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Handhelds with QVGA Color Screens Coming this Year

HandEra and Epson have announced that Epson's LCD Controllers are now supported by HandEra’s QVGA technology. HandEra is not only using QVGA in its own devices but offers it for licencing to other handheld makers. This means that Epson's controllers can be used in HandEra models and those from other companies. The newest Epson LCD Controller, which has HandEra support, offers up to 320 by 320 screen at 16-bit color, though the QVGA standard is 240 by 320.

The two companies go on to say that "New products with built-in QVGA technology and Epson LCD Controller support are anticipated to rollout within the coming year." It is not clear whether this means on a HandEra model of from some unnamed licensee, though it will be on a Palm OS device.

While HandEra does licence the technology, no licensees have been announced, though Mike Walter, vice president of software development for the company, has said there is a "strong interest within the industry in licensing HandEra's technology." HandEra calls QVGA "an emerging standard for Palm Powered devices".

QVGA-aware applications include support for a high-resolution 240 by 320 pixel screen, additional display fonts, and a collapsible "virtual" Graffiti area, sometimes called a "soft" Graffiti area. The QVGA standard was originally adopted for the HandEra 330.

Epson’s most recent product announcement, the S1D13A05 LCD Controller, will be among the controllers supported by HandEra. The SID13A05 has an embedded 256 KB of display buffer, which allows resolutions up to 320 by 320 at 65,536 colors. It also includes a hardware acceleration engine providing high performance graphic drawing functions and an embedded USB client making it a highly integrated companion IC for today’s handheld devices.

Thanks to the friendly nXt for the tip. -Ed

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Packaging

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:45:14 AM #
Wow! Now if HandEra could produce a slimmer package for their handheld. Collapsible Graf area would be nice in a 320X320 machine.

RE: Packaging
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:25:32 PM #
Wouldn't collapsible graffiti in a 320 x 320 screen require something like 320 x 480?

RE: Packaging
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:52:31 PM #
In my opinion: Not really.

The current Handera screen is 240x320 (240 wide, 320 high).

The 320x320 could be achieved by adding a certain factor to the 240 width, to show 320 instead (not too dissimilar to the pixel doubling in the Sony Clies).

The remaining part left over at the bottom os then "reserved" for the soft graffiti area.

If you look at a Handera, the soft graffiti area is not supported by most applications, but the ones who do support it make it look great (datebook, spreadsheets, memopad).

So in essence, you could have a 240x1.3 = 320 width and height screen, and the remainder would remain blank (if you move the graffiti area down) as is the case in most applications today.

RE: Packaging
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:28:38 PM #
So what you're saying is let's have a virtual graffiti area that can't be used. Didn't Palm already do something like that in the Pilot?

I think you're missing the point. I want to use the whole pickin screen. iSilo photos are great on my Handera. Wordsmith also supports, not to mention quick office. Several offer screen rotation as well. I don't need higher than QVGA resolution, just let me maximize the space I can use!

Excellent

sub_tex @ 1/29/2002 11:53:07 AM #
some of the best news i've heard in a while.

If my palm had a QVGA color screen with a native file system it would be perfect to me.

The end of this year and early next year seem like they'll be full of nice toys.

:)

RE: Excellent
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:17:43 PM #
Agreed..

a color Handera would be SWEET!

Man I hope it comes quickly tho...

New HandEra?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:03:27 PM #
Wouldn't it be something if HandEra would get rid of that UGLY silver Palm III casing??? Imagine the outrage if HandEra stuck with the Palm III casing on their new color models. Meanwhile I'll patiently await a color HandEra device, hoping they'll make it right...though I can already see the end for my T615...

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:10:45 PM #
Most of the 330's casing is not silver, just the top part that goes around the screen, the rest is black. When it is closed, it appears to be mostly black with a line of silver around the edge. When it's open and I'm using it, there is something about the silver around the screen that seems like it makes the screen better to look at. Yeah, I know it sounds dumb, but I think if it was all black (as some have suggested) the screen wouldn't appear as nice or read as well. Probably some kind of optical effect.

Yes, when it is off, and you open the cover and stare directly at the front of it, it looks darn tacky. In real use though, I think it actually looks much better than the ugliness some, who have only seen web photos of it, would claim. Certainly better than older Palms and Visors.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:15:04 PM #
Face it: you're presenting your opinion as fact.

Sure, many agree with you; but many also agree with me that the HE looks just fine, and even more are, like me, grateful that they didn't have to change their collection of Palm III-series peripherals.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:15:44 PM #
I like the "Tech" look and feel of the HandEra. Guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:20:40 PM #
Palm Inc. You should move on ASAP....SONY is passing you and handera is comming.

RE: New HandEra?
sub_tex @ 1/29/2002 12:40:30 PM #
Why don't they change the casing but keep the connector?

