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Fossil Wrist PDA

Preview Palm device on your wrist

by Shawn Barnett

Posted May 23, 2003

When I first saw the original Wrist PDA prototype in 2000, which allowed users to beam Palm OS data to their watch, I thought out loud to the Fossil rep, "Wow, wouldn't it be nice to have the whole Palm in there." With a note of possibility, he said, "That could happen."

Well, it has. Just a day after Bill Gates declared that .Net will soon include a wristwatch as one of its supported platforms via his SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) initiative, Fossil announced the latest version of its Wrist PDA, this time running a full version of the Palm OS. "It's basically a Zire on the wrist," said Donald Brewer, Vice President of Technology for Fossil.

Like the Zire, the new Wrist PDA has a 160 x 160 screen, and 2MB RAM; unlike the Zire, it has a 33MHz Dragonball processor and a backlit screen. Though it is shown here with four large icons on the display, it can be made to display standard size icons. A small stylus is integrated into the wristband, and Graffiti is written fullscreen, as we've seen with CIC's RecoEcho, since there is no dedicated Graffiti area. Navigation is done either with the stylus or via the Handspring Treo-style toggle. The prototype did not show it, but there will be a USB slot on the back for cradle HotSync, and there is an IrDA window for beaming and HotSync. According to the literature, the device will be fully Palm OS compatible, running standard third-party Palm OS 4.1 applications. As a watch, the Wrist PDA will come with customizable watch faces. It can be an analog-style, or many configurations of digital. The battery will be rechargeable via the cradle and will last approximately four days, based on an average usage model of 30 minutes per day with the backlight off. It will be around 5.7 ounces with the metal band.

Fossil said that there would initially be two brands, the Fossil Wrist PDA, retailing for US$299, and the Abacus Wrist PDA, which would sell for US$199. Both will have metal bands, but the only differences will be cosmetic. There will also be plastic banded models, a relief to we Palm afficionados with hairy arms; these will also be less expensive. The product is expected after the first quarter of 2003. North American models will be followed by Japanese models and then other multilingual models will come available by mid-2003. One of these would be a great backup for those of us prone to losing our Palms. Ahem. Maybe I'd better get two.

-Shawn Barnett

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