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Acer s50 and s60 to Be Available Worldwide (Updated)

Last week, it was revealed that Acer would be releasing its two new Palm OS handhelds in Europe. According to Cnet, the s50 and s60 will be available not just in Europe and Asia but worldwide next month. Both models have hi-res, 12-bit, TFT color screens and Memory Stick slots. In addition, the s60 will have a built-in MP3 player and a voice recorder. The s50 will cost $300 and the s60 will be $360 when they become available in September.

Update: Acer has updated its website to include information on the s50 and s60. It confirms that these models will be able to run non-memory Memory Sticks.

However, being incompatible with the Sony hi-res API will prevent these models from using the Memory Stick camera.

They run Palm OS 4.1 on 33 MHz Dragonball processors and have 16 MB of RAM and 4 MB of flash ROM.

The screens are compatible with the Palm OS 5 hi-res API, not the one Sony uses. This means they will not be able to use hi-res applications written specifically for Sony models. However, once handhelds running OS 5 are available, more applications will be written to use the OS 5 hi-res API.

The s60 has some additional hardware to support its audio functions. It has microphone for making voice recordings. It also has an internal speaker plus a headphone jack.

Update 2: Voice recordings are saved as MP3 files on a Memory Stick. According to Acer, a user will be able to store up to 6 hours of voice recordings. This will, of course, depend on the size of Memory Stick.

Both models have a multi-function button on the left side that the user can program to launch any application.

They run off removable, rechargeable Li-ion batteries. Acer says they get three weeks of use between recharges.

Both the S50 and s60 are 4.8 by 3.0 by .5 inches. The s50 is 5 ounces and the s60 is 5.1 ounces. The HotSync port is the same one used on the company's other Palm OS model, the s10.

Update 3: Despite what was written earlier, the Acer subsidiary Benq makes both a clip-on mini-keyboard and a larger folding one for the Acer line. Currently, these are available only in Asia but will hopefully be distributed more widely as these new models are.

Acer already offers the s10 in both Chinese and English versions. It has a monochrome screen and a built-in voice recorder.

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Long live palm OS

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 10:41:17 AM #
Another company, and another handheld thrown into the mix. Nothing breakthrough but it looks like these should be great handhelds. With all this competition the Palm OS seems to be thriving as never before. What is a great thing for all of us.
RE: Long live palm OS
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 11:36:30 AM #
Another chump, you mean. Does any one else see this as an interesting move by Sony? Acer is now competing head-to-head with Sony, and they've got Sony's blessing for it. This is a big move by Sony to promote the memory stick format beyond their own products, which is interesting in itself, but more interesting because its being done on the Palm platform which Sony already is the big mover-and-shaker in. I don't know how Acer can compete with Sony, but my guess is that Sony gave them good terms on the memory stick license, and will continue to do so as long as Acer isn't a real competitor. Of course the irony is that only by being a real competitor would Acer promote the memory stick platform.
RE: Long live palm OS
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 12:29:56 PM #
Or maybe they are just stuck with it.
RE: Long live palm OS
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 1:58:11 PM #
>Another company, and another handheld thrown into the
>mix. Nothing breakthrough but it looks like these
>should be great handhelds.

Couldn't agree more.

12 bit screen?

Moosecat @ 8/21/2002 10:50:45 AM #
Likely story. I bet it only has 11 bits.

But seriously, folks, I think these look pretty cool: small, hi-res, and MP3-capable. The lack of peripheral compatibility is a serious issue, though. Also, Acer -- with its relatively slight name recognition in the general market -- may have trouble making inroads in a market with competitors named Palm and Sony.

Not sure how I feel about the Memory Stick issue. I think that as SD/MMC makes its way into more consumer devices and prices fall, it will be increasingly problematic to be stuck with Sony's own baby.

RE: 12 bit screen?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 11:02:29 AM #
The thing with MemoryStick is, if you already have a lot of other gadgets (persumably Sony) that uses MemoryStick you would prefer that your PDA does too. Just image if you had a MS digicam or a videocam with digi capabilities. Just take the photo and put it into your Clie or Acer to view. They also have DVD and TVs that takes MS, and not all of them are from Sony.

