Monday, October 1, 2001

The Palm m125 makes expandability affordable

PRODUCT REVIEW

By Steve Niles

On September 20, 2001, Palm, Inc. released a brand new handheld called the Palm m125, the latest addition to the popular m100 series. The Palm m125 is pictured in Figure A.

FIGURE A

The Palm m125 brings expandability to the m100 line. (click for larger image)

The Palm m125 handheld has the same contour shape of the other products in the m100 series, but it sports a unique two-tone Sonic Silver and Dark Black faceplate and a flip cover that has a soft, flexible feel and follows the contour of the faceplate. The Palm m125 uses the latest version of the Palm OS, Version 4.0, and it improves on its predecessors with a faster processor, the Dragonball VZ 33 MHz. It's powered by two AAA batteries and includes 8MB of RAM.

The Palm m100 line was introduced in August of last year. You can read my review of the original Palm m100 in the August 2000 issue of PalmPower at http://www.palmpower.com/issues/issue200008/m100001.html. Palm surveyed a sampling of Palm m100 buyers and discovered a full 95% were first-time buyers, and 25% were under the age of 25. They also noted a higher proportion of buyers were women than was typical of Palm handheld purchasers. To Palm, this was a great success, as women, youths, and first-time buyers were exactly the target audience they were aiming for with this line.

The attraction of the Palm m100 line for this segment of buyers was its durable design, its low cost, and its ability to be customized with a colorful array of interchangeable faceplates like the ones pictured in Figure B.

FIGURE B

The Palm m125 can be customized with interchangeable faceplates.

The Palm m125 retains all these qualities, making it sure to appeal to that same user market. But if it has all the same features as the earlier devices in the m100 series, why should you be interested? What makes the Palm m125 so exciting?

Quite simply, what's most exciting about the device is that it represents Palm's follow-through on some promises made earlier this year. I'll explain.

Migrating technology

When Palm introduced the m500 series back in March, they also introduced a number of important new features, including an SD and MMC (Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard) expansion slot, a Universal Connector, wireless connectivity, and document reader capability.

This is all well and good, but for a large number of users, students for example, the high-end Palm m500 series devices were just too expensive. While the benefits of these new technologies are great (which I'll get to in a moment), a large pool of Palm handheld users were unable to take advantage of them.

Palm did make the claim that they would migrate these key technologies down from the high-end models into the rest of their product lines. At last, the Palm m125 is proof of their coming through on this promise. The Palm m125 has an estimated U.S. street price of $249. The primary features that everyone loves about the m500 series have been carried down into the Palm m125, creating an expandable, connectable, yet very affordable unit.