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TechXNY: Toshiba unwraps an array of wireless products

Toshiba made several announcements unveiling its latest wireless hardware and software that will help connect home and business users to the Internet, at the TechXNY show in New York.

Toshiba Computer Systems Group announced a two-year deal with Ascendent Telecommunications to develop a mobile communications platform for Toshiba notebook PCs and PDAs that will link enterprise computer users to their corporate phone system, the company said.

Called MobilityConnect, the system would allow users to access and manage incoming calls received through their corporate PBX through an interface on their notebook PC or PDA.

Based on Ascendent's WirelessConnect technology, the system to be offered by Toshiba will allow multiple wireless devices to be linked to the corporate PBX, extending certain telephony functions to mobile workers.

The initial contract is worth $8.25m (£5.5m) for product development and distribution of Ascendent's WirelessConnect platform, Ascendent said.

Toshiba will also preview its Mobility Communications System, a future technology that should allow users to stay connected to the Internet as they roam across various 802.11b and 3G wireless networks, the company said. The system is due for launch in 2003.

A similar wireless roaming system for business users, called Seamless Office, was also detailed at the show. It enables wireless Toshiba notebooks and PDAs to roam throughout a corporate network while connected to the Internet using 802.11b.

Toshiba also unveiled plans to provide products that bring wireless connectivity to users at public "hot spot" locations.

The Toshiba Wireless Broadband Hot Spot is an all-in-one package of hardware and software that businesses such as hotels, coffee shops and restaurants could purchase to offer fee-based wireless broadband services at their place of business.

Toshiba said it was working with resellers to distribute the product to business customers.

Toshiba's Computer Systems Group also announced new servers, notebook PCs and a Pocket PC handheld computer that pack features geared toward wireless computing.

The latest hardware included the Magnia Z310 wireless server, aimed at large corporate users, which will work with Toshiba's Seamless Office software. Available immediately, the wireless server costs $1,595 (£1,060) for a basic configuration.

It also announced the immediate availability of the Magnia SG20 Wireless Mobility Server, which it is touting as a "portable network-in-a-box". The laptop-sized Magnia SG20 is designed for use by small and medium-sized offices and other business users looking for mobile networking capability.

By adding a wireless PC card, the Magnia SG20 connects wireless-enabled devices to the Internet using 802.11b technology without the need for an external access point. The server hardware is available in single or dual hard-disc drive configurations, includes up to 60Gbytes of storage and runs a version of the Linux operating system. The cost of the server starts at $1,440 (£958), Toshiba said.

For home computer users, Toshiba announced its Magnia SG20 Wireless Media Center, a wireless networking hub that can be used to interconnect a variety of devices in the home. In addition to connecting home PCs to the Internet over a wireless connection, the Media Center can link together PDAs, digital media devices and home monitoring systems.

Toshiba also put on display its latest handheld device based on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system. The e740 features built-in support for 802.11b and an optional attachment to support Bluetooth. The Toshiba Pocket PC e740 is available immediately for $599 (£398), Toshiba said.

Finally, the company said it has enhanced two lines of high-performance notebook PCs -- the Satellite Pro 6100 Series and Tecra 9100 Series -- by adding built-in support for 802.11b and Bluetooth. The systems are due to be available at the end of June, the company said.

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