Excalibur launched to rival BlackBerry

High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC), the largest maker of handsets that use Microsoft Corp. software, has launched four new smart phones including one that’s designed to rival the BlackBerry.

The HTC S620, formerly code-named Excalibur, is a slender 12.8 millimeters (mm) thick and weighs 130g. It’s designed to promote the push e-mail function of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 software and to compete with Research In Motion Ltd.’s popular BlackBerry device.

The phone has a navigation bar below the screen which provides easy access to Outlook Mobile, Word Mobile, Powerpoint Mobile and a PDF viewer. It has a 2.4-inch color screen, a full QWERTY keypad and a host of wireless functions, including quad-band GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment), WLAN (wireless-LAN) and Bluetooth.

The S620 is due to be offered by phone operators throughout Europe in October, when prices will be announced. Some models will be customized for certain network operators.

The other phones also run Windows Mobile 5.0, and all four of them come with a mobile version of Microsoft Office, which includes most of the Office applications except for Excel. All of the phones are being offered initially in Europe, with the U.S. and possibly Asia to follow.

The HTC P3300 is a smart phone that combines the functions of a PDA (personal digital assistant) with a GPS (global positioning system) device. It marks the start of a new partnership for HTC, which teamed up with TomTom International BV, an Amsterdam-based maker of personal navigation products.

The P3300 comes with TomTom’s Navigator 6 software and a 2.8-inch color screen to view a set of preinstalled maps for Western Europe. The handset runs Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and other Microsoft applications.

HTC and TomTom will probably work together on other devices in the future, they said.

For users who want a 3G smart phone with high-speed Internet connectivity, HTC developed the P3600. The handset, which also uses Windows Mobile 5.0, features e-mail, calendar and word processing software. It also has a 2.0 megapixel camera and comes ready to run on HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) networks. It’s due to be available in Europe from September.

The last of the new handsets, the HTC S310, is a small, candy-bar style quad band mobile phone designed primarily for messaging. It also runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 and will be available throughout Europe in September.

HTC has already lined up some major European mobile phone operators to sell the devices. For example, T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG plans to launch a customized version of the HTC P3300 in several European markets, HTC said.

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