HP has added Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to a new line of iPaqs, to be launched later today. the range includes one with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an integrated GSM phone, although it doesn't support voice over Wi-Fi out of the box (see
New devices prolong the Wi-Fi / cell agony
).

The iPaq h6315 was developed with T-Mobile USA and allows users to make phone calls over its GSM/GPRS network. It can switch between them and LAN connections provided by Wi-Fi chips, as well as use Bluettoth peripherals, said John Dayan, senior director of HP's handheld and wireless business.

Most analysts feel that the growth opportunities for PDA vendors lie in converged devices that allow users to run applications and communicate with the outside world on a single device, instead of having to carry a PDA in addition to a mobile phone. PalmOne's Treo 600 (reviewed here) was one of the first of these converged devices to catch on with a mass market, as was the XDA II, but so far these devices have lacked integrated Wi-Fi. The lack of Wi-Fi / cell devices has held up the development of merged cell/Wi-Fi packages, and the h6315 could break that logjam, as T-Mobile has announced it will be offering the device to its US mobile customers, for use on both cellphone and Wi-Fi networks.

The h6315 is designed for business customers who constantly on the move, Dayan said. Its suggested retail price of $599 is competitive with the Treo 600. News of the h6315, and another Wi-Fi/cell device from Motorola had leaked on the FCC's website.

The h6315 comes with Texas' OMAP1510 applications processor. It features 64MB of SDRAM, 64MB of flash memory, a 3.5-inch transflective TFT display and an SDIO (Secure Digital I/O) expansion slot.

HP is expected to announce four other iPaqs later today. The hx4700 will be one of HP's more powerful PDAs, with a 624MHz XScale applications processor from Intel and a four-inch VGA (640 pixels by 480 pixels) display, said Eric Kilponen, director of product marketing for HP's handheld product business. The company sees the $649 hx4700 as a mobile application development platform.

The h6315 and hx4700 are two of HP's most impressive devices to date, said Todd Kort, principal analyst with Gartner. "I expect they'll both do very well, given their price points," he said.

But HP missed a beat with its other three new PDAs, according to Kort. The new rz1700 and rx3000 series PDAs are a step backwards for HP in terms of industrial design, an extremely important factor among PDA consumers, he said. "The coolness factor is important. If they're going to spend $200 to $300 on a PDA, they want something they can impress their friends with," Kort said.

The rz1700 is designed to replace the h1900 series of iPaqs, which is HP's current low-end PDA series, Kilponen said. HP was unable to provide specifications at the moment, but it will cost $279, Kilponen said.

The rx3700 is designed as a multimedia handheld that downplays the information management capabilities that PDAs are generally known for, Kilponen said. It comes with built-in Wi-Fi technology, Bluetooth and a 1.2-megapixel camera for $499, he said. HP will also release the rx3115 later this year, but pricing and specifications were not available for that unit.

The h6315 will be available exclusively through T-Mobile in late August. The other three new models will become available during the third quarter, HP said.