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Palm-Related News: November 1999

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Palm-Related News: November 1999

by Corbin Collins

WELCOME, READERS! The Palm world moves fast, and a lot has happened since I finished writing the book. Here's the latest Palm news, as of November 1999.

3Com to spin off Palm

3Com has announced that its Palm division will become a separate, independent entity by the end of 1999.

Palm VII goes national, new Volume Plan

The highly anticipated Palm VII wireless device is now available all over America for $499, with a few changes from the initial New York-only version. More than 100 third-party providers have Palm Query Applications (PQAs) available for download at Palm's Web site. There's also a new expanded Palm.Net service plan for heavy users, called the Volume Plan.

Here's how the Palm VII service plans break down:

  • Basic Plan: $9.99/month. Includes 80 transactions (50K). Typical: 30 messages, 20 stock quotes, 10 sports scores, 10 traffic reports, and 10 weather updates.

  • Expanded Plan: $24.99/month. 240 transactions (150K). Typical: 90 messages, 60 stock quotes, 30 sports scores, 30 traffic reports, and 30 weather updates.

  • Volume Plan: $39.99/month. 480 transactions (300K). Typical: 180 messages, 120 stock quotes, 60 sports scores, 60 traffic reports, and 60 weather updates. The Volume Plan gives you approximately 9,000 screens per month.

    Those signing up for the Volume Plan before January 4, 2000 will receive 1,600 transactions a month (1MB) for the first six months.

Third-party email solutions available

Third parties are now providing new email solutions for Palm VII users.

  • The Thin Air Mail PQA application (www.thinairmail.com) is free and lets you read and send email using your regular email account and your Palm VII.

  • Monkey Mail Service (www.monkeymail.com) will forward your email from your ISP to your Palm.Net iMessenger account.

  • Excite (www.excite.com) and Yahoo (yahoo.com) are offering PQAs to connect to your Yahoo or Excite mail accounts with the Palm VII. AOL (www.aol.com) is expected to follow with one later this year.

  • The Visto Briefcase (www.visto.com) has a Palm VII mail-forwarding solution for corporations.

Palm prices fall

In response to competition from Visor (see below), Palm has reduced the prices of several Palm devices. The Palm IIIe went from $229 to $179. The Palm IIIx dropped from $369 to $299. The Palm V fell from $449 to $369. And, as I mentioned earlier, the Palm VII's official price is now $499.

Palm IIIe Special Edition

For $179, you can get a Palm IIIe with a really cool translucent case.

Palm Colour Shades Kit

Just in time for the holidays, this new offering from Palm contains three Palm III covers, in translucent aqua, blue, and lime--plus three stylii--for a mere $12.95.

Palm Vx Special Edition

Palm has released a new version of the Palm V called the Vx Special Edition, with a whopping 8MB of memory. The Palm Vx retails for $449--the same as a Palm V--and offers IR HotSyncing. It runs on a faster processor and streamlined OS software, too.

Handspring introduces the Visor

Palm's cofounders, Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins, started a company called Handspring (www.handspring.com). Handspring has come out with a device called the Visor, scheduled to be in stores beginning next year, selling for $179.

The Visor is just like a Palm III, with a few special features. The Visor uses the Palm OS and has the same applications as the ones you are used to on the Palm--with an enhanced Date Book and a new app called World Clock. One disadvantage is that the synchronizing cradle is USB only, meaning those with older computers without USB ports must buy a separate serial port cradle. The Visor also has an IR port, and you can beam stuff between Visors and Palms.

A Visor Deluxe model ($249) comes with an impressive 8MB of memory, and you can choose among five "candy" colors: orange, blue, black, clear, and green. Another model, called the Visor Solo, will cost $149 but lack the synchronizing cradle.

The Visor's biggest departure from the Palm is Springboard, an expansion slot that lets you add hardware and software with little or no effort--just slide a cartridge in or out. Springboard cartridges are expected for modems, pagers, voice recorders, digital cameras, MP3 players, and maybe even cell phones.

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