Major technology vendors are working together to meld for the first time multiple communications technologies in a handheld.
Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., and T-Mobile USA Inc., of Bellevue, Wash., this week will unveil a handheld device that supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) technologies, HP and T-Mobile officials said last week.
Meanwhile, Motorola Inc. this week will announce the availability for later this year of its CN620 clamshell mobile device, which combines Wi-Fi, IP telephony and cellular technology, said sources familiar with the companys plans.
For data services, HPs iPaq h6315 Pocket PC handheld automatically connects to the fastest-available network or switches networks if a connection is lost. When connectivity changes, users are alerted by an icon on the handhelds 3.5-inch, 16-bit color display. The GSM quad-band connectivity allows users to make international phone calls.
The h6315 is designed so that voice and data services can be used simultaneously. For example, users could make a voice call over GSM using a Bluetooth headset while e-mailing over Wi-Fi on the snap-on keyboard that ships with the handheld.
The new phone does not come bundled with any voice-over-IP software, but a T-Mobile spokesman said that third-party VOIP clients such as Skype will run on it. Voice calls made over a wireless data network would not count against a users allowance of voice minutes, the spokesman said.
The handheld also includes a built-in VGA camera, and a camera-free version is available for security-sensitive corporate customers.
The $499 iPaq ships Aug. 26 (click here for a slideshow of the h6315). T-Mobile will offer bundled services for voice, unlimited data—including e-mail, instant messaging, SMS (Short Message Service)—and unlimited access to its 7,000 Wi-Fi hot spots.
Observers say the time may be right. IT manager Michael Skaff, with AdSpace Networks Inc., in Burlingame, Calif., and an eWEEK Corporate Partner, agreed that the device is compelling. “I love that theyre consolidating the services and finally utilizing a lot of the wireless technologies out there,” Skaff said. “It could give an edge for a lot of road warriors out there who need to be connected constantly.”
Motorola officials in Schaumburg, Ill., would not comment on the plans.
HP on Monday also rolled out a new iPaq handheld computer designed specifically for business users.
Fueled by a 624MHz Intel XScale processor, the iPaq 4700 has 135MB of available memory. It includes built-in HP ProtectTools security software for data encryption and authentication.
It has a 4-inch VGA display, for easier viewing of business presentations, and a touchpad controller instead of a stylus, for easier navigation of data, said HP officials.
The iPaq 4700 is compatible with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies and includes software that allows users to wirelessly print documents to Bluetooth-compatible printers.
The 4700, slated to ship this fall, costs $650.
Ellen Muraskin contributed to this story.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information about the iPaq 4700 and the h6315s VOIP capabilities.