Redesigned Palm device due

Santa Clara, California-based Palm will announce next month a $US149 version of its popular Palm personal digital assistant, according to sources familiar with company plans.

Lighter and smaller than the Palm III, the new M100 device will be sized between it and the thinner Palm V and will be offered with a choice of optional snap-on plastic faces in five colors.

The unit will come standard with a synchronisation cable, but sources say there may also be an optional synchronisation cradle.

The lower cost Palm unit reflects a growing price war among PDA (personal digital assistant) manufacturers, according to Tim Scannell, an analyst with Mobile Insights in Mountain View, California.

For example, Franklin Electronic Publishers, in Burlington, N.J., is selling an ebook device, called eBookMan, for $119, including personal information management programs, and HandSpring, already has a $149 model of its popular Visor PDA.

The M100 will be released along with a Palm VIIx, which will come standard with 8MB of RAM and feature a new gray to black plastic finish.

Standard memory for the Palm VII was 2MB. The increased memory gives the VIIx more flexibility without increasing its complexity, according to Scannell "If someone from IT wants a custom app, there is enough space in the draw to do that now," said Scannell.

Beyond the August announcements, no additional products are expected from Palm until after the first of the year, according to sources.

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