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Color Possibility?

Thursday October 28, 1999 - 6:54 PM EST - By James Hromadka

DragonBall VZ

With all of the recent announcements regarding color, many users are wondering what the new Palm operating system (OS) will look like. Others are worried that if they buy a Handspring/Palm/TRG/etc. organizer today, it will be obsolete and worthless next year. Still other users complain that the Palm OS does not need color – grayscale is just fine.

256 Color ExampleThis article will attempt to address these issues and will hopefully give a glimpse of what is to come.

First I will talk about what is known. On October 18, 1999, Motorola announced two additions to its DragonBall line of processors – the 33 MHz DragonBall VZ and the 20 MHz DragonBall EZ. The 20 MHz DragonBall EZ processor is already being used in the new Palm Vx organizer. What really got people talking is the DragonBall VZ.

The DragonBall VZ processor is a 33 MHz processor that is twice as fast as the current 16MHz processors in most Palm OS organizers. It is chip compatible with earlier processors and should not cause compatibility problems except for some games and a few programs that may run too fast.

Palm Computing has used the DragonBall processor from the beginning, and Handspring prefers it as well.

"The DragonBall series’ ideal combination of performance, low cost and ease of integration with the Palm OS helps us make our Visor(tm) handhelds accessible to a broader range of consumers," – Ed Colligan, vice president marketing and sales for Handspring
Ed Colligan is right. The DragonBall processor is very inexpensive. The VZ will only cost $2.50 more than the 16MHz processor. Double the speed and only a few dollars more? I’ll take it!

16 Grays ExampleSpeed and cost are great, but the biggest part of the Motorola announcement was that the DragonBall EZ would have the logic on-board to support color. The DragonBall VZ will support up to 256 colors. Currently, the Palm OS uses 2-bit grayscale. Currently, there are some programs written for Palm OS 3.1 that can use 4-bit grayscale, or sixteen shades of gray. Some would say that grayscale is fine, and that color would not make you more productive. On this page you can find examples of a 256 color picture verus 16 tones of grayscale. While grey is sufficient, 256 would be oh-so-nice.

Now I know what your thinking. “Why would I want to look at pictures on my Palm/Visor?” Most of you may not. But what about instead of number priorities in the To-Do list, the items are color-coded based on priority? Map programs such as Quo Vadis would be much easier to read.

There are many reasons to add color, as long as Palm Computing watches out for the caveats that have in the past came along with color.

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