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Tungsten T3, Tungsten E & Zire 21 Launched

Tungsten EYep, the long-rumored and awaited Tungsten T3, Tungsten E and Zire 21 have been officially launched. While everyone seems very infatuated with the new palmOne Tungsten T3 (and with good reason) I'm more excited personally about the Tungsten E.

This new baseline Tungsten device seems to be the long lost relative of the popular Palm V and m500 lines with a nice ARM processor, 32MB RAM and for a pretty nice price of $200. It's also more likely the kind of device I would love to carry as a daily driver, now that my Sony Clie N610 is getting long in the tooth. We'll see. :-)

What I was surprised to learn was the Tungsten T3 and E both come with new PIM software too, including a modified Address Book now called 'Contacts', a new DateBook app called 'Calendar' and a new To-Do app called 'Tasks'.

Contacts has added Outlook compatibility (Windows only) many new fields added, including multiple addresses, Birthday and Anniversary fields. Contacts also has upped the attached note size to 32k. Contact app's contact entries follow vCard format, so when you beam a new contact entry with the added fields to an older device, the old Address Book keeps what matches its fields and dumps the rest of the data. I would have preferred that excess info be added to the note field of the contact... though maybe this is trickier to pull off than it seems.

Calendar appears to have been tweaked by CE Stewart Dewar of Datebk fame, with 24 hour spanning (over midnight) and color-coded categories for calendar entries now standard fare in Calendar. Also added is an agenda view, much like the Pocket PC started with the 'Today' screen, which has been absorbed by both Agendus and Datebk5. 32k note attachments are also added to Calendar.

Tasks adds alarms (finally!) and has the larger 32k memo fields for attached notes.

While I am pleased to see someone finally resolving some of these legacy issues from the original PIM apps, I'm a little disturbed that PalmSource hasn't been involved in doing these changes long, long before now! I wish these updates would have been platform-wide rather than pioneered by palmOne, though I'm happy palmOne is taking the effort to update them. Hopefully, PalmSource will be able to get palmOne's generic APIs for these new PIM app enhancements, so that the new specs can be made standards for all PalmSource PIM apps. I hope I'm not being overly optimistic with that wish.

Whatever the case, Palm OS legacy barriers will be very hard to harmonize gracefully, without some pain for older devices. There are just too many old devices with legacy limitations out there. Even with the promise of XML extensibility of Palm OS 6, these backward compatibility issues will still arise. Maybe the solution is to just do the best possible for backward compatibility and then move on, or risk a Palm OS that's mired in 4k and 16 category limits forever.

Anyway, I don't want to end on a down note. I'm very pleased with palmOne's latest offerings: great features and very reasonable prices ought to make the Zire 21, Tungsten E and Tungsten T3 big hits with buyers.

Great job palmOne!

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