Sprint to launch four handhelds by year's end

Sprint will launch four handhelds by the end of the year

Sprint Nextel Corp. will deliver four new wireless handhelds by year's end, including the HTC Touch, already available in the U.K. with touch-screen capabilities similar to Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

Across the variations of the four models, Sprint is offering a range of input methods. The Palm Centro features a full keyboard and touch-screen navigation, while the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 has its SureType keypad of both numeric and alphabetic keys interspersed. The fourth phone is the LG Rumor, featuring a typical phone touch pad and a separate slide QWERTY keyboard.

A Sprint spokeswoman confirmed that the company plans to offer all four models before the end of the year. However, she would not share other details about how Sprint has customized some details of the products, nor would she release photographs of the devices imprinted with Sprint logos, as have appeared on some blogs, including Engadget.

HTC Touch, from High Tech Computer Corp., was launched in London in June with an online series of photos that show the TouchFLO touch-screen technology developed by Taiwan-based HTC. An HTC press release describes the Touch as allowing users to "sweep their finger up the display to launch an animated, three-dimensional interface comprising three screens: Contacts, Media and Applications." It is also intelligent enough to distinguish between finger or stylus input, according to the company.

HTC Touch also relies on Windows Mobile 6 Professional as the operating system and has tri-band wireless connectivity with GSM/GPRS/EDGE, but blogs have reported that Sprint will support it with EVDO-A upgradeable. It also supports wireless for 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0.

As announced by HTC, the Touch has up to five hours of talk time, a 2-megapixel camera and comes in black or green. It weighs nearly 4 ounces and measures 3.9 by 2.3 by 0.5 inches.

The Palm Centro is described in some blogs as the slimmest Palm OS device, although Palm Inc. has not posted any online materials to describe it.

The BlackBerry Pearl 8130 also does not appear on Research In Motion Ltd.'s site, but an apparently similar device, the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 can be found there.

The Rumor from Seoul-based LG Group is described on the Engadget blog as giving "quick and easy access to social networking communities such as Facebook and MySpace." The blog also said it is designed for customers "dependent on their phone to stay connected both personally and professionally, and is highly interested in text messaging and staying connected." LG has not posted any materials on Rumor on its site.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
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