Palm m105 and Franklin eBookMan EBM-901

The m105 is the latest model from market leader Palm. An improved version of the m100 which we reviewed in our September 2000 issue (page 32), it features 8MB of memory and includes the Mobile Internet Kit (see March 2001, page 40) as part of the standard package. It's not wildly different from the earlier model, but shares its lightness and ruggedness while offering a better deal for the money. As is typical of the Palm range, the device performed its functions with much reliability and little fuss.

The Franklin eBookMan is a later entrant to the handheld market, and focuses on providing a convenient and portable way to read electronic books. Its screen has almost twice the area of the m105's, and can display 16 grey levels. The pre-production model we tested had 8MB of RAM, but since it uses a removable multimedia card for storage, this can be expanded to as much as 64MB.

In addition to acting as a reading platform, the Franklin PDA can take voice memos and play MP3s through headphones, as well as incorporating standard functions such as a calendar, calculator and address book. Its character recognition performance was slightly better than that of the Palm, but as a pre-release model it had some bugs. The most annoying of these were an excessively long error sound which couldn't be turned off, and some tendency not to scroll consistently when reading. However, as these are mainly software problems, they hopefully will be fixed by the final release.

The eBookMan was slightly heavier than the m105, and gave the impression of being less rugged, though I didn't perform any drop tests. Both take two AAA batteries, and both perform the functions for which they are intended.

Palm m105

Price: $TBA

Supplier: Palm, Inc

Phone: 1300 360 558

URL: www.palm.com.au

Franklin eBookMan EBM-901

Price: $399.95

Supplier: Franklin Electronic Publishers

Phone: 1800 882 588

URL: www.franklin.com

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