Palm IIIc adds color

Handheld computing got a lot more convenient — and colorful — when Palm

Inc. last week introduced the Palm IIIc, the first in its line of handheld

computers to include a color display.

The best part is that Palm — a 3Com Corp. company — hasn't had to compromise

other features — most notably battery life — to accommodate color. The Palm

IIIc also sports an enhanced operating system, rechargeable battery and

other new features that raise the bar for convenience in handheld computers.

The 8-bit, 256-color thin film transistor (TFT) display is easier on

the eye than monochrome displays and has the added benefit of increased

functionality. For example, if two conflicting events are entered in the

Datebook, the Day View shows the overlapping conflict bars in red. The screen

is easy to read even under fluorescent light and can be viewed from a variety

of angles. The only real drawback is the minor glare inherent with all touchscreens.

The Palm IIIc uses the new Palm operating system, Palm OS Version 3.5,

which features several enhancements:

* The menus are now tappable. To open drop-down menus, you can just

tap on the menu text at the top left corner of the screen in any application.

Different menu options are available depending on where you are in the application.

Menus still are accessible by tapping on the menu button at the bottom of

the screen.

* Navigating and managing the system is easier. For example, a new function

called the Agenda View has been added to the Date Book application. This

new view allows you to see your schedule and to-do list at the same time

for easier task management.

* A command bar feature allows quick access to context-sensitive functions

such as copy, paste and delete. Simply write a forward slash in the Palm's

onscreen writing area to make the command bar appear. Different menu options

appear on the command bar depending on the application and context.

* Security is improved in the form of a new masking feature. Unlike

hidden records, which are completely invisible, masked records appear on

the screen as a gray bar with a padlock icon next to them. This helps users

keep track of records' existence and location.

* You can duplicate address book records with one tap for easy creation

of similar records. The new record is marked as a copy, and you can easily

change appropriate information.

* You can use the infrared port to beam all the records in the Address

Book, To Do List or Memo Pad to another Palm device at once, rather than

having to beam each record individually.

The Palm IIIc also features two HotSync improvements. (The HotSync function

synchronizes data between the handheld and the Palm desktop software on

a PC.):

* It has higher data transmission rates for faster synchronization.

* The infrared port can be used to HotSync without docking the device

in its cradle.

In addition to the software improvements, Palm has made some significant

hardware changes. The Palm IIIc features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery

that officials said lasts about two weeks with normal use. The battery automatically

recharges whenever the device is in the cradle, so most users won't have

to think about the charging process. The lithium-ion battery is convenient

and is a nice improvement over previous Palm devices, which use standard

AA batteries.

With the increased memory capacity of the Palm IIIc, users can store

years of appointments and thousands of addresses as well as run more applications.

The unit has 8M of memory, compared with 4M in the other Palm devices. The

memory is software-upgradable, making the Palm IIIc compatible with future

Palm OS upgrades and enhancements.

Also, because its design is based on the Palm III, the Palm IIIc maintains

compatibility with snap-on accessories that are currently available.

MORE INFO

Palm IIIc - A

Palm Inc., a 3Com Corp. company

(408) 326-9000

www.palm.com

Price and Availability: The Palm IIIc's estimated retail price is $449. It will be availableon the General Services Administration schedule from CompUSA, GE CapitalIT Solutions, CDW-G Inc. and GTSI. (Reseller prices may vary slightly.)

Remarks: Palm Inc. has delivered a great new device, and it's more than justa pretty color screen. Valuable enhancements include an improved operatingsystem, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, twice as much memory and fastersynchronization.

A sampling of new Palm accessories

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