In a perfect world, we'd all be using one flash format. Frankly that isn't going to happen any time soon. There are companies who still doesn't want to give up SmartMedia and have actually extended it into a newer format.

RE: 12 bit screen?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 11:21:04 AM #
Sigh...another day, another new model, another new perhpheral connector, another new series of compatability problems.

Do you see my point? Palm OS/Palmsource are never going to achieve world domination, much less wide-spread penetration of the US market if this nonsense keeps up. Greedy manufacturers, only concerned about making a few quick bucks by selling us new cases and styli and cradles each time around have no long-term vision. Sony can afford to keep this up, but the others cannot. Sooner or later, people are going to catch on that this is an endlessly vampiric game of trying to suck the loyal customers dry...and alienating those potential new users. Imagine the confused middle-aged buyer tring to fathom why the equally clueless compusa salesperson is telling him that the m125 is so drastically different from the m105 swo that they cannot use the same cradles/styli. Or, trying to deduce if an m515 will use acessories that only say m500/505 on the packaging. Just think how much Palm has spent updating their MMC card and UC acessory packaging to reflect the new UC-compatible m1xx series and m700s.

For example, the rash of 12 bit screens on the market recently (m130, Treo 90, Acers) will now require some company like Astraware to program their games in 3 versions (Zap 2000, 2012, and 2016, for example) or run the risk that Joe 6-pack thinks Astraware cannot program games properly because his game has all sorts of nasty dithering on the screen. Then there's the fun with Sony high-res OS4 devices vs Handera high-res vs. Acer's OS5 API on an OS 4 device...so if a developer wants to support everything, he has to release 6 "tweaked" versions of his same game/app (or run the risk of having bloated code).

On top of that, we have the fun job of trying to keep track of which units support I/O card functions and which ones do not. Furthermore, there is the amusing task of downloading program updates etc. and the slew (i'm pretty sure) of updates which will be needed by some legacy programs to run on OS 5.

Finally, a minor but worrying aspect is the new upcoming low-end Palm device. If its specs are as rumored, then how are all of the existing games/apps going to handle the 2 missing buttons? Can the plastic buttons and their necessary switches/wiring cost THAT much to Palm in the long run? If they are trying to target the teen/youth market with this device, then they are going to be pretty bummed when their new gadget they got for graduation won't play any action game that requires all of the hardware buttons. Now, if there was a fully integrated D-pad and only 2 "action" buttons....

My post here is not really about the Acer handhelds per se (they look to be quite nice, actually), but rather a statement about what is happening to the industry in general. I think that instead of whining about having a voice recorder or not, or the styling of a new unit, we should be worried about streamlining the standards and increasing compatability across the board, regardless of manufacturer. Perhaps if Palm were to release the UC standard for free...but that will never happen!

RE: 12 bit screen?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 3:04:47 PM #
It doesn't require a new version of any software. 12-bit screen is hardware, not software. So it can still run any 16-bit apps, they just don't look as good as if they were on a real 16 bit-capable screen.

Thomas Wilburn

RE: 12 bit screen?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 4:17:01 PM #
Moosecat wrote:
"Also, Acer -- with its relatively slight name recognition in the general market -- may have trouble making inroads in a market with competitors named Palm and Sony."

Only on your side of the pond. You've got to realize that the USA market, although currently the largest, is not the largest _potential_ market. Acer is already producing a Chinese OS Palm and already has Asian name recognition. I keep trying to remind people that China is really big and has a whole lot of people. You've got to think outside your borders.

RE: 12 bit screen?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 4:34:29 PM #
While you have a point that I agree with (the device manufacturers should spend more time on standards), your examples are not quite accurate.

Palm OS does not support 12-bit. Currently, pixels are either 1-, 2-, 4-, 8-, or 16-bit. Therefore, at the software level, nothing's different; developers don't need to make separate 12- and 16-bit versions of their applications, and it's not even possible if they wanted to.

