Palm Tungsten W
1 April 2005 | 0
People call PDA/mobile phone hybrids smartphones for a reason: you have to be smart to use them. That’s certainly the case with the Palm Tungsten W.
A glance at the feature map in this device’s manual reveals that this is not a simple handheld operated by the Palm OS: the Tungsten W manual identifies 15 callouts for buttons and icons. If you’re in the market for this type of device, however, this model is worth a look.
With its built-in thumb keyboard (a first for Palm) and its bright, 320-by-320-pixel colour screen, the 699 Tungsten W is certainly a pleasure to use. Whether you’re a Palm veteran or a neophyte, you’ll need some time to find your way around, but once you do, navigating becomes routine. What distinguishes the Tungsten W from other Palms is its communications capabilities. Using Vodafone’s or O2’s GSM/GPRS network, it can handle e-mail, wireless instant messaging, Web browsing, and a full complement of phone features (including caller ID, call waiting, and six-way conference calls). The Tungsten W’s rechargeable lithium ion/polymer battery supported a full 10 hours of talk and more than 200 hours of standby.
Unfortunately, to use the Tungsten W as a phone, you must connect an uncomfortable Palm-supplied earpiece (there is no built-in or external speaker); and on the review model, this proved to be inconvenient. By the time we connected the earpiece and untangled its cord, incoming calls had been missed on numerous occasions. (A Palm Audio Flip Cover, with built-in mike and speaker, should be available in June.) As for Web browsing, unless you view one of few sites that have been enhanced for the Palm screen, pages resize awkwardly. Page refreshes were achingly slow, too. But at least the keyboard made typing Web addresses easier than it is on a regular nine-button phone keypad.
The Tungsten W is loaded with 16Mbyte of SDRAM memory and if you want a powerful handheld that doubles as a mobile phone and a wireless communicator, the Palm Tungsten W represents a good choice — at least you won’t have to carry around two computing devices (a phone and handheld organiser) in your overcoat pocket at the same time.