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HandEra 330: Improving Palm's platform

Making the Palm platform better
— 12:58 AM on July 10, 2001


The 330 is yet another player in the increasingly diverse world of PalmOS-based PDAs. Apart from those manufactured by Palm itself and Palm models rebranded by IBM, there are offerings from Handspring and Sony, as well as a few other players rumoured to be entering the fray in the near future. Can the 330 find its niche in this burgeoning handheld market? What does it have to offer that the others don't? Let's find out.

A silver Palm III?
The 330 looks like a silver and black Palm III. The resemblence isn't a coincidence; the 330 actually has, for the most part, the same form factor as the III. HandEra chose to use the III's form factor primarily for its backward compatibility with a whole slew of accessories currently on the market. Unlike Handspring, who had to wait for the accessory market to catch up with its new handhelds, HandEra owners will have a wide range of compatible devices already available.

Size-wise, the 330 is roughly equivalent to a Palm IIIxe or Handspring Visor Deluxe. It's not as big as a Palm IIIc, but certainly not as svelte as Handspring's Edge or Palm's V or m50x series. The 330 could stand to be smaller, but it's small enough for now. Shrinking the size further would have likley sacrificed some of the extra features we'll discuss later.

The 330 only comes in one color scheme, and fortuantely, it doesn't look too bad. Because this is a corporate device, there is only one color option. There's nothing really daring about the 330's appearance. It's black with a silver faceplate and a black flip cover. The finish isn't quite as nice as what you'll find on a Palm Vx of m50x, nor as "cute" as an iMac-lookalike Handspring Visor, but we don't care about looks, do we?

Side by side with Handspring's Visor Deluxe—virtually the same size

Nine months later, a little Palm VII was born

Though it might look like a Palm III, the 330's hardware is anything but. Running a Motorola Dragonball-VZ processor at 33MHz, the 330 equals any other processor in the PalmOS line. Couple that with 2MB of Flash ROM and 8MB of RAM, and you've got as good a core hardware spec as any other Palm-based device. The 330 has everything else you'd expect from the Palm stable, including an IR port, face buttons, a stylus, and so on. There are a few new and original inclusions, as well, which are significant enough to address one at a time.