Is it an Indispensable business device or another tool to make you a slave to work? With the new T5 PDA from PalmOne we've given it to two of our reviewers, Stephen Patrick and our Gizmogirl Debbie Davies to find out.



She said: Building a wall to wall multimedia filing cabinet in the middle of your PDA is PalmOne's latest idea to revive the shrinking market for handheld computing writes Debbie Davies. The company's Tungsten T5 handheld comes with 256MB of flash memory, which is nearly double the industry's current handheld storage maximum. The logic is that everyone has so much digital information to carry around with them, and a PDA is the place to keep it.

Whether you use your handheld as a Filofax or a glorified, interactive USB key, PDAs have always been about productivity. The theory is that equipping workers with mobile offices, without the expense and weight of a laptop, makes them more productive and therefore able to work longer hours. Upping the storage on the T5 makes sense. Palm has added a MP3 player but T5s are more likely to fill up with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets than music. Using DataViz Documents To Go and the T5's high-resolution colour screen, Word and Excel documents can be created and edited on the PDA, although plenty of basic functions are missing. We tried spellcheck in Documents To Go - a pretty basic function in a word processor - and were prompted to buy the premium version. PowerPoint files can be viewed and there is an application for viewing pdf files, which we had problems installing.

We also had problems using Bluetooth. We wanted to connect the T5 to our Bluetooth enabled mobile phone but the PDA did not recognise our make of phone (Samsung) and prompted us to download updates. The T5 has no internet connection inbuilt (Wi-Fi was left out on cost grounds, as was the slider design) so when out and about you need to link to a device like a mobile phone if you want to make use of the superior, big screen on the T5 to view attachments sent via email, for example. PalmOne calls this a two piece solution but after failing to download the necessary updates for our phone it proved no solution at all.

He said:PalmOne has tailored its flagship Tungsten T5 model to suit the busy professional seeking a powerful business tool and a media player in a single device writes Stephen Patrick. Such a handheld will likely be bought by the individual rather than the company. Accordingly, the T5's elegant design is attractive without looking like an entertainment-oriented consumer model.

The Tungsten T5's styling is reminiscent of its predecessor, the Tungsten E, and it rests nicely in the palm of your hand. Its plastic casing is sturdy with a brushed-silver effect on front and back, and glossy black on the sides. A headphone jack is conveniently located on the top of the unit.

Providing enough muscle for business and pleasure, the device is powered by the speedy 416MHz Intel PXA270 processor. Office applications as well as MP3s run with ease. The 3.7-inch 65K colour display is bright and clear, with a higher resolution and larger area than most standard PDA screens. Users can drop the Graffiti area to use the entire screen for viewing documents and images. Switching between landscape and portrait mode gives a better view of spreadsheets and video clips.

To get you started, Palm has provided the usual array of software. The Documents To Go application, which is Microsoft Office-compatible, and the Kinoma multimedia player are supplied on a CD-ROM. Set up disks for both PC and Mac are included for setting up the Palm Desktop on your computer.

Even though Palm devices require less memory for applications and files than their Pocket PC rivals, the Tungsten T5's storage is designed in a revolutionary way. It's equipped with 256MB non-volatile flash memory, 215MB of which is user accessible. This provides two advantages over the traditional RAM/ROM setup. Firstly, your files are stored permanently and won't be wiped out if your battery dies. Secondly, your T5 acts as a removable storage device, much like a USB memory key. Connect it to your computer, and it's recognised as an additional drive. You can access files without having to synchronise, unless you wish to update your calendar and contacts. This is a highly useful feature enabling you to use your PDA in a completely new way.

The one drawback of an otherwise excellent PDA is the lack of integrated Wi-Fi. In the same price range, many of the competing devices offer dual wireless, such as the Dell Axim X50v (£289 inc. VAT). The Tungsten T5 does support Palm's SD Wi-Fi expansion card, but that will add roughly £85 to the cost of the unit. Bluetooth and infrared are offered in the way of wireless functionality, so you can still connect to the Internet using your mobile.

Verdict

She said:

PDAs are brilliant if you need to keep track of your life and those around you

writes Debbie Davies. Gone are the days this is just for businesses and girls trying to keep track of their lives. Schools are buying PDAs in large numbers for teachers to use for pupil registration as part of their battle against truancy. I found the stylus works as well as a mouse for repetitive data entry, although less well if you want to write.

The additional memory makes the T5 a very reliable storage device but whether you want to work on hundreds of Word and Excel documents on the go is another matter. This could be a further erosion of your personal space so before saying yes to a T5 consider how much handheld computing you need and how much you want to be able to work away from the office, because if they find out you can, you'll never have any spare time again. I'd give it 6/10

He said: The Tungsten T5 is an elegant device and a jewel in the crown of the PalmOne lineup writes Stephen Patrick. Its superior build quality, excellent display and innovative memory functionality make it a powerful business and entertainment tool. Had it come with built-in Wi-Fi, it would be unstoppable. I'd give it 8/10