Or adopt the universal connector and include a III style attchment so you can still use your old peripherals?

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:47:58 PM #
i dont really have a problem with what the handera looks like. its quite a good size considering what its packing.

people who want a fashion accessory PDA know where they can get one, thats no mystery.

RE: New HandEra?
Ed @ 1/29/2002 12:48:21 PM #
It's only my opinion but I believe HandEra's next model should use the Universal Connector rather than the III series one the 330 uses. When the 330 was announced, there were plenty of people with lots of III-series handhelds and peripherals looking for an upgrade and HandEra gave them one that saved them lots of money. However, those III series peripherals are aging and replacements are becoming hard to find. The Universal Connector is the Wave of The Future™. I believe HandEra would be smart to switch. Dependence on a peripheral connector for which there are few new peripherals isn't in anyone's best interest, especially HandEra's.

---
News Editor
RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:58:37 PM #
Oh, I'd certainly agree.

The Way of the Future is the Universal connector, and the most desirable form factor is 50x.

But the previous use of the III-series form factor and serial connection was, to me, an appropriate compromise, not a design flaw.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:12:56 PM #
I agree too. I have a 330, but I really hope HandEra switches to Palm's universal connector as well. Yeah, I have a bunch of Palm III connector cradles and a III connector GoType, but the rest of my peripherals are CF. I'd much rather see HandEra resolve the desires of people wanting USB at this point.

The m50x form factor is great, but if HandEra can give me both CF and SD in a form same or smaller than Pocket PC is doing it, that's good enough for me.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:43:59 PM #
From what I understand is that Palm's wonderful "Universal Connector" is nothing of the sort, but a proprietary concept. Do you see anyone else using the technology?

I am using the GoType keyboard, PalmIII modem, and PalmIII GPS with my 330 (previously had a PalmIIIx, then a TRGPro). I would hate to have to replace them all. What would be nice if they used PalmIII connector and made it USB speeds for syncing.



RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 2:03:16 PM #
From that perspective, the Palm III connector was itself "nothing of the sort, but a proprietary concept" as you put it.

It would be difficult and impractical to just take the Palm III connector and convert it into some kind of super-high speed serial port.

I'm pretty sure people from HandEra have already stated months ago that the 330 would be their last device with that connector.

RE: New HandEra?
Altema @ 1/29/2002 2:06:41 PM #
I doubt that they will attempt to push the same serial pin configuration to usb speeds, as it would violate the rs232 standards. Plus you would need software to switch between usb and serial in order to use the existing III accessories. What the universal connector does is allow for both the USB connection and true rs232 serial connections. For someone who NEEDS both connection on the same device, it's having your cake and eating it too...

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 2:19:02 PM #
Yes, HandEra did claim that the 330 would be their last device with the III-style connector. What they go to next is still TBA, but Palm's Universal Connector looks to be a likely bet.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 2:37:47 PM #
I had talked to a lady in sales at HandEra (515-252-7522, sorry don't remember a name) that said the Universal connector wont be used because Palm won't allow it to be.

With that in mind and the previous post saying that they are not going to use the serial PalmIII port anymore, I wonder what they will use.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 3:19:40 PM #
Next time you call, ask what the form factor will be, what screen they're using, how fast the processor is, and how much memory it'll have.


RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:16:45 PM #
I did, but could not get any other comments other than "please watch the webste for official press releases". I was actually suprised that she slipped on the connector, maybe I should call sales again and try to get another 'slip' ;)

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:21:57 PM #

Why in the world would palm NOT allow other OEM's to use the Universal Connector.

Isn't the whole idea of the new connector is to have a common interface acress all Palm devices?

I hope they don't want to keep it to themselves. That would be soooo weak.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:30:45 PM #
Well, if they can't use the universal connector, I hope they at least provide a standard USB slave connector on the side, or try to find something "more" standardized than just coming up with thier own. It'd be funny if they then used say the iPaq one instead.

Can Palm really keep other companies from using their universal connector? The lines are mainly just standard USB and RS-232 lines. Is it patented?

It seems dumb. I would think that more devices using it would encourage 3rd party peripheral development, and thus be a positive.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:46:02 PM #
So do I.


I think all IO ports on a Palm powered device should stick to some form of standard.

Pocket PC and Handera have it right when they include CF for periphial accesories. Palm should do the same and forget about making SD a standard for periphials. It would take an act of God for Palm to spur up enough interest for hardware manufacturers to flock to this rather than stay with CF.

While SD IO is now a standard, it is far from industry adoption.

having a STANDARD periphial port accross all Palm PDA's would probably help compete with M$ too since users on that end could switch over to Palm and bring along their accesories and leave that brick behind for land fill ;)

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/30/2002 9:13:17 AM #
> While SD IO is now a standard, it is far from industry adoption.