The conversion from 16-to-12 bit occurs in hardware; the least significant bits of each color get dropped. For all we know, the hardware might even be doing some fancy spatial and/or temporal dithering to create the illusion that it's displaying more colors than it really is. With 320x320 pixels crammed into an area of around 2x2 square inches, you probably wouldn't even notice good spatial dithering all that much.

Regarding the various screen resolution APIs. First, there are only four main contenders: Sony's high-resolution API; PalmSource's high-density API; Handera's QVGA API; and the standard, vanilla 160x160 stuff (which technically isn't its own API, but nevermind that). (I frankly don't consider Handera's QVGA API to be much of a contender anyway.) Note that you don't need separate OS4 high-density and OS5 high-density versions. Applications programmed correctly (that check if a device supports high-density independently of the OS version) shouldn't care.

Second, no one forces developers to support each API. If developers want to support Sony's High-Resolution API or Handera's QVGA API, that's their choice. They need to determine if supporting non-standard APIs is worth the time and cost. Many have decided that it's not.

I'm not sure what you mean by "we have the fun job of trying to keep track of which units support I/O card functions and which ones do not". Properly programmed applications can determine whether a device supports external storage easily without checking the device's model.

RE: 12 bit screen?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 1:54:34 AM #
Ok, thanks to everyone for setting the facts straight about 12-bit color for me--that's it's handled in hardware and not in software. I'm not a programmer (far from it!), merely just a loyal Palm OS user whose head has begun to swim from so many standards and confituations on the market!

I think that my point was trying to play devil's advocate and show everyone here how confusing the market has become for the average non-techie user. Say, someone who installs an app or game here and there but doesn't get down to the nitty gritty like PIC readers do.

As far as the comment about card slots supporting I/O, it was not really from the standpoint of an app being programmed to recognize whether or not a device is properly enabled, but rather just of a user being able to say "Unit X can support such-and-such whereas unit Y from the competition cannot". This basically goes along with my friend (who works at Best Buy) saying how many returned AGP cards they get from customers furious that it will not fit into the AGP slot-less E-machines/Intel 810-based computers.

For example, using my SD/MS I/O comment, say Joe Consumer wanted to buy a bluetooth Sd card or GPS memstick....assuming they were readily on the market and available at any good mass merchandiser. Joe Consumer would have no way (unless the card's packaging is very concise and he reads the fine print) of knowing that his Treo 90 cannot accept the bluetooth that his friend's m500 Palm is using. You se my point now? Or if "Joe" wants to borrow the BT card for a few days to see how he likes it on his Treo. Same scenario if someone with the new Acer unit wants to try his buddy's Sony memorystick camera/GPS card.


I was just using the further confusion regarding the recent stories of confusion over 12/16 bit screens and whether or not an expansion slot support I/O cards to further my argument about someone needing to set some standards for this market.

At any rate, thanks for educating me about the finer aspects of dithering. One more question, though, can the Sony Clie NR series screens be considered yet another API or does that not really count since there are no apps that support the screen in its full non-Grafitti size/resolution?

What would be pure genius on Acer's part, IMHO, is if they utilized the Sony T-series connectors on the bottom of their new units. This would go a looong way to providing a breath of stability to the market and would certainly encourage manufacturers of peripherals to not be to hesitant about releasing new products (Stowaway keyboards etc) when new handhelds are released. I bought my m505 when it first came out last year and I recall waiting for what seemed like *forever* for UC cables and accessories to be released--anyone remember the eternity we waited for the official Palm hard case to come out? Let's encourage some standardization here, folks!

high density
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 3:10:44 AM #
actually, implementing support for the different screen sizes/apis is the matter of only a few lines of code. check out Memorix 2.02 (www.palmside.com) - it supports standard, sony hires, handera qvga and palmos5 high density (this is done by checking the version of the window manager. if it is >=4, the high density api is available).

Voice Recorder?

