Palm m515, Palm m130, Sony Clie‚ T615, NEC MobilePro P300

Handheld computers

Palm users envious of the latest Pocket PC releases over the past couple of months can take heart: both Palm and PalmOS licensee Sony have launched new PDAs. On the Pocket PC front, meanwhile, newcomer NEC has released a Pocket PC 2002-based handheld.

Palm has two new models - the m515 and m130. The Palm m515 has the same dimensions as predecessor m505 but comes with twice the internal memory - 16MB compared to 8MB.

It feels a little heavier, as well. Confusingly, the box lists the weight as 139g (same as the m505) but Palm-supplied specs give the weight as 152g. Our scales read 168g when we weighed it with the protective cover attached. Dimensions are the same as the m505, however, at 114x79x13mm. The m130's weight is given as 153g and it's a little bigger at 121.9x78.7x22.9mm, but a curvy case means it fits neatly in your hand. Plus, for less than $700 you get a bright, backlit, colour screen.

Along with the extra memory, the m515 comes with a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, while the m130 has a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

Palm users looking to upgrade will be happy to hear that the new models will work with the accessories you may have already bought for an m500, m505 or m125.

To cap off this round of new releases, Palm has also launched a Bluetooth card ($299) to add wireless capability to any of its expandable PDAs, as well as a shrink-wrapped version of its newest operating system (4.1) so that owners of older PDAs can boost performance. (See this month's news briefs, page 19, for an update on Palm's OS 5 developments.)Palm, Sony-styleThe Clie‚ T615, previewed in last month's PC World, is the first of Sony's Palm-based PDAs to go on sale in Australia. Sony's goal is to find an audience for its PDAs outside the business market - promoting it as a possible centre for personal entertainment. That said, local Sony representatives admit that they're hoping to win over existing, mobile executive users of Palm devices with the T615.

The T615 certainly seems aimed at users of the Palm m505 and now the m515. At $949, it's priced in a similar realm to Palm's high-end models, although it's $50 cheaper than both the m505 and m515.

Like the m515 it comes with 16MB onboard memory and a powerful backlit screen. It's also slightly smaller than the m505 and m515, and at 138g it's lighter than both models. Expandability comes via a Memory Stick slot and Sony has thrown in extra software like an app to turn the PDA into a remote and a world time alarm clock.

Sony has also included a jog dial (as does NEC's new Pocket PC) which lets you navigate using one hand. Once you're into an application, however, you'll need to use the stylus.

New Pocket PC player

Priced at $1349, NEC's first PDA - the MobilePro P300 - joins such handhelds as HP's $1449 Jornada 568, Toshiba's $1249 Pocket PC e570 and Compaq's iPAQ H3870 ($1499) in the Pocket PC corner.

The MobilePro is presented in matt metallic silver and the specifications are good, with a 206MHz Intel StrongARM processor and 32MB of RAM. The screen stretches to 240x320 with 16-bit colour, although to get the best from it requires a stronger backlight, as it isn't the most vibrant available.

The standard applications are present, courtesy of Pocket PC 2002. NEC has added some custom applications, but these mainly run to customising some hardware settings and should really be in the Control Panel. In terms of expansion, NEC has provided two options: CFII (CompactFlash II) and SD (Secure Digital). The CFII slot will happily accept IBM's MicroDrive, providing plenty of storage. On the whole, not a bad first attempt from NEC.

Palm m515 ****

It may look a little like an m505, but the m515 has double the memory (and a slightly heavier package).

Price: $999.

Phone: 1300 360 558.

URL: www.palm.com.au.

Palm m130 ****

Great colour screen and rechargeable batteries boost Palm's lower-priced PDA.

Price: $679.

Phone: 1300 360 558.

URL: www.palm.com.au.

Sony Clie‚ T615 ****

This stylish PDA's great build quality and software package make it a worthy contender to Palm's "higher-end models.

Price: $949.

Phone: 1300 137 669.

URL: www.sony.com.au/clie.

NEC MobilePro P300 ***

NEC's well-specified first handheld has good expansion and the standard software options.

Price: $1399.

Phone: 1800 632 777.

URL: www.nec-computers-ap.com.

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