This was originally to be a news story for PC Pro, but they dropped the commission immediately after issuing it:
1 February, 1999:
Palm first, two new models
Palm, now the sales leader in Europe as well as the USA, announce two faster, clearer new models to ship in March, the Palm IIIx and Palm V, together with a new 155 GBP price for the PalmPilot, which is no longer manufactured, and 199.99 GBP for the Palm III down from 199 GBP. There are still no plans to ship the wireless Palm VII in Europe.
The Palm IIIx is externally identical to the Palm III, apart from revised slik-screen icons and a Palm IIIx badge, but has 4 Mb memory on the motherboard, leaving the memory slot free for memory add-ons and embedded applications, a faster CPU and a new, easier to read screen. It goes on sale at 279.99 GBP.
The Palm V is a much slimmer version of the best-selling Palm concept. Approximately half the thickness of the Palm III at 349.99 GBP, it is the same width and slightly shorter. The reduction in size necessitates a change from 2 x AAA batteries to a new rechargeable LiIon battery, and the loss of the add-on slot. The unit has 2 Mb of RAM on board, and uses the same PalmOS 3 as is included in the Palm III. It comes with a new cradle that recharges the internal battery. One of the range of add-ons available shortly after launch is an analog/GSM modem for $169 (UK price to be decided) that can clip to the back of the Palm V, making the combined unit only slightly larger than the current Palm III. This includes a 33.6 Kbps 3com modem, and connectors for an a/c adaptor and a cable to connect to Ericsson and Nokia GSM phones. This cable is sold separately. For users with IR phones, such as the Ericsson SH888 and Nokia 8810, these can be used without the modem in the same way as with the current Palm III.
The contrast adjustment wheel has been replaced by a button that brings up a adjustment window. The Palm V has a new gunmetal coloured, slightly slippery metallic case. It has a gutter down either side than can hold either the new plastic stylus, or a leather flip-over cover; these can be swapped from side to side for right or left handed usage.
Both new models are supplied with a new version of the Palm Desktop software, which includes a conduit for Microsoft Outlook, so that users have a choice between using the Palm Desktop software or Outlook for synchronisation with their Palm's. They also share the improved screen, and the same faster CPU.
A survey from IDC covering PC Handheld Companion sales for the first half of 1998 in Europe shows Palm pulling up the ranks to first place ahead of Psion, last years leader, with 46.8% of unit sales. Psion had 29.7%, with Hewlett-Packard at 8.4%, Philips 4.8%, Sharp 3.5%, Casio 1.9%, and Compaq 1.7%. Results for the USA were announced earlier, with Palm at 77%, IBM at 6% with a rebadged Palm, and all others trailing. For worldwide sales Palm has 71% and IBM 4%.
9 February, 1999:
Further information after several days using the Palm V for real:
The case is very slippery; although I haven't dropped it yet, I could easily see myself doing so. There is a slight flare at the bottom of the case that makes the Palm V look like a miniature Philips Nino. There are new logos for the buttons, which should also appear on the Palm IIIx.
The power button has been moved to the top edge, overlapping the very top; it almost seems as if it is meant to be activated by a push pressing vertically down the face of the Palm V, but that isn't the case - only pushing straight down has any effect. I wasn't sure about the repositioning to start with, as it meant that I couldn't use a push from a finger poised over the buttons. Instead, a more deliberate press is required, which is best delivered by one of the fingers of the hand holding the case. I think that this is a slightly better sequence overall than that required by the old position.
The backlight is different from the old model; it is far less bright, and acts as a sort of inverse on the display, like a negative image. This is weird, but usable.
The leather flip cover tends to bounce around. As a cover it is slightly less effective at keeping pocket lint out than the old hard flip cover of the Palm III, and it doesn't sit square on the front of the Palm V when closed. Just the force of gravity, or distortion of the elastic hinge from misuse, is enough to bring it out of true.
There are some minor software changes in the device, although the vast bulk of the programs are identical to PalmOS 3.0. There is now a Graffiti tutorial, called, unsurprisingly, Graffiti. There initial welcome and setup sequence is also available as a separate application, called Welcome. This app can't be escaped from, and runs through the digitiser setup sequence, and the localisation preferences screen. Applications shows the version as "Palm OS Software v.3.1". All of the built-in applications show version 3.0.
The Palm V sits much more firmly on its cradle, which is a new shape once more. A power adaptor can connect to the serial cable, rather than directly into the cradle itself. To indicate that the power supply is connected, the front of the cradle has a luminous green LED, which seems to serve no purpose other than as a stylus rest. The power supply itself is worthy of mention: it has a fold down US style two pin connector, and comes with three plug on adaptors for UK sockets, for round pin and slanted pin mains sockets.
Having given time for reflection, the display really is very much better than previous screens. It is, without doubt, the highest quality mono PDA display available.
This is the final copy that I was asked to remove from my column:
22 February, 1999:
The screen in the new models has one disadvantage. Instead of the clear, bright Indiglo backlight, it lights just one layer of the LCD, providing a true backlight of the display layer, throwing the display into reverse. This provides a substantial power saving when the backlight is active, and Palm are hoping that it will be acceptable to users. However, ignoring the backlight, this is without doubt the clearest PDA screen that I have ever seen, easily the equal of the far smaller, and not touch sensitive, REX.
As with the move from the PalmPilot to the Palm III, the Palm V offers a significant perceived decrease in size. Earlier Palm models were the first PDAs that were a comfortable fit in a jacket pocket, and for most users were the first PDAs that could be carried at almost all times. The Palm V has broken the barrier to become the first true PDA that can comfortably be carried in a shirt pocket without bulging, drooping, or running a great risk of bouncing out; its impact should be that of the sports bra. And just like that article of clothing, it is intended as much as a fashion item as a highly functional article.
The Palm V has two identical channels down either side; each are suitable to hold a restyled, all plastic stylus, or the plastic mounted leather cover. This should be suited for right or left handed use. I found that the relatively sharp edges of the open channels were slightly uncomfortable on my fingers. The leather flip cover, which is intended to be folded behind the Palm in use, tends to bounce around. As a cover it is slightly less effective at keeping pocket lint out than the hard flip cover of the Palm III, and it doesn't sit square on the front of the Palm V when closed. Just the force of gravity, or distortion of the elastic hinge from misuse, is enough to bring it out of true.
The casing is a gunmetal coloured metal sheath, giving the overall impression of a vastly reduced titanium Philips Nino. Unfortunately this means that the Palm V is slightly slippery, especially when cold. On the top edge of the case is a new button that activates an on-screen contrast slider, replacing the contrast wheel that could occasionally be activated by inserting or removing a Palm III from a case or pocket. The power button has been moved to the top edge, overlapping the very top; it almost seems as if it is meant to be activated by a push pressing vertically down the face of the Palm V, but that isn't the case - only pushing straight down has any effect. I wasn't sure about the repositioning to start with, as it meant that I couldn't use a push from a finger from the hand holding the stylus. Instead, a more deliberate press is required, which is best delivered by one of the fingers of the hand holding the case. I think that this is a slightly better sequence overall than that required by the old position. The buttons has also been changed slightly with updated icons being used. Inside the case is a rechargable LiIon battery; battery life should be roughly the same as for the Palm III, and it recharges whenever replaced on the HotSync cradle. In long term usage I can confirm that the battery life is unchanged; you can still expect about a month's steady use from a full charge.
The power supply itself is worthy of mention: it has a fold down US style two pin connector, and comes with three plug on adaptors for UK sockets, for round pin and slanted pin mains sockets. This is the first PDA supplied in the UK with a power supply that can be used world wide.
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