Palm Tungsten T

The Palm Tungsten T is the first Palm-branded device to use Palm OS 5. Palm OS 5 is not a huge departure from OS 4, but it does provide support for ARM-compliant processors, as well as enhancing multimedia capabilities and security options. Most OS 4.x applications will run just fine on
OS 5.

Physically, the TT is similar to the m500 series, but with some important changes. The display resolution has been increased from 160x160 to 320x320. The up/down buttons of previous models have been replaced with a 5-way navigator.

The biggest change in the physical form is the "Slider Design." With the Slider closed, the Graffiti writing area is hidden - and the Tungsten is the most compact Palm ever. When you need the Graffiti area (or the silkscreen buttons alongside it), slide the case open. (See Figures 1 and 2.) If you mostly use your Palm to retrieve rather than enter information, you may find that you rarely need to open the TT to its full size.

Another hardware change is the addition of a decent speaker. While previous Palms could only beep and play cheesy MIDIs, the Tungsten can play real sound and music. It can even give you stereo sound when you plug headphones into the built-in jack.

The TT has built-in Bluetooth capability, allowing wireless connection to other Bluetooth-enabled devices such as mobile phones or printers.

Upgrading to a new model of Palm used to be a painful process, since the connector at the bottom kept changing. With the Tungsten, Palm has stuck to the Universal Connector design that was on my Palm m515 - which means that my m515 peripherals (keyboard, modem) work just fine on the TT.

With the OMAP1510 processor, the Tungsten is the fastest Palm yet. It's really quite wonderful to see how fast applications now pop up on the screen. Like the m515, the TT only has 16MB of RAM. You can add storage with a multimedia card or secure digital card.

The basic applications haven't changed much. You're still limited to 16 categories, notes and memos are still limited to 4K of text, and the To Do List still can't do repeating tasks. It's disappointing to be up to version 5 of the OS and still have these annoying limitations.

The built-in voice recorder is a welcome addition. Just hold down the button on the left side of the TT, and speak in a normal voice. When you're finished talking, release the button. You can add a title to each voice memo - by default, the title is the date and time that the recording was made. When you HotSync, the sound files are transferred to the desktop as WAV files.

When the Tungsten is off, pressing the center button of the 5-way navigator will display the time briefly.

This simple function has been available in the m100 series of Palms for a while, and I was really pleased to see it added to the high-end Palm.

When the slider is closed, the silkscreen buttons (Applications, Menu and Find) are not accessible. However, the 5-way navigator can be used for some functions for which you previously needed to use the stylus. You can press Up or Down to scroll an entire screen of records. Press Select (the center button of the navigator) to show the selection highlight onscreen. Once the selection highlight is displayed, press Up or Down to move one record at a time, then press Select again to open the record.

Also, the Address Book has been modified so that you can search for entries without using the stylus. When you're in the Address Book, press Right on the Navigator to open the Quick Look Up line. Here, you can use Up/Down to select letters of the name you're looking for, and use the Select button to open the record.

The Tungsten T comes with 2 CDs - one installs Palm Desktop software and the documentation in Adobe Acrobat format, the other is called Software Essentials and includes:

  • Documents To Go: Create, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your Palm. The documents will synchronize to your desktop.
  • MobileDB: simple database program; optional plug-ins allow you to export to Excel or Access.
  • Palm Web Browser Pro: browse the Internet from your Palm; requires a wireless connection to an ISP account.
  • Acrobat Reader for Palm OS: enables you to view Adobe PDF documents on your Palm.
  • other software and games

While the TT has multimedia capabilities, it doesn't include software to play multimedia. It is rumored that there will soon be a new version of RealOne Mobile Player that supports Palm OS 5, but at this writing (late December) it's not yet available. However, there are other solutions to play music (Pocket Tunes and AeroPlayer, available from and video (Kinoma Player, available at

The Palm Tungsten T is a great little device. The 320x320 display is sharp and beautiful, and the faster speed is really nice when running big applications like DateBk5 and Life Balance. The addition of the Voice Recorder and the ability to play Audible books allows me to get rid of two other devices. I'd really like to see more internal RAM and some real updates to the built-in applications, but I'm very happy with my Tungsten. If you're in the market for a new Palm, you should check it out.

© 2003 by Charles M. Olsen