High Tech Computer (HTC), the world's largest maker of Microsoft-based mobile phones, and best known for the MDA/XDA series, has taken the risky step of launching two handsets under its own brand.

Although HTC handsets such as the XDA (read review), the MDA (read review) and the MDA Vario (read review) are sold under other brands, HTC - and the devices' code names such as Wizard and Universal - has become well known. HP also manufactures many of HP's iPaqs under contract.

The HTC TyTN is aimed at business users on the go because it provides for roaming across Europe, the US and Asia via a variety of connections, including tri-band UMTS, 3G, GSM, GPRS, EDGE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The handset runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 and offers Direct Push e-mail for easy messaging, in addition to synching with Microsoft Outlook for contacts and e-mail. It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard along with a 2.8-inch color display and touch screen functioning. The handset carries a 2 Mpixel camera, plus a second camera for video telephony.

It comes in black and silver, and will be available across Europe from late July.

The second handset, the HTC MTeoR is a smart phone that also runs on Windows Mobile 5.0. It includes Direct Push technology for e-mail, and synching for email, calendar and notes, plus document viewers for Microsoft Office as well as PDF files. The handset comes with a 2.2-inch screen and a built-in 1.3 megapixel camera.

The MTeoR will also be available throughout Europe from late July.

The two handsets are HTC's first attempts to market products under its own brand name. As well as supplying operators and vendors such as HP, the company has also sold its products using the Qtek brand name. It said it would continue to support those products, but would migrate Qtek customers over to the new HTC brand.

Building a brand around the HTC name is a risky strategy for a company known for designing and building handsets for customers. BenQ, another Taiwanese handset maker, went the same way a few years ago and immediately lost most of its contract manufacturing customers, leaving a hole in its balance sheet.

HTC said it will continue to supply products to existing customers and global brands. The Taiwanese handset developer boasts a long list of operators who sell HTC phones under their own brand names, including NTT DoCoMo, BT, and T-Mobile. HTC will only offer its own-name brand products to areas and distributors that don't carry operator-branded HTC handsets.