Tuesday, May 1, 2001

HandEra 330 brings innovations to the Palm OS


By Steve Niles

On April 23, 2001, TRG Products, Inc. officially announced it had changed its name to HandEra, Inc. (at http://www.handera.com), a move designed to provide the company with a new corporate image reflecting their "renewed commitment to delivering next-generation handheld computing products." To reinforce that point, on that very same day, the company announced a next-generation handheld computing product, the HandEra 330, pictured in Figure A.


The HandEra 330 is a high-end, flexible Palm OS-based handheld. (click for larger image)

HandEra, the company formerly known as TRG Products, has been a player in the handheld market since 1992, delivering such software as FlashPro, ImagePro, and InstallPro, and hardware such as last year's TRGpro, their first Palm OS handheld. With its CompactFlash slot, the TRGpro was always unique among Palm OS devices. Now its successor, the HandEra 330, continues the company's tradition of cutting-edge innovation by bringing together the best features from a variety of handhelds, ranging from Palm OS devices to Pocket PCs, while at the same time adding some new features of their own. In the end, they created one amazingly packed little gadget.

PalmPower's full review of the HandEra 330 will be appearing in an upcoming issue, but for now, let's get right to it and check out some of the cool features they've built into this slick little device.

High resolution screen

The HandEra 330 has a twenty-five percent larger viewing screen (240 x 320 display) and three times more pixels than the average Palm OS device. The programs we've seen running with this increased screen resolution look really crisp and sharp. I'm curious, though, as to whether or not there will be problems with certain applications designed for 160 x 160 screens. Might there be a tendency for them to crash as they attempt to interpolate the way the pixels should be extended? And how will the larger screen affect the ability to take screenshots from the device? This is definitely an area we'll be keeping an eye on for you in the future.

The HandEra 330 also offers a Virtual Graffiti area that knocked my socks off the first time I saw it. You can tap on the little arrow near the center of the Graffiti input, and the entire Virtual Graffiti area drops out of sight to give you additional screen real estate. This is great for ebook reading. In fact, if you're reading ebooks or viewing spreadsheets, you can also rotate the screen to a horizontal landscape mode for an improved viewing experience, a feature reminiscent of the old Apple Newton.

One other benefit of the Virtual Graffiti area is the fact that it has inking ability. The motion of your Graffiti stroke is temporarily highlighted, which has increased my accuracy enormously. Another cool aspect of the Virtual Graffiti area is that when you switch to the soft keyboard, it simply replaces the Graffiti area, as opposed to taking up additional screen space.