Fujitsu Siemens to launch XScale-based PDA

Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV is expected to be the first vendor to launch a personal digital assistant (PDA) based on Intel Corp.'s next-generation XScale processor, an industry source said Tuesday.

The device, dubbed Pocket LOOX, will carry an Intel XScale processor running at 300MHz, according to a person familiar with the product. PDAs available today, equipped with Intel's fastest StrongARM processor, run at a maximum of 206MHz.

The product will be launched at the CeBIT tradeshow in Germany next month. Fujitsu Siemens is keeping mum on the processor details, stating only that the Pocket LOOX will ship with a "super fast processor." The company is candid about other features. The PDA will, for example, come with native support for Bluetooth and feature an expansion slot for a separately sold GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) card.

Bluetooth support allows the user to wirelessly connect the PDA with other Bluetooth devices, such as mobile phones, as well as with access points that provide Internet access, Fujitsu Siemens said. The GPRS card not only offers data connections when away from a Bluetooth access point, but also converts the PDA into a mobile phone, according to the vendor.

The Pocket LOOX will be "the most advanced PDA available" if it comes with the speedy XScale processor, said Chris Jones, senior analyst at research firm Canalys Ltd. in Reading, England.

"It is a bit of a coup for Fujitsu Siemens to be able to show this. Obviously this is a big increase in speed on what is available today and a lot of people will be after the added speed," he said. "This will be one of the more exciting new product announcements at CeBIT this year."

Built-in Bluetooth support is welcome and relatively new, with Compaq Computer Corp.'s top iPaq being one of the few devices that has it today, according to Jones.

"I have a Bluetooth phone now, but need an expansion card for my PDA to talk to it. Especially in Europe, integrated Bluetooth is important as there are integrated Bluetooth devices now to talk to," he said.

Fujitsu Siemens and its parent Fujitsu Ltd. developed the Pocket LOOX, a Fujitsu Siemens spokesman said. The device, expected to be priced similarly to PDAs based on Microsoft Corp.'s PocketPC 2002, will initially be available in Europe only, the spokesman said.

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