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HP expands wireless use in portables

Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a new line of iPaq PDAs next week, adding to a cavalcade of new HP mobile computing products, which began to appear this week.

Hewlett-Packard plans to launch a new line of iPaq personal digital assistants next week, adding to a cavalcade of new HP mobile computing products, which began to appear this week.

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The computing giant on Monday is set to launch several new iPaqs, including the model h2210, HP said in a statement. The release is expected to come in step with that of Microsoft's Pocket PC 2003 software, an upgrade of the Pocket PC software.

Although the new iPaq PDA is expected to have many of the same features as current models, including a 400MHz Intel XScale processor and a 3.5-inch color screen, it will also come with Bluetooth technology, allowing it to establish a wireless link with other devices. Using Bluetooth, the handheld can access the Internet via a cellular phone or share contact information with that phone as well as send documents to a printer, HP said in a statement.

To handle wireless networking, the h2210 will rely on dual expansion slots that accept Secure Digital slot and Compact Flash II modules. The Secure Digital slot can accommodate add-ons such as 802.11 wireless modules, replacing the cradlelike snap-on accessories used in previous models.

The h2210 is expected to be smaller, thinner and about an ounce lighter than some existing iPaq models, allowing it to fit more easily into a shirt pocket.

As previously reported, the h2210 will likely be joined by at least four more new Bluetooth-enabled iPaq models, including the low-end h1930 and h1940 and two new high-end h5500 series PDAs.

Notebooks, too HP, as expected, also launched a two new notebook PCs on Wednesday as part of its appearance at the CeBit America trade show, which also kicks off Wednesday.

The HP Compaq Business Notebook nc4000 and HP Compaq Business Notebook nx7000 are based on Intel's Pentium M processor and offer a range of 802.11 wireless networking choices, including 802.11a, 802.11b and Bluetooth.

The new nomenclature reflects a change in branding as well for HP. The company plans to emphasize HP as its overarching product brand and use Compaq as a subbrand for businesses products, as is shown by the new HP Compaq business notebook models. HP's new notebook family names, nc and nx, are designed designate one product designed for large companies--the nc--and another created for smaller businesses, the company said.

The nc4000, which weighs less than 4 pounds, is designed for frequent travelers who require long battery life for lengthy trips and who need a wireless connection to the Internet.

The new machine incorporates a 12-inch screen. A version fitted with a 1.4GHz Pentium M, 256MB of RAM, a 30GB hard drive and 802.11b technology will start at $1,650, HP said in a statement. It also includes a Secure Digital slot and options for Bluetooth, and an 802.11 a/b combination wireless module. HP will later offer a software upgrade that will update modules to the newly approved 802.11g wireless specification.

The nc4000 was the first HP business notebook to be designed from the ground up by HP's new combined product team following the company's May 2002 merger with Compaq Computer. It features a new look that will be adopted in several future models, HP executives said.

"It's the first notebook on the commercial line where we've had a melding of personalities," said Matt Mazzantini, manager of product marketing for business notebooks at HP.

The nx7000, which incorporates a 15.4-inch wide-angle display, offers businesses a 6.5-pound notebook that can serve as a replacement for desktops. A version fitted with a 15.4-inch WXGA screen (resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels), a 1.4GHz Pentium M, 40GB hard drive and DVD-ROM as well as an Intel 802.11b module will start at $1,699.

Notebooks are an important product for HP, which was by unit shipments in the first quarter by IDC. While notebook shipments are still only about a quarter of the worldwide PC shipment total, the percentage of notebooks versus desktops shipped continues to grow as consumers and businesses switch from desktops. Also, notebooks bring in more revenue than desktops.

The new business notebooks mark the beginning of broad model overhaul planned by HP. The company expects to introduce a number of notebooks for business and consumers by the end of the year.

HP plans to add two additional nc family notebooks later in the year, a medium-size machine and a larger system. At the same time, it plans to update its nx 9000 notebook line, Mazzantini said.