Your faux Gucci handbag already holds an iPod and a tiny Casio Exilim camera. You need a PDA chic enough to take its place alongside these stylish tech toys, without flattening your alligator-skin wallet. The PalmOne Tungsten E is your PDA, baby.

The Tungsten E’s sleek silver case is reminiscent of the earlier Palm V, with rounded edges and a slight flare at the bottom. Like its predecessor, the Tungsten E trades features for a streamlined look and the ability to fit into a shirt pocket with ease. It weighs just 4.6 ounces. The Tungsten E’s trim size, combined with its simplicity of design, give it a visual allure not often found in handhelds.

The front face of the Tungsten E sports just five buttons: a five-way navigation control plus four buttons that provide direct access to the calendar, contact list, to-do list, and notepad (which lets you scribble notes and doodles using digital ink). Four silk-screened icons on the sides of the Graffiti 2 writing area provide shortcuts to the home screen, menu bar, HotSync application, and search tool.

The Tungsten E’s power button is located on the top right edge. It’s slightly recessed and requires a very deliberate push in order to turn the Palm on or off. Next to the power button is a headphone jack. The Tungsten also includes an internal speaker, but sound quality is tinny and quiet. Even with headphones, the Tungsten delivers subpar sound, although it does have the ability (lacking in earlier Palms) to play MP3 and video files with the included Kinoma Player and RealOne Mobile Player.

The top edge also includes the Tungsten E’s sole connectivity option, an infrared window, and a Secure Digital card slot for adding memory or accessories. This Palm lacks any other wireless networking option, and the absence of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is particularly glaring.

Inside, the Tungsten E is powered by a mere 126MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 311 processor. Thanks to the efficiency of the operating system (Palm OS 5.2.1), the CPU’s lack of oomph won’t be noticeable to the average user; applications come up instantly, long lists of contacts reorder in a snap, and even complicated documents display with relative aplomb. The device includes 32MB of RAM, of which 28.3MB is available to the user. Its battery lasted for two hours and 57 minutes of sustained video and audio playback.

The Tungsten E’s 3-inch transflective LCD screen is smaller than many others in this roundup, but its resolution is respectable at 320 x 320 pixels. Although the Tungsten E is capable of displaying 65,536 colors, images didn’t appear especially vivid or smooth-toned. The display is exceptionally bright, however, and text is crystal clear.

Like other Palms, the Tungsten E comes with a desktop organizer, Palm Desktop, for Windows and Mac. It can also synchronize with Outlook on Windows machines. PalmOne throws in Documents To Go Professional Edition 6, which lets you view and edit Word and Excel documents on your handheld without conversion.

The Tungsten E does not include a cradle. To synchronize with your desktop you need to plug in the supplied USB cable, and a separate power cord recharges the unit. It’s a minor annoyance, but disappointing compared with the drop-and-go simplicity of syncing earlier Palms and current Pocket PCs.

Overall, the Tungsten E is a stylish, slim, and functional organizer. Its lack of wireless connectivity and subpar media playback quality mean that it will never rise very far above its station as a glorified Day Runner. While other PDAs are approaching tiny notebooks with their increased computing power and capabilities, the Tungsten E remains coolly aloof. It’s beautiful, but it lacks ambition. -Dylan Tweney

PalmOne Tungsten E
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Size: 4.5 x 3 x 0.5 inches
Specs: 126MHz TI OMAP 311 processor; 32MB of RAM; 3-inch 320 x 320-pixel color TFT; lithium-ion battery; infrared; SD card slot; Palm OS 5.2.1

Rating: * * *

Link: PalmOne Tungsten E

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