Palm preps next wireless device

Palm Inc.'s long-awaited new wireless handheld moved one step closer to the market Monday, as the company received regulatory approval for the device.

The Palm i705 will allow users to tap into their corporate e-mail accounts and surf the Internet via the MyPalm portal, according to a Palm filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Plans for the device include a blinking red/green indicator light to alert users to incoming e-mail and a Secure Digital (SD) expansion slot for add-on software and hardware. The indicator light will also be used to indicate when users are out of range for wireless transmission.

The four buttons along the base of the handheld will by default link to the calendar, address book, MyPalm portal and MultiMail Deluxe e-mail application. That's a slight departure from Palm's traditional set-up, which has the buttons keyed to the calendar, address book, to-do list and memo programs. Users can reassign the buttons to launch any application on their device.

Palm i705 users will need a subscription to the company's Palm.Net service to take advantage of the device's wireless capabilities. Monthly subscription rates for Palm.Net currently start at US$9.99.

The Palm i705 will be Palm's first new handheld with built-in wireless functionality since it released the Palm VII in 1999. Palm has not committed to a release date for the i705, but the company is widely expected to launch the new handheld before the end of 2001. Palm representatives did not return calls seeking comment.

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