Treo, Sharp mobile tech rise above pack

Among the usual offerings of handhelds and notebooks at last month's Comdex show, palmOne Inc.'s Treo and Sharp Electronics Corp.'s Actius RD3D stood out in the crowd.

The Treo 600 smart phone is leagues ahead of previous Treo handheld models. Sharp's 3-D notebook takes mobile computing into another dimension.

Treo 600 smart phone

Treo's previous claim to fame was its ability to function as an organizer, to browse the Web and to act as a phone all in one device. But the former design, with its flip-open lid, was bulky. Enter the Treo 600, a pocket-sized, streamlined device that reaches beyond anything the company has made so far.

This handheld could be called a five-o. It's a combination phone, PalmSource Inc. Palm organizer, wireless e-mail and messaging device, Web browser and camera. The device looks like a personal digital assistant (PDA) molded into the size and shape of a wireless phone. It features standard PDA navigation buttons, a thumb keyboard and a color screen. There is no flip cover and an earpiece is not necessary when using the device as a phone — simply hold the entire unit up to your ear and speak. Or, if you prefer, use the speakerphone feature.

Two versions of the device are available, one with General Packet Radio Services (GPRS)/Global System for Mobile Communications phone connectivity and the other with Code Division Multiple Access. The GPRS version can be used worldwide and comes with features such as six-way calling, call history, caller ID and call waiting. You can also assign unique ring tones and even pictures to individuals in your contact list.

Messaging includes connectivity to corporate and personal e-mail accounts and Short Message Service (SMS) capability. You can snap photos and send them to e-mail addresses and other wireless phones with the device's Multimedia Messaging Service.

The Treo 600 runs the latest Palm operating system and comes with a USB HotSync cable and infrared information-beaming capabilities.

The device's Blazer Web browser allows access to almost any Web site, including those not optimized for handhelds. The browser supports multiple Web and wireless standards, including HTML 4.0, Extensible HTML Basic and Mobile Profile, Wireless Markup Language 1.3, Compact HTML (i-mode), several image formats and JavaScript. Wireless transactions are secured with 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer encryption. The Secure Digital (SD)/MultiMediaCard expansion slot accepts cards that can contain content, memory or additional functionality, such as Bluetooth.

Palm Inc. and Handspring Inc. recently merged to form palmOne. The company's Web site lists the Treo 600 with a starting price of $599, although it costs less when bundled with wireless service plans. For more information, visit www.handspring.com.

Actius RD3D

According to Sharp officials, the Actius RD3D is the world's first 3-D notebook. The images on the 15-inch LCD screen reach out and grab you, or at least they look like they could.

Sharp officials developed the technology jointly with Sharp Laboratories Europe Ltd. In simple terms, the light from the LCD is divided so that each of a viewer's eyes sees a different pattern or image without the use of goggles. When the user is centered in front of the display, the patterns align so the brain can process them correctly and create a 3-D image.

Don't move too much when viewing images in 3-D mode or else you'll see double, but when positioned just right, this display is amazing.

Federal applications include medical and molecular modeling, flight simulation and data modeling.

When using the notebook, users can easily switch between 3-D and 2-D modes by pressing a button, and opening certain applications will trigger 3-D mode automatically. You can even read text while in 3-D mode.

The graphics are powered by an nVidia Corp. GeForce 4 440 Go graphics processing unit with 64M of dedicated graphics memory. Notebook specifications include a 2.8 GHz Intel Corp. Pentium 4 processor, 512M of memory expandable to 1,024M and a 60G hard drive. The DVD multidrive, which is a combination DVD-R/RW/RAM and CD-R/RW, allows the notebook to view 3-D DVD content. The system also supports memory sticks, SD cards, SmartMedia cards and CompactFlash cards.

The Actius RD3D sells for an estimated street price of $3,299. For more information, visit www.sharp3D.com.

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