Palm Finds Friends for Tungsten C

PDA maker Palm Thursday said it has paired with some well-connected friends to bolster its latest handheld device, the Tungsten C.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm announced five agreements with technology companies for voice over IP (VoIP) , Wi-Fi, and authentication software based on protocol developed by Cisco Systems .

The new partnerships include VoIP-player VLI, 802.11-centric firms Linksys, Wayport, WiFinder and security company Meetinghouse Data Communications.

Palm says it hopes to entice more Wi-Fi campus networkers and small office or home office (SOHO) professionals with the deals. The company has yet to release any sales figures, but it has strong competition in similar handhelds from Sony and Hewlett-Packard .

Demonstrating its technology at a tech conference in San Diego, VLI said it will launch its Gphone platform for Palm handhelds in June. Though it was not originally designed to do so, the software turns the Tungsten C into a mobile phone. Palm originally designed the Tungsten “W”, with GSM functionalities, to carry that banner. VLI’s platform though helps the “C” connect to online directory services and SIP (session initiation protocol) compatible IP devices, including PC and Internet phones, as well as make calls over the switched public telephone network.

The Tungsten “C” is the first Palm to run on an Intel 400MHz XScale (PX255) processor. The $499 device runs Palm OS 5.2.1 and comes with a QWERTY keyboard, Graffiti 2 writing space and the 5-way toggle switch. In addition to the usual calendar and phone info, the Tungsten C has VersaMail 2.5 for its e-mail client as well as DataViz’s latest version of its Documents To Go. The software allows users to view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint compatible documents.

But the “C’ also includes internal 802.11b support and the ability to “hot-sync” using a Wireless LAN.

That prompted Linksys to offer $60 in discounts on wireless access points, notebook adapters and PC cards until the end of September 2003, Wayport to hand out 30-day free trials of its Internet service. Both come with the purchase of a Tungsten C handheld. Hotspot locator WiFinder also said it has tweaked its format for the Tungsten line.

On the security front, the Tungsten C has a proxy-less Web browser that supports standard HTML. The Java Script enabled browser also has SSL 3.0 security built in.

Meetinghouse said it will begin offering its AEGIS WLAN security package later this summer to support the Tungsten. The standards-based authentication method covers LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol), which was developed by Cisco. The technology requires mutual authentication, which means both the user and access point to which the user is attempting to connect must authenticate one to the other before network access is granted.

In addition to LEAP security, Meetinghouse is offering an IPSec virtual private network client. The company said its VPN software can encrypt confidential, data-intensive applications from very secure places like a company’s building and less secure areas such as restaurants, hotels and airports.

News Around the Web