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 10:58:52 AM #
Finally a voice recorder on a color PALM os handheld.
RE: Voice Recorder?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 11:29:38 AM #
Yes, this is a very welcome addition. As is the replaceable battery and decent up-down button. I'm hoping Sony will suit as these devices are missing a jog dial, something I am NOT willing to give up.
RE: Voice Recorder?
ahecht @ 8/21/2002 11:57:50 AM #
Not only that, but a handheld company finally realized that mp3/voice capability is only worth $60. It is silly for an mp3 add-on to cost more than an mp3 player.

RE: Voice Recorder?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 6:46:40 PM #
Forget voice recording, would be a better device if it had Bluetooth and used SD instead of crappy Memory Stick. The fact it apparently won't be able to use MS I/O cards is a big mistake. Same with the Treo 90 not using SDIO (I know, it's "coming", but so is the GPRS upgrade to Treo 180 owners).
RE: Voice Recorder?
ahecht @ 8/21/2002 8:36:36 PM #
No one said it can't use MS I/O. They only said it can't use the MS camera because of different display standards. The jury is still out on whether or not it could use devices such as bluetooth or 802.11b mem sticks.

MP3 Player
orb2069 @ 8/21/2002 9:24:58 PM #
I have yet to see a $60 player that has a user interface that's even half as good as the WORST UI on a PalmOS machine - Buy one of those $60 CD-based players and try doing something 'complicated' (Like, say, playing the second Clash song in the third subdirectory, or programming a play list) without reading the directions.

As example, on my ($80 when I bought it) Audiophase DM9118, to get to the second song in the third subdirectory:
[File/dir 9 "Space"]
[File/dir 9 "Space"]
[>> 3 G H I]

[File Search/Enter]
[File/dir 9 "Space"]
[ [] 2 D E F]
[File Search/Enter]
...And that's assuming that you KNOW off the top of your head where what you want is, on this disk.

It can do playlists, but I'll be damned if I can remember how without the manual in front of me, which is kind of the point.

If you know of a $60 MP3 player with a good interface, et me know about it, and I'll think about giving you the Audiophase as a gift.

Or maybe that would be a curse. Whatever. :)

RE: Voice Recorder?
useybird @ 8/21/2002 11:04:29 PM #
"802.11b mem sticks."

Who needs to wait for that to come out when the portable wireless can opener is coming one month before the 802.11b MS's come out.

----------------------------------------
Alcoholic: Person with an Alcohol problem.

Workaholic: Person with a Workahol problem.

Why OS 4.1

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 11:03:55 AM #
Why would any company release a unit running Palm OS 4.1 now...? I would expect a lot of publicity from Palm once the new OS hits... and certainly I wouldn't want to be an outdated device that can't be upgraded to the latest OS.
RE: Why OS 4.1
EDisk1353 @ 8/21/2002 11:11:43 AM #
My guess is that the OS 5 handhelds aren't going to hit the rest of the world at exactly the same time. So while OS 4.1's days might be numbered in America, we don't know that it might have months more to live somewhere else.

RE: Why OS 4.1
Liam @ 8/21/2002 11:22:33 AM #
Where is OS 5? When will somebody release a device with it? I feel bad for all of those that said they were going to wait.

Acer? ZZZZZzzzzz.....

RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 12:31:21 PM #
Simple.
Because there is still a thriving market (and will be)
for OS4x devices.
It has already been made clear that at leat initially, OS5 devices will be all or mostly high-end.


OS 4? NO MORE!!!
Foo Fighter @ 8/21/2002 1:45:38 PM #
Good gravy! Enough with this OS4/Dragonball hardware already! Are we EVER going to see OS5 before the end of this year? I've been holding of purchasing a new PDA for ages, just to wait for the next generation hardware, and so far I have seen NOTHING come down the pipe.

Palm, and licensees, have already missed the back to school season. If they don't release new products soon, they are going to waste a sizable portion of the holiday shopping season as well!

