- High-resolution display with landscape and portrait modes
- Secure Digital and CompactFlash expansion slots
- easy input
- voice recording
- excellent battery life.
- Not all applications support screen rotation
- serial docking connection rather than USB.
Palm's m100-series handhelds have curvier lines, and Handspring's new Visor Edge is thinner, but the HandEra (formerly TRG) 330 forgoes sex appeal in favour of significant and useful innovations. Resembling a chrome version of the discontinued Palm IIIx, the Handera 330 offers a better, more flexible display and interface than other Palm OS devices, as well as enhanced expansion options.
The HandEra 330's most visible innovation is the high-resolution 240 by 320 pixel, 16 grey-scale LCD. This displays roughly three times as many pixels as other Palm OS handhelds, which have 160 by 160 pixel screens. Applications developed for the HandEra 330 can rotate 90 degrees between portrait and landscape modes, which enables you to see, for instance, more spreadsheet columns.
The bundled Quickoffice Microsoft-compatible spreadsheet and word processor support the ability to rotate on-screen content, although the standard personal information management (PIM) applications such as the calendar do not. Still, the crisp image combined with the ability to rotate screen modes makes the HandEra 330 the most visually usable handheld we've seen for applications that don't require colour.
HandEra has also enhanced the 330's input capabilities, borrowing some ideas from Pocket PCs. Like those devices, the 330 features both a button and a jog wheel along its left edge. The button works like a keyboard's ESC key, cycling you through previous screens. The jog wheel acts like an Enter key when you press it and cycles you through records (such as contact entries) when you spin it. Also like a Pocket PC, the 330's Graffiti text-entry characters are visible on-screen, and the unit comes with a voice-recording application plus built-in microphone and speaker.
With both a CompactFlash slot (like a Pocket PC) and a Secure Digital slot (like Palm's new m500 series), the Handera 330 is more expandable than most handhelds. So a vast array of add-ons will work with the device.
By using four AAA batteries, the 330 delivers twice the battery life of its competitors, and a rechargeable battery will be available later this summer. Considering the functionality it packs in, the device weighs a reasonable 167g, including batteries.
Our only complaint about the HandEra 330 is that it uses a slow serial connection instead of USB for its docking cradle. But overall, this innovative device is easier to use, more expandable, and costs about the same as the competing Palm m500 and Handspring Visor Edge. It's a compelling handheld choice if you value power, flexibility, and usability over slimline dimensions or a colour screen.