New Palm

october 9, 2002

Palm has released a new handheld for the casual consumer, it's part of the Zire product line. The first Zire is actually named the m150, it is white with a silver back and looks much like an Ipod in design. Looking at the specs it really looks like Palm has taken a step back in time with this machine. I'm sure that it'll sell well with the consumer who hasn't gotten a PDA yet, but I really don't think that it'll do well with people who already have a PDA. The unit sells in a bubble pack for the low price of $99. The front face is clean and has only two application buttons -- the datebook and addressbook -- the other two standard Palm buttons are gone (todo and memo). There are also the up and down button. The machine itself doesn't have backlighting (cost cutting?) but has a built-in Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. The machine doesn't come with a cradle, rather it comes with a USB cable and a charging cable. Oh, and it only has 2MB of RAM. Personally I like the new clean design of the m150, it looks great. But, the lack of buttons and RAM is discouraging. Looking at how Handspring has dumped the Visor Edge on the market at around $120, I'm not sure how well this m150 will do -- the Visor Edge has 8MB of RAM, looks great, has all the hardware buttons, and has a cradle. But, I'm guessing that the m150 will tap the impulse buying market of people who still use scraps of paper. Selling it in a bubble pack is a smart idea, letting retailers put the unit up front in the register lines instead of in a box on a shelf in the back. I hope Palm decides to do more with this new look -- like a color screen, more RAM, and maybe even adopting a little built-in keyboard (like my Treo 90) for those who are unwilling to learn Grafetti.