Palm Computing, maker of hand-held computers, has brought its new high-end personal digital assistants (PDA) to Greater China, but has left out its budget Zire hand-held. The Tungsten T and Tungsten W PDAs running a Chinese-language version of the latest Palm OS 5 were launched on Tuesday in Taipei. But nowhere to be seen was Palm's Zire series of cheaper PDAs, run on Palm OS 4.1. The low-price Zire m150, introduced last month in the United States, is considered to be a likely favourite in the price-sensitive mainland market. For the past year analysts have forecast tough times ahead for PDAs, claiming that those who are likely to want a PDA would have already bought one, while the hand-held replacement market was not as big or fast-growing as the markets for mobile phones and personal computers. Worldwide hand-held shipments dipped more than 2 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, according to Dataquest. Globally, 2.55 million PDAs were shipped in the third quarter, down from 2.62 million in the year-ago quarter, continuing the downward trend seen in the second quarter. A low-cost, no-frills alternative, with the bare-minimum applications is a way for Palm to lure new customers. The Tungsten T retails around the world for US$499, while the Zire starts at US$100. Palm officials were cagey about the absence of the Zire from the Chinese-language market. 'We're evaluating it for the market here,' said Jim Engleson, Palm's international product manager. 'As it is, I don't think it would work,' he said, although he thought it could be successful in the future. The high-end Tungsten series features colour screens, built-in Bluetooth and 16 megabytes of Ram. It is powered by an ARM- based OMAP1510 processor from Texas Instruments which runs at 175 megahertz. The internal flash Rom, which stores the operating system and system information, is believed to have been doubled from four megabytes to eight megabytes for the international version. By contrast, the Zire has a monochrome screen, only 2MB of Ram and a Motorola DragonBall processor running at 16Mhz. The difference in memory and processing power appears to be the key behind the lack of a Chinese-language version of the Zire. Mr Engleson confirmed that a Chinese-language operating system required greater system resources, but would not discuss whether this was holding back the Zire from a Chinese-language operating system. While wary of talking about system resources, Mr Engleson did not deny the Zire would be unable to support the extra burden brought by running a Chinese-language operating system. He did, however, confirm that the Zire was made by Taiwan's Inventec, the same company that makes Apple's iPod MP3 player. The maker of the Tungsten line is also believed to be Taiwanese, with Asustek having been confirmed as the winner of an order for new Palm PDAs to be released next year using Intel's PXA processors. Having split its business into devices and operating systems, Palm continues to dominate the operating-system market, but is struggling in the device sector. The release of the Tungsten series, aimed at power users, and the Zire, aimed at budget users, is seen as a key step in the fortunes of its device business.