Palm opens up

Palm announced here on Tuesday that it will add secure digital support first to its operating system, then to Palm devices that should ship early in 2001.

Palm currently supports Compact Flash through its licensee TRG, as well as Memory Stick in a device Sony will release this fall.

But Secure Digital, a tiny postage stamp-sized media that supports Input/Output, is the first internal expansion Palm will support in its own devices. With SD's I/O capabilities, Palms can add both content storage and wireless connectivity, including Bluetooth and 802.11.

Secure Digital expansion is an open standard being developed by the SD associatation. Other members include Sandisk, Olympus, Toshiba, Qualcomm, Hewlett-Packard, and Phillips Electronics.

Palm chose secure digital for its small size and I/O capabilities, says John Cook, director of consumer product marketing at Palm. "Wearability is important," says Cook. "We want to keep Palm devices as small as possible while adding content and connectivity first in the form of communication cards like Bluetooth, Ethernet, and 802.11."

Beyond internal support for wireless connectivity standards, Secure Digital will add media storage. "You could have a song database on your Palm," Cook says, adding that "SD already complies with the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI)."

However, Palm remains quiet about specific plans for SD, and has not offered a timeline for its promised Bluetooth and Ethernet SD cards.

SD is such a new standard that few other products support it. But "there are a lot of companies creating consumer electronic devices with SD," Cook says. "Panasonic has an MP3 player with SD in Japan."

By the time Palm launches its SD support, you may be able to use the card more easily across devices like your digital camera, music player, and PC.

And while the Compact Flash standard supported in Pocket PCs has already edged up to one gigabyte with IBM's Microdrive, SD is still in double digits of megabyte storage. The small SD standard will support 32MB and 64MB this year, Cook says. "It will quickly move up to 256MB."

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Cameron Crouch

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