HP preparing the next wave of wireless iPaqs

Hewlett-Packard Co. is readying several new versions of its iPaq wireless personal digital assistants that will also feature a new version of Microsoft Corp.’s mobile operating system, according to details of the new products posted on Web sites for HP in both the U.S. and the U.K.

The HP iPaq hw6510 and hw6515 are not yet available in the U.S., but are available in Europe, as pointed out by a presentation on HP’s U.K. Web site promoting the new models. However, a link from that presentation on Wednesday also contained specifications for an unannounced series of products, the hw6700 iPaqs.

The information about the hw6700 iPaqs had been removed from the site by Thursday. Sources familiar with HP’s plans expect the hw6700 devices, with more storage and WiFi capabilities, to launch next January, around the time Microsoft Corp. releases an updated version of its Windows Mobile 2005 operating system.

An HP spokesman declined to comment on the hw6700 iPaqs, but said the hw6500 series iPaqs are currently available in Asia-Pacific and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and will be released “shortly” in the U.S.

The hw6510 and hw6515 are the second-generation of HP’s efforts to turn the iPaq into a PDA/mobile phone hybrid. With newer mobile phones capable of storing contacts and calendar appointments, fewer and fewer handheld users are buying stand-alone PDAs. Instead, shipments of devices like Palm Inc.’s Treo 650, Research in Motion Ltd.’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry 7100, and HP’s h6300 series devices are on the upswing, according to data from Gartner Inc.

The first product released by HP for this market, the h6315, received a number of favorable reviews at launch. However, users complained that while the device made for a powerful PDA, it was underwhelming as a phone. HP released a software fix in April to address some of the phone connectivity problems as well as problems with the device’s Bluetooth short-range networking technology.

HP added a built-in keyboard and an integrated GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation system to the hw6500 series iPaqs, which were launched in Europe last month.

The hw6500 series iPaqs come with Intel Corp.’s PXA270 XScale processor at 312MHz, 64M bytes of ROM and 64M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a SD (Secure Digital) expansion card slot, and a three-inch display. The hw6515 comes with a digital camera, while the hw6510 does not. U.S. pricing information was not immediately available, although the devices cost

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