Rumor: Panasonic to License Palm OS, Make ARM-Based Handheld (Updated)
A source who has spoken with a former Palm employee says that Panasonic is going to announce early next week that they have licenced the Palm OS. Even better, they have details on the handheld that Panasonic already has in development.
A name for the handheld is not yet available. It will be one of the first PalmOS handhelds to run on an ARM-based processor. It will use a 32-bit Intel StrongARM SA-110 at 100 MHz. Possibly the most questionable part of this rumor is that this device won't use OS 5.0, but instead run OS 4.2. Until now, it was believed that the first devices with ARM-based chips would run OS 5.0.
It is only speculation but possibly the answer to this is Panasonic has created a Device Abstraction Layer allowing the current version of the Palm OS, written for the Motorola Dragonball family of microprocessors, to run on an ARM-based chip.
It will sport 16 MB of RAM and 8 MB of masked ROM, meaning its OS will be non-upgradable. No explanation was given for the large amount of ROM.
Its screen will have an 8-bit reflective color screen with front lighting at 320 by 320 pixel resolution. The screen's image will be rotatable.
Update: The source has sent a correction. This device will not have a virtual Graffiti area.
It will have dual SD slots located on the top of the device.
It will still have an infrared port but there will be one version with built-in Bluetooth.
The source describes the device as looking similar to the m505 with fewer curves. It will be approximately as thick as the m505.
It will come pre-installed with image editing software to work with pictures taken by Panasonic digital cameras. It isn't clear if Panasonic is intending to announce a Bluetooth-enabled digital camera later of if images will need to be transferred on SD card.
The model with built-in Bluetooth will cost $430 and the model without will be $360. They should be available near the beginning of April, 2002.
Panasonic is also developing a tri-band GPRS wireless modem as a clip-on sled. It is not yet known if this will be data only or voice and data.
At this time, there is no way to double check this. If Panasonic does announced that it has licensed the Palm OS next week, that will certainly be a strong clue that these device specs are accurate.
- Intel: SA-110 Processor
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