Aceeca Readying New Palm OS Garnet Handhelds
We are scarcely two weeks into 2010 and we may have already witnessed the most surprising news item of the year. Out of nowhere and via the TamsPalm blog, New Zealand based ruggedized handheld specialist Aceeca has unofficially confirmed that they are readying not one but two new Palm OS Garnet handheld PDAs for release. These new Garnet machines will be based upon shared hardware architecture with a pair of new Windows CE 5.0 handhelds.
Officially, Aceeca remains one of Access' final remaining Palm OS licensees, so the news is not totally out of left field. While Aceeca has remained rather quiet as of late, the firm has remained committed to supporting their existing stable of Palm OS devices.
Two separate new Garnet handhelds are forthcoming: the MEZ1500 Garnet and the PDA32 Garnet. Between these two upcoming Aceeca Palm OS models , the consumer-oriented PDA32 looks to be of most interest to the PIC faithful. According to Tam's story, the PDA32 will be "slightly taller than a Palm TX and about twice as thick. It has an ARM CPU, color QVGA screen but does NOT have the MZIO expansion bus…"
Tam's source who also shared this information with PIC goes describes the PDA32 as a new smaller, less rugged "business class PDA." He goes on to mention that this is "…the first new non-smartphone, non-barcode scanner Garnet OS powered handheld released within the past couple years, with multiple wireless options and SD memory expansion." Of course, that blurb brings to mind just as many questions as it answered but additional details will hopefully be forthcoming once the company makes an official announcement about the new devices. If nothing else, users looking for a final non-phone Palm OS device should be encouraged by a reasonably-priced new hardware offering.
The pricier MEZ1500 Garnet handheld is more in line with the company's traditional ruggedized handhelds for industrial and vertical markets. It promises to not only offer the newer Garnet OS over its predecessor's Palm OS 4.x but also a color QVGA screen, increased battery life and wi-fi and Bluetooth wireless options. The list price of the MEZ1500 Garnet will be $499, with wireless connectivity coming at extra cost. Its release will lag slightly behind its Windows CE 5.0 sibling device.
According to the original source, David Thacker of Satellite Forms, the PDA32 Windows CE version is scheduled to be priced around $199 USD plus wireless options. The PDA32 will presumably carry similar pricing and is planned for release in April. If the units do indeed arrive on time, it will hit the market exactly 4.5 years since Palm released its final non-phone Palm OS handhelds, the TX and Z22, in October 2005. Tam Hanna's 2006 review of Aceeca's older Meazura handheld can be found here.
Mr. Thacker notes, this news may seem a little "behind the curve" for consumers looking for the latest flashy devices, but for industrial/vertical markets where devices are used day in day out for 6-7+ years, this is fantastic news.