HP and Gateway announce PDAs for Windows Mobile Software 2003

Gateway and Hewlett-Packard are unveiling handheld devices today to coincide with the launch of Microsoft Windows Mobile Software...

Gateway and Hewlett-Packard are unveiling handheld devices today to coincide with the launch of Microsoft Windows Mobile Software 2003, an update of the Pocket PC operating system.

The announcement marks Gateway's entrance into the handheld market, but its PDA will not ship until next month. HP has several new iPaq models that feature integrated Bluetooth wireless technology and SDIO (secure digital I/O) expansion slots. Other suppliers are expected to refresh handhelds with Microsoft's new operating system.

Gateway's handheld will feature a 400MHz XScale processor from Intel and a 3.5-inch screen, and the company expected to sell the device for between $300 and $350. Gateway will release all of the PDA's specifications when it ships.

All the HP handhelds share integrated Bluetooth technology for short-range wireless connectivity, and all come with printing software which allows users to print documents on Bluetooth or infrared printers, said Cindy Box, director of marketing for handhelds at HP. "With our new launch, we've got the broadest range of handheld products than ever before," she added.

HP's devices are largely incremental upgrades over previous iPaqs, said Todd Kort, an analyst with Gartner. But there are important new features to note, such as the use of Bluetooth, SDIO, and transflective displays across all of the new models.

HP's h1940 is the same size and weight as the older h1910 PDA, but HP switched to a 266MHz processor from Samsung Electronics for the new handheld, Box said. The h1910 uses a 200MHz XScale processor. The Samsung chip offers performance in between that of a 300MHz XScale and a 400MHz XScale processor, but provides a better value than the 400MHz chip, she said.

Samsung's processor integrates the graphics controller and memory management functions directly onto the chip, which cuts down on the number of components needed on the PDA's motherboard, Box said.

The h1940 comes with a 3.5-inch screen and 64M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM). The device measures 4.46 inches high by 2.75 inches wide by .5 inches thick (11.3cm by 7.0cm by 1.3cm), and weighs 4.37 ounces (124 grams).

It will cost $299 in the US, but a lower-priced version called the h1930 will be available outside the US from today and in the US in the third quarter. The h1930 will come without integrated Bluetooth and with a 203MHz Samsung processor.

The h2210 is almost the same size as the h1940, but is slightly larger to accommodate a second expansion slot based on the Compact Flash standard. Many customers need two expansion slots to use devices such as Wi-Fi cards and digital cameras, or to use extra memory.

HP's h2210 will cost $399 with a 400MHz XScale processor, 64Mbytes of SDRAM, and software which allows the device to be used as a universal remote control for televisions or stereos, Box said.

The high-end models, the h5150 and h5550, are based on the original iPaq design. Customers of older iPaqs will be able to use their expansion cards in these models.

Both of these PDAs will come with a 400MHz XScale processor and a 3.8-inch display. The 5150 will use 32Mbytes of flash memory and 64Mbytes of SDRAM for a price of $549. For $649, the h5550 adds an integrated 802.11b wireless chip, a total of 48Mbytes of flash memory and 128Mbytes of SDRAM, and a biometric fingerprint reader for extra security.

HP will release the PDAs through its website and its reseller network, and will release a slightly different version of each of the five handhelds for consumers through retail stores. Those PDAs will come with a different set of software applications more suitable for consumers. The retail models will be known as the h1935, h1945, h2215, h5155, and h5555, and cost the same as the business PDAs.

All of the handhelds will be generally available worldwide over the next two weeks, except for the h1930, which will not be available in the US until later, and the h5150, which HP plans to market more exclusively to businesses in certain parts of the world.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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