January 29, 2002, 9:59 AM — Palm Inc.'s latest handheld, the wireless-ready Palm i705, hit store shelves in New York City on Thursday, IDG News Service has learned.
The i705, which runs Palm OS 4.1, the latest version of Palm's operating system, appeared on the shelves of CompUSA on Fifth Avenue in New York on Thursday, but a salesman at the store said the branch sold the first unit on Friday afternoon.
The new PDA (personal digital assistant) is Palm's most expensive offering. It was priced at US$449.99 at CompUSA. Palm's current high-end model, the m505, costs $399 on the company's Web site. The new model features the standard backlight display, a USB (universal serial bus) HotSync cradle with battery recharger and Palm's universal connector, which allows users to connect devices including a keyboard or camera to the bottom of the device.
The i705 weighs 5.9 ounces (165.2 grams), one ounce more than the m505, and it features a slot for Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMediaCard (MMC) cards, which are also available in the m500 series and in Palm's m125. The i705 has 8M bytes of RAM and 4M bytes of flash ROM.
One analyst was surprised that the i705 only has 8M bytes of RAM, while Palm competitor Handspring Inc.'s Visor Pro model has 16M bytes of memory. "It didn't add significantly to the cost or weight of the Visor," said Todd Kort, principal analyst with Gartner Inc. The Visor Pro, a Palm OS PDA that can access the Web with an add-on module, costs $249 on Handspring's Web site.
Kort was equally surprised that Palm used a 160-by-160-pixel monochrome screen on the i705. Palm is likely to have a difficult time convincing users who are used to color screens to switch back to monochrome, Kort said.
Palm decided to use the monochrome screen because it both preserves battery life and keeps the price of the unit down, said John Cook, senior director of product management and planning, in an interview following Monday's announcement. Adding a color screen would have raised the price of the i705 by about $150, and battery life, which ranges from between two to three days for a heavy user, to about a week for an average user, would also have suffered, Cook said.
One notable difference between the i705 and its wireless predecessor, the Palm VIIx, is that Palm has dropped the flip-up antenna in favor of a smaller antenna built into the top of the unit. Palm's VIIx is currently priced at $99, after mail-in discount, on the company's Web site.
Palm has also changed the icon on two buttons on the new version: the "to do" button has been replaced by an image of a globe, while the "memo" button has been replaced by an e-mail icon. Neither button appeared to have any difference in functions on the floor model at CompUSA.