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Palm Tungsten W — Disingenuous Comment?

As I was writing my review of the Palm Tungsten W, which I finally got my hands on at the latest CTIA show in New Orleans, I came across this curious comment made by a Palm executive in October 2002 (several months before the product’s oficial launch):

“This is not a replacement for a mobile phone,” said Palm senior product manager David Christopher. “We don’t see people trying to use this to make a call while traveling down the highway. But if you are sitting in the airport and want to review a presentation, respond to e-mails and make a call, this would be the device for you. ”

Hmm, I am suspicious here. With a suggested retail price of $549, not counting the cost of ongoing wireless access, that sounds like a very high price for anything but a primary access device.

I am going to take it on faith that the Palm folks did not really mean what they said — they are just smart enough to have realized that these integrated devices do not represent the death of the mobile phone.

After playing with the AT&T Wireless version of the Tungsten W, there are some noteworthy elements of what they have pulled together:

Pros
-The Tungsten W has the most beautiful, sharp display I have seen for any handheld device. It puts the display on the Treo 300 to shame.
-The five-way rocker control is very mouse-like and useful, once you get used to it.
-The integrated keyboard makes email and data access tasks much easier.
-The Tungsten W comes out of the box with one of my favorite applications, Documents to Go, and has a reasonable integration with the rest of the Palm OS.

Cons
-For U.S. customers, the Palm executive’s point has some merit — I am not sure that you want to rely on an AT&T Wireless GSM connection as your only wireless phone connection.
-For anyone who has ever used a Blackberry, the Visto “push email” solution and lack of integration with Calendar and Outlook commands is a frustrating degradation.
-This is a “soft” con, but the Tungsten W still does not feel like a fully-integrated device. It still feels like an aggregation of independent applications that don’t fully work together as seamlessly as they could.

Overall, I was very impressed with this device and it renewed my faith in Palm, which was badly shaken with the launch of the 500 series and i705 devices.

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