Palm touts Web browser optimized for handhelds

Palm Inc. Wednesday unveiled a branded Web browser that it says is optimized for handheld devices, using compression technology that downloads text rapidly, and is customized to display Web pages on small screens.

Palm's move into the Web browser market appears to be an extension of its recent focus on the wireless market, which has been a key feature in its latest line of products. In addition to announcing its wireless, "always on" i705 model in January, earlier this month it also touted a Bluetooth card to accompany some of its products.

Palm's new Web Browser is available for the Palm m125, m130, m500, m505, m515 and i705 handsets, the company said. Internet access requires an ISP (Internet service provider) account, and with some models, a modem or mobile phone with data capabilities.

The browser is selling for US$19.95 and will be available in the U.S. via download from the Palm online store (http://store.palm.com) beginning April 8. The product will be available to European users at the end of April through PalmDirect.com (http://palmdirect.com), and in other regions through third-party vendors. The browser comes localized in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese.

The Santa Clara, California-based handheld maker said that its new product boasts all the standard functions users have come to expect from a browser, including the ability to bookmark sites and categorize favorites. Through caching, users can also capture online information such as news articles and maps, Palm said.

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