Pocket PC Supports Phone Capabilities

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2001-01-22

Mitsubishi Corp. and Microsoft Corp. last week announced a Pocket PC with integrated phone capabilities that promises Web browsing and online video viewing. But for now, the device will be available only in Europe.

Dubbed Mondo, the device is similar in design to the Pocket PC from French telco Sagem S.A., which was introduced last November for the European market. Mondo will be sold under the brand Trium, which is what Mitsubishi calls all its telecommunications products in Europe.

Mondo runs Pocket PC, Microsofts newest version of Windows CE for handheld devices. Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are among the companies that support the operating system, but none of the U.S. Pocket PC devices incorporates phone capabilities.

Mondo, due this quarter, will support the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks in Europe. GPRS, due later this year, will allow permanent Internet connectivity for wireless phones and other handheld devices. Mondo runs on a 166MHz processor from Intel Corp.

Officials at Microsoft said that once GPRS is available, customers should be able to fully browse the Web and view video clips on Mondo.

"There are a number of airlink issues in the [United States] that make wireless data less optimal than in other parts of the world," said Mary Brinkley, a spokeswoman for Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash. "We see both Mondo and the Sagem device as great previews of Pocket PC technology that will eventually make its way stateside."

Competitor Palm Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., which markets the most successful handheld organizers in the world, maintains that customers want only the simplest online information from handhelds and arent interested in full wireless Web browsing.

Microsoft, on the other hand, takes the philosophy that customers want their handhelds to look and act like tiny PCs. As such, Mondo includes the usual cadre of business connectivity tools, including not only e-mail and calendaring but also tiny versions of Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and Excel.

On the phone side, Mondo includes integrated GSM/GPRS capabilities, the capacity to host multiparty calls for up to six people and the ability to act as a speakerphone. Users can take advantage of the Pocket PC operating system and call directly from the Pocket Outlook address book.

Pricing for the device has yet to be determined.

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