Dell's next generation of its Axim handheld will include both Wi-Fi and triband radios, allowing users to switch between Wi-Fi networks and CDMA or GSM networks.
The device, due out in 2004, is likely to support 802.11g, which offers backward compatibility with 802.11b and speeds of up to 31Mbps, as well as Bluetooth to permit synchronisation with client devices, including notebooks.
"You could call it a Pocket PC GoodLink or BlackBerry device," said Dell director of wireless product marketing Anthony Bonadero.
"When we went out the door with Good [Technology as a new partner] a couple of months back, we made it very clear we are working with them as well as others to define the next generation of products."
Whether Dell becomes one of the first companies to ship a device that caters to both Wi-Fi and public switched networks is problematic, according to David Hayden, principal analyst at MobileInsights.
"Motorola and Proxim are in a deal to do just about the same thing," he said.
"There are so many different vendors of hot spots that if you have to sign up for your cellular plan, your T-Mobile plan, and your Boingo plan in order to use this, is it really cost-justified?"
On the plus side, Hayden said it would benefit enterprise sales people needing both networks to negotiate the intricacies of closing a major deal, for example.
Dell wants the Axim become a mainstream mobile device. "We see the 2.5G network really starting to mature. GSM is our first choice because of global reach. CDMA is also an alternative," Bonadero said.
he added that users will be able to choose whether to "populate or depopulate" the device with either or both radios, depending on their data or voice needs.
"We do think that this device has to have the ability to browse - internet capabilities - and it has to have voice capabilities," Bonadero said.
Dell also plans to develop a device based on Microsoft's Smartphone platform.
Mark Jones writes for InfoWorld