HP, Gateway announce PDAs for new Windows OS

IDG News Service |  Hardware

Gateway Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) announced new handheld devices Monday along with the launch of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile Software 2003, an update of the Pocket PC operating system.

As expected, the announcement marks Gateway's entrance into the handheld market, but Gateway's PDA (personal digital assistant) won't ship until July, the company said Monday. Meanwhile, HP announced several new iPaq models that feature integrated Bluetooth wireless technology and SDIO (secure digital I/O) expansion slots. Other vendors are expected to refresh handhelds with Microsoft's new operating system.

Gateway's handheld will feature a 400MHz XScale processor from Intel Corp. and a 3.5-inch screen, and the Poway, California, company expects to sell the device for between US$300 and $350, said Mike Stinson, vice president and general manager of mobile products, in an interview last week. The company will release all of the PDA's specifications when it ships, it said in a release Monday.

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

The range of HP's handheld products is the most impressive part of Monday's announcement, since the new devices themselves are largely incremental upgrades over previous iPaqs, said Todd Kort, an analyst with Gartner Inc. in San Jose, California. But there are important new features to note, such as the use of Bluetooth, SDIO, and transflective displays across all of the new models, he said.

HP's new h1940 is the same size and weight as the older h1910 PDA, but HP switched to a 266MHz processor from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. for the new handheld, Box said. The h1910 currently 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 U.S., but a lower-priced version called the h1930 will be available outside the U.S. as of Monday and in the U.S. in the third quarter, Box said. The h1930 will come without integrated Bluetooth and with a 203MHz Samsung processor, she said.

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