Paragon Wireless Touts Wi-Fi/Cellular Phone

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2006-06-02 Print this article Print

The company says its "Hipi" dual-mode smart phone is the first to offer both GSM and Wi-Fi capabilites.

Calling its new product the "first commercialized voice optimized dual-mode handset," Paragon Wireless has begun selling its Wi-Fi/cellular dual-mode phone in the United States, starting the week of May 29. Previously, the phone had been available as a test product in China. "Its ready to go to market," said Ilkka Pouttu, vice president of sales and marketing for the company, based in Richardson, Texas. The new phone, called the "Hipi," is a dual-mode phone that uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) for cellular connections, and Wi-Fi for wireless network connections using VOIP (voice over IP) and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol). "Weve tested it in the United States with 30 different SIP infrastructures and converged infrastructure providers," Pouttu said.
The phone supports a complete set of PDA functions, including a Web browser, e-mail, a calendar and a camera. Its based on an Intel PXA271 processor running Linux.
Click here to read about enhancements to the Linux Wi-Fi stack. The phone operates using a touch-pad that works with the press of a fingertip. There are a QWERTY keyboard and a number pad available on the phones touch-screen. The screen will also perform handwriting recognition in English and Chinese, and a stylus is hidden in the bottom of the phone for this purpose. The Hipi also comes with a wealth of smart-phone features, including the ability to record and play video and to play MP3 files. "Its a tri-band phone, using 900, 1800 and 1900MHz," Pouttu said. The phone demonstrated to eWEEK was using the T-Mobile network. To read a review of the Motorola Q smart phone, click here. Pouttu said that for the time being most users would have to choose between making VOIP calls or cellular calls, because while the phone is capable of transitioning seamlessly between either mode of communications, the required central office equipment is still fairly rare. "This is a two-number phone: one cell number and one VOIP number," Pouttu said. "You can handle two types of calls at once. With the right infrastructure, you can have seamless one-number switchover." Pouttu said the biggest challenge for the companys first product turned out to be battery life, but, he said, "Paragon has been able to solve this, and we have patents pending about the battery life. We now get 70 to 100 hours standby time with both radios on." Currently Paragon maintains its engineering and manufacturing operations in China, with just its headquarters staff in the United States. The company said it is planning to license the design to another company when it finds a taker. "We are actually a design house," Pouttu said. "It is not necessary that we go to the market and launch the product under our brand name. We provide a dual-mode solution and integrate that for companies like wireless OEM companies." Pouttu said the company plans to follow the launch of this product with a series of reference designs, including a quad-band GSM phone and a series of CDMA-based (Code Division Multiple Access) phones. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.
Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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