Hewlett-Packard has launched a new version of its PDA-phone, the iPaq hv6500 Mobile Messenger that includes GPS and is aimed to compete with the RIM Blackberry and PalmOne Treo.
The big HP mobility launch also included a tablet PC, an AMD laptop, a sat-nav system and a lightweight projector.
"Everybody wants GPS," said David Smith, HP's communications director for UK and Ireland. "The fact that the hv6500 is a Windows device is also exciting." These two factors will make existing Blackberry, MDA and Treo customers consider replacing their current devices, he claimed.
The hv6500 Mobile Messenger will be available with Vodafone SIMs shortly, and can be ordered from online retailers in two versions, the hv6510 without a camera, at £366, and the hv6515 with a camera at £389. Despite being a newcomer to telecoms handsets, and some teething trouble with the 6315 model, HP is adapting well to the demands of operators, said Regine Hohnsbein, HP's European director of handhelds and mobility. "We already have 15 operator contracts in Europe for converged devices," he said.
The camera-free version has been made at the request of corporations, but their stance that cameras are frippery has softened, said Smith. "Some corporates don't want cameras, but we've been asked for some applications that use cameras," he said, listing insurance assessors and car -ire companies. "It's not just consumers that want cameras."
As befits its ambition to make pie of the Blackberry, the 6500 has push email as well as "pull" or timed synching. The push email will be provided by Visto on Vodafone and other networks, but Good Technology is also supported. Microsoft's own push email addition to Exchange will work with this when it arrives late this year.
The Messenger runs Windows Mobile 2003 Special Edition, and will have Microsoft's recently launched Windows Mobile 5 in the new year.
The device will run for 200 hours in standby mode, during which it can take voice calls and receive emails over GPRS, and has five hours of continuous talk time, said Smith. It also has a warm-swappable battery-pack, so it can be used for longer.
The tc4200, HP's new Tablet PC is hoping to take tablet computing to general users. It can work for up to 11 hours, using an optional extra battery. Starting at £999, it only costs around £50 more than a comparable laptop, said Smith.
The company also delivered an AMD-based laptop, the nx6125. This has an impressive range of features - including biometrics and 64-bit processing - for its £549 price. It's a desktop replacement machine, with dual-head graphics and a built in optical drive. "This will be a really hot seller," said Smith. "You would expect an entry level device to be de-featured, but this is a good mainstream piece of kit."