RE: OS 4? NO MORE!!!
mentalsrule @ 8/21/2002 2:07:19 PM #
actually the back to school season is from mid august, to early september, i havent even started schoool, let alone by supplies.

you should buy something, and get an upgrade plan from best buy or CC.

just because OS is out, doesnt mean its going to be released for us right away, give it some time, and stop being so impatient, or it will never make it here.

____________________
Ever notice how fast Windows runs?

Neither did I.

RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 2:09:24 PM #
By supporting the OS 5 hi-res API, plus MP3 recording and playback, this device covers many of the features of OS 5 devices with good compatibility.
RE: OS 4? NO MORE!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 2:32:36 PM #
No kidding. OS5 should have been out by now. Let's hope that we see it by October in time for the xmas push, otherwise we can predict that M$ will get a big share of the sales this year.
RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 3:06:49 PM #
> otherwise we can predict that M$ will get a big share of the sales this year.

Wow! You mean they might get over 20%?

RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 5:15:32 PM #
WTF, Handera 330 is still on OS3.5.3 so even an OS 4.0 would be an upgrade let alone OS4.1. The 5 guys who still own one are still patiently waiting for hell to freeze over and Handera OS4.0.
nice pda, but where's OS5?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 6:27:05 PM #
Where's OS5? I wonder who will be the first with a OS5 handheld to market?
RE: nice pda, but where's OS5?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 7:49:17 PM #
Yeah! Where's OS5!
Handera first with OS 5.0 device
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/21/2002 9:13:38 PM #
I think Handera will release the first OS 5.0 device w/ color. That would explain all the secrecy and also explain why they skipped over OS 4.0, 4.1 etc...


RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 12:17:32 AM #
Ok guys, heres the news you all wanted to hear. My husband works for handera, and he told me that they have a Handheld that has the hi res (320x320) palm with virt. grafiti, with OS5 this device will be the first (after palm) os5 handheld.
RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 1:21:46 AM #
That is an interesting rumor, "anonymous". But nothing that most of us not married to a HandEra employee couldn't come up with. Do you have anything to back it up? How about a pic or two?
RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 2:25:28 AM #
Hmm.. im sure you would want some pictures, but my husband works there, but thats all he said. He did say also that there will be two versions One with the SD/CF slot like the current 330 and another one with the CF slot and either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
where is os 5?
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 3:30:30 AM #
what are you talking about? palm os 5 should be out by now? hey! palm os 5 IS out by now! and i dont think a good device can be designed and manufactured and tested and everything within a month (if you dont want to buy crap).

why they still are selling 4.1? i heard of devices being released in fall that have monochrome displays and 4.1 - hey, there's already color! yes, but they still make monochrome devices. why? because people want it! maybe you dont want it, but people do!

the os 5 needs arm processors. they are much more powerful than the current dragonballs. thus, they also "eat" more than the dragonballs. like color "eats" more than monochrome. and some customers are not the gadgetgeeks and gamefreaks we all are, they just want to have the battery full as long as possible

RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 6:30:59 AM #
dangit! I kept my Sony Clie Peg320 and didn't buy the NR70V cuz i was like "Imma wait for the OS5 devices".... waiting, i shoulda bought the NR70V, at least i'll have the color screen.
HandEra and OS 5
Ed @ 8/22/2002 7:43:24 AM #
When I interviewed Mark Kubovich, HandEra's president, back in February, he said his company would certainly be releasing a handheld running OS 5, though he wouldn't go into specifics.

---
News Editor
RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 9:57:51 AM #
Re: the HandEra running OS5, unless HandEra plans to get out of the business entirely, we could have expected as much. Actually I'm more interested in the reported "hi-res" screen (320x320 vs. QVGA). If HandEra drops their QVGA screens, the 330 is dead overnight. But I certainly think it is the right move for them to make if they intend on staying in the game.
RE: Why OS 4.1
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 8:20:03 PM #
"and he told me that they have a Handheld that has the hi res (320x320) palm with virt. grafiti, "

Hmmmm - if it has virtual graffiti AND supports os 5 hi-res API, wouldn't it have to be 320x480?

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