It's Official: m500 and m505 Released
As was learned yesterday, almost all the rumored specs are confirmed. Both devices run Palm OS 4.0 on a 33 MHz Dragonball VZ processor and have 8 MB of memory and Secure Digital (SD) slots. The m500 is $400 and the m505 is $450.
Both are available for sale now on Palm's webstore. The m500 is scheduled to be delivered in the US in late April, with the m500 coming in May. Also, orders made during yesterday's unofficial "sneak peak" are being honored by Palm.
The monochrome m500 is 4.5" x 3.1" x 0.4" and weighs 4 oz. Palm suggests it will get four weeks of use without needing to recharge its lithium-polymer batteries. Palm says it has "an enhanced gray-scale screen for a crisp, clear display, with greater contrast for easier readability."
The color m505 will cost $450. It is 4.5" x 3.1" x 0.5" and weighs 4.9 oz, so it is slightly thicker and heavier. Palm's suggested time before needing a battery recharge is half that of the m500, probably due to the increased power needs of the screen, which can display 65 thousand colors.
Despite hopeful rumors to the contrary, both models still have the 160x160 screen resolution.
Both models come with a USB cradle and flip cover. Their ROMs are flashable, meaning their OS is easily upgradeable.
It still isn't clear whether applications can be run straight from SD cards though there are hints that this is possible. Games are being sold on SD cards. Presumably, the main reason for this is to use the anti-piracy features of the SD standard to prevent them from being pirated. If the game has to be manually copied into memory before playing, then this security is compromised.
In addition, a conversation with someone who until now was under a non-disclosure agreement reveals that applications on SD cards work like they do on desktop computers. When an app on an SD card is open, it is transferred into main memory and run from there. When the app is closed, it is automatically removed from memory.
Both devices feature the new Uniform Connector, Palm's new standard for attaching peripherals to the serial port. The good news is all future models for at least the next two years will use this same connector. The bad news is that no current serial port accessories are usable with the new handhelds. The serial port itself has been redesigned to allow the Palm to connect to a PC via USB. There is no word yet on whether anyone will release an adapter.
One of the handy new features of the m500 series is its new alarm methods. The old audible alarm is still there and a vibrating alarm and a blinking alarm have been added. Also new is an application called Attention Manager that lets users view and clear multiple alarms with a single tap.
Palm has also enhanced the security in OS 4 to allow users to put an automatic lock on the handheld, assign a password and encrypt sensitive data to keep information safe, then view or edit secured data easily.
Both models also come with the Mobile Internet Kit, which appears to have been renamed Mobile Connectivity. This allows users to connect via infrared to a mobile phone, use Web Clipping apps, and access e-mail accounts.
The m500 series comes bundled with an excellent collection of third-party software, including DataViz Documents To Go 3.0, MGI PhotoSuite Mobile Edition, Palm Reader, powerOne Personal calculator, and more.
"This is the set of products that goes after the heart of Palm's market--mobile business professionals. They get to keep the things they liked about the Palm V, but now they have options for expansion and for color," said John Cook, senior director of product marketing for Palm.
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