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IPaq Packs Wireless Abilities into PDA-Phone-Camera-GPS Combo
Mercury News via Knight Ridder

Hewlett-Packard is updating its line of mobile handheld devices with a unit that packs four wireless amenities, including WiFi.

The iPaq HW6900 is a PDA-phone combo that will make its debut in the United States in June. Like its predecessors in the 6500 series, it combines a Pocket PC, a phone, a digital camera and a global positioning system (GPS) receiver.

HP is touting the device's new wireless capabilities -- which include WiFi, GPRS for mobile data and Bluetooth -- in addition to the GPS. It's the first time HP has included four wireless technologies in one unit.

``If you can find a wireless signal anywhere, this device will get you connected,'' said Ted Clark, HP's senior vice president and general manager for mobile computing. ``We've never had a product like that, and far as we know there isn't a product like that.''

The device also features Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 so that users can automatically get access to e-mail, calendar items and contacts from their company's Exchange e-mail server.

HP is also planning to allow software from Skype Limited to work on the handheld so that users can make phone calls via WiFi when they cannot access their wireless phone carriers.

The silver rectangular device will look ``very similar'' to previous versions of HP's handhelds. Clark would not discuss pricing for the 6900, nor did he say which wireless carriers it would work with.

Sales of HP's smart-phones so far have lagged behind those from competitors such as Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Palm's Treo.

Andrew Seybold of consulting firm Outlook 4Mobility said HP may have a hard time finding a market for the HW6900 because it could be too expensive for consumers and not handy enough to supplant the BlackBerry among executives and workers. The previous series of iPaqs started at more than $500.

``It's certainly not a consumer product, and it's not a businessman's product,'' he said.

In a related announcement, HP said it is breaking out its handheld business as a separate unit. Until now, it was combined with notebooks as part of the mobility business unit.

``It's a big commitment from HP toward mobile computing across the spectrum and devices we deliver today,'' Clark said.

San Jose Mercury News

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