Palm to Expand RAM in Future PDAs

Answering the need to cram more and more applications on handheld devices, Palm Thursday said it can expand the amount of random-access memory (RAM) possible on future Palm OS handhelds from the current 16MB size to 128MB.

With a step up in memory, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based handheld computer maker said new versions of their Palm-powered PDAs will be able to carry more images, video, music, multimedia and gaming applications and Microsoft Office documents.

For example, a high-performance Palm Tungsten T handheld would require about one-fifth the storage space to hold identical calendar or address information. The sevenfold improvement is the result of compression technology. Engineers with Palm Solutions and PalmSource worked together on the project.

“Cooperative development in partnership with our licensees gives the Palm OS platform faster innovation and benefits the entire Palm Economy,” PalmSource president and CEO David Nagel said.

But a Palm spokesperson told that just because the hardware has the capability, don’t expect the RAM improvements to shoot right up to 128MB right off the bat. The company says it still has to work with its OS vendors like Sony and Handspring to get the configurations just right.

Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin says Palm had to respond to the memory challenge because of increased competition from devices running Pocket PC OS.

“I think there continues a segment in the business and enterprise sector that PDAs are much too underpowered,” Bajarin said. “Business customers tell us that no matter how efficient the Palm OS is, the competitive marketing spin on limited memory created concern.”

Bajarin said the ability for Palm to handle 128MB of RAM will also help them fit into new devices coming out in the next year that are larger than a PDA but not as powerful as a computer notebook.

Palm says its improvements also help users take less time performing functions. The company said with its RAM improvements. Palm said its handheld user needs to perform only one step to beam a business card versus four steps on a Pocket PC device; and that a Palm handheld owner can enter a Date Book appointment with only two steps instead of the seven steps required of a Pocket PC device owner.

“The range of potential next-generation hardware and software solutions expands tremendously with this innovation,” Steve Manser, senior vice president of product development for Palm Solutions Group said in a statement. “Our memory advance means customers can be confident they’ll have what they need to deploy robust business applications or rich multimedia.”

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