Milpitas, Calif. - Palm has launched its first sub-$100 handheld, effectively entering the mainstream organizer market, under the new, low-end Zire brand.
The bare-bones handheld, with a white casing, is aimed at the mass market. It ships without a cradle, but can HotSync with a PC via a mini USB port. The 2MB unit is aimed at the novice user, who wants intuitive use of a scheduler, phone book and to-do list, said Palm.
Noting that most handheld users are mobile professionals or technology enthusiasts, Palm product group manager for SG product marketing Andrea Johnson said the new Zire 'is for the rest of us.'
The Zire is the lightest Palm to date. It offers basic organizer functions such as address book, date book, note pad, to-do list, expenses and calculator. It is expandable through the HotSync function but does not have an SD slot. The Zire uses Graffiti handwriting recognition and it has alarms for appointment reminders and IR beaming. It has a 160 by 160 monochrome display, runs on the Palm 4.1 OS and ships with rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
Until now, the sub-$100 handheld space was populated by close-out PDAs or high-end organizers from brands such as Royal, Sharp and Casio. When asked about the new competition, Royal marketing VP Todd Althoff noted, 'Yes, its traditionally been our space but Royal made the decision a year ago to bring value to the price point when we saw Palm closeouts at $99. We introduced the Linea 16 which has 16MB of RAM and a built in 56K modem with our own e-mail client and e-mail service and rechargeable batteries. I don't have the name brand OS but I have all the same features plus e-mail and a modem.'