Toshiba dives into Canadian handheld market

After nearly two decades without a new mobile computing release, Toshiba of Canada Information Group altered that trend Monday with its launch of its e310 Pocket PC.

It features Intel’s 206MHz StrongARM processor, SD Media Technology, audio and video capability with speaker and voice recorder and runs on Microsoft’s Pocket PC 2002 software that includes Pocket Outlook, Pocket Internet Explorer, Pocket Word, Excel and Windows Media Player 8. The device weighs 140 grams, measuring 12mm thick and 125mm in length.

A spokesperson for Toshiba said Microsoft’s operating system was chosen mainly because it would offer existing notebook users greater compatibility between the two devices.

“We’re looking at a product that makes the most sense with our notebook systems to make a complete mobile solution for the end user,” said Chris Matto, product manager Toshiba of Canada in Markham, Ont.

On the wireless side, he added that the device includes an infrared port and single slot architecture that is SD-based.

Matto however, was uncertain if the device could be Java-enabled or was limited to only the Microsoft operating system.

With many established vendors in the Pocket PC’s space, including Hewlett-Packard/Compaq, Fujitsu and Casio, one industry analyst said that while growth is expected, the company will need to be aggressive to capture its slice of the pie.

“They might have to do some catch up and heavy promotion in the corporate market place. But if you look at the industry overall, its still pretty nascent. They still have a pretty good chance of getting (market) share,” said Warren Chaisatien, analyst at IDC in Toronto.

IDC numbers suggest that the corporate handheld computing market will grow by 31 per cent for 2002.

He maintained that since Toshiba is already a recognized vendor in the mobile space, the company should have little trouble making the transition into the Pocket PC environment.

“Toshiba is trying to leverage their existing brand name in mobile computing into the corporate market and to get (in) on the handheld bandwagon market,” he said.

And despite the fact that Toshiba opted for Microsoft’s OS, he said that the decision wouldn’t pose any major problem for Sun Microsystems, saying that much like the Palm and Compaq devices, he expects this Pocket PC to include the Java option.

The e310 has a starting price of $649 and is now available. The company is expected to launch a second Pocket PC with additional wireless capabilities by early summer of this year.

Toshiba Canada can be reached at

IDC can be reached at

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