Huh? All the new Palms, HandEra, Pocket PC devices, and some of the Linux devices have SD. CF is nice, but too big for devices in the m50x form factor.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/30/2002 7:45:34 PM #
I'm referring to the SD slot being used as an IO (periphial) port, not just memory.

Keep in mind also that even though SD is smaller than CF. The hardware required for most add ons often fit WITHIN the CF housing, where as the same periphial on a SD card will of course NOT fit inside a tiny SD card housing. Thus the actual size of SD add ons compared to CF add ons may be identical.

I persoanlly love CF for periphials with my H330. most of the add on is protected and firmly secured within the slot istead of sticking out too much and creating a break point.

Besides, using SD for a hardware add on will rob you of memory expansion at that time. Imagine using a SD GPS, but no memory available to store the maps.

RE: New HandEra?
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/6/2002 2:29:48 PM #
Since Palm's hardware group is now a separate entity from the OS group, all bets on sharing hardware are off. Handera will likely have to do what Handspring did and develop their own USB connector or license Handspring's if Palm won't license their universal connector. I'm wondering how that will affect being able to get peripherals for a new Handera device, seeing as I haven't seen WIDESPREAD support for QVGA opposed to Sony's lame (by comparison) hi-res implementation.

'''Within the Coming Year''

robrecht @ 1/29/2002 12:19:39 PM #
Hi, Ed.

I have a question about "within the coming year." Does that mean 2003, within the next 12 months, or by Christmas of this year or sooner?

At any rate, if this develops into a Handera 330c, it is great news for those who appreciate the need for maximum expansion options and the special needs of vertical markets, especially the need for viewing landscape spreadsheets, huge medical texts, wireless prescribing, and voicenotes. Though surely some will complain about form factor, plastic cases, MP3, and gaming.


Thanks, Robrecht

RE: '''Within the Coming Year''
Ed @ 1/29/2002 12:45:10 PM #
> I have a question about "within the coming year." Does that mean 2003,
> within the next 12 months, or by Christmas of this year or sooner?

I took it to mean "within 2002". It's January so even if they meant "within the next 12 months", the two are almost synonymous.

I wouldn't use the phrase "within the coming year" to describe 2003. I might if this was December but not in January.

---
News Editor

RE: '''Within the Coming Year''
robrecht @ 1/29/2002 12:54:04 PM #
Thanks Ed. Is it still January? Feels like September.

Thanks, Robrecht

Why not 320x480?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:06:29 PM #
Hmm...240x320 16-bit color w/ soft graffiti is pretty good, but why not just go all the way and combine the larger usable area of the Handera with the higher resolution (pixels per inch) of the Sony Clie? Then you can get 320x480.


RE: Why not 320x480?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:11:10 PM #
I agree wholeheartedly, I currently have the Sony N760C and I love the hi-res screen but a soft grafitti area would only make it better. it's just too bad that palm didn't do the liscencing of this tech otherwise we'd be sure to see it included in future versions of the OS.

Ryan

RE: Why not 320x480?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:15:56 PM #
I thought it SAID high-resolution ("The newest Epson LCD Controller, which has HandEra support, offers up to 320 by 320 screen at 16-bit color, though the QVGA standard is 240 by 320.")

Is 240x320 consider medium or higher resolution versus 320x320?


RE: Why not 320x480?
robrecht @ 1/29/2002 1:18:42 PM #
I think the real key is brightness and contrast. As much as I want to upgrade from my IIIc, I still gotta say its screen is incredibly readable indoors. The SONY screens are rather dark by comparison, though I haven't been able to judge their readability with the thin font fix.

Thanks, Robrecht
RE: Why not 320x480?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:35:38 PM #
Just my $0.02, but I really dislike the soft grafitti area. I've suffered through it on PPC and found it very annoying. The bottom portion of the screen becomes useless in many situations, and when it is useful, the pop-up entry window always seems to be blocking the view at the wrong time. I found myself always 'hiding' or 'showing' the entry window to get work done. That's lots of extra taps and confusion when there's real work to be done. I prefer the consistency of the separate, fixed, grafitti area.

RE: Why not 320x480?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:53:16 PM #
I do agree that the PPC 'virtual graffiti' is annoying, but the 330 is much better. Do you own a 330 or are you just assuming it is like your PPC?

Although a lot of programs don't yet support the virtual graffiti, it works quite nice when they do, and doesn't bother me when they don't. My graffiti skill has improved quite a bit because now I can see my strokes and what I am doing wrong ;)

RE: Why not 320x480?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:55:10 PM #
do you know how much of a powerdrain that would be? if you thought ppc's were bad this would take twice as much computing power.

RE: Why not 320x480?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 2:14:47 PM #
> I prefer the consistency of the separate, fixed, grafitti area.

Then don't close the virtual one.

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