced security), and after a couple of clicks, we were surfing the Web within a matter of seconds. Web pages loaded fairly quickly for a PDA, although more graphics-intensive sites took more time to upload, naturally. We also checked our Web-based Yahoo and Hotmail e-mail accounts. In addition, you can take advantage of the built-in Wi-Fi in a couple of other ways. A free service called Avvenu gives you remote access to your computer at work or home and allows you to share content with others and upload data. Although it's free, you'll need to download the Avvenu Agent to your computer before setting passwords and security options. For a more entertaining option, you can subscribe to MobiTV (check the company's Web site for subscription rates) to watch live TV right on your handheld. You can access up to 10 channels, from ESPN to MSNBC to the Discovery Channel, running at 24fps. Clearly, such tools can benefit the mobile professional, as will the built-in Bluetooth. We paired the Palm TX with the Bluetooth-enabled Dell Axim X51v and transferred contacts and appointments between the devices successfully.
On the software front, the Palm TX runs Palm OS 5.4 and includes DataViz's Documents To Go 7 and VersaMail 3.1, arming mobile professionals with the tools to work on the go. With Documents To Go, you can view and edit native Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which is viewable only on Macs, while VersaMail 3.1 delivers your e-mail with support for up to eight e-mail accounts (POP, IMAP, APOP, or ESMTP). VersaMail also works with Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, so with the help of your friendly IT department, you can connect directly to your company's Exchange server. Palm throws in a few other goodies, such as an expense program, a dialer, Solitaire, a world clock, and a calculator.
Now, let's have some fun, shall we? To fulfill your entertainment jones, the Palm TX comes equipped with Pocket Tunes for listening to your favorite tunes, as well as podcasts. Pocket Tunes supports MP3, WMA (requires Deluxe edition), PCM WAV, and Ogg Vorbis music files. You can create and edit play lists, shuffle songs, and customize the look of your player with different skins. One of our favorite tricks was to use Pocket Tunes for setting music as background while we displayed a slide show of our photos. It's a cool way to show off your latest snapshots with friends and family, but it's also great for mobile professionals who want to share relevant images with clients and coworkers.The Palm TX performs quite well, thanks in part to the 312MHz Intel processor. There was only the slightest pause when we switched between applications; it was a noticeable improvement from the sometimes-sluggish performance of the Tungsten E2. Video playback and music playback were clean and smooth, and we were impressed by the sound quality and volume levels of the handheld.
As with the most recent batch of Palm PDAs, battery life for the TX was good. In CNET Labs' tests, where we looped a video clip using Kinoma Video Player and set the screen at 50 percent brightness, the PDA ran out of juice after 4.5 hours. This isn't bad, but the results did fall behind those of the Tungsten T5 and Tungsten E2. Playing music on a repeated loop, the Palm TX lasted a longer 10 hours.