ViewSonic enters the Pocket PC arena

Try to imagine a handheld computer with Microsoft Corp. Pocket PC software for under US$300. Next imagine the same device with a powerful Intel X-scale processor. Finally, imagine buying your next handheld from Viewsonic, which Monday outlined its plans to create just such a product.

The ViewSonic Corp. V35 Pocket PC, for release on November 1, will use the Pocket PC 2002 operating system and runs a 300-MHz X-Scale chip with enough power for handling big files and even viewing video. The list price will be $299, an unusually low price for a PocketPC-based handheld.

At that price range, most handhelds today are based on the PalmOS, built by Palm, or its licensees such as Sony and Handspring. A Web search runs up Pocket PC list prices ranging from $399 to $750 for top of the line models from makers such as Hewlett-Packard, which now includes Compaq iPaq line and Casio. Street prices can be in the mid-$200 range but many of these Pocket PC devices are heavier, less powerful, and often support fewer colors than the ViewSonic V35.

Besides the familiar Windows GUI, V35 users will have secure access to corporate applications and the Web. It will include a reader for digital books, e-mail, the power to watch video, a specially built Microsoft PowerPoint file viewer, and a digital image viewer.

Weighing just 4.2 ounces, the ViewSonic V35 will be crammed with 32 Mbytes of flash memory, and 64 Mbytes of random access memory. The LCD display is 3.5 inches, with 240 x 320 pixels. It's fitted with a Lithium-ion batter.

Four buttons are programmed to launch users into contacts, tasks, notes, and calendar. The handheld incorporates a jog dial to let users move quickly through applications or files. A Secure Digital slot can be used for additional memory, or as in input-output interface or for other plug-in connectivity options.

The V35, with a one-year warranty, will ship starting November 1, initially priced at $299. ViewSonic will offer the device through various retail chains, authorized resellers, distributors and mail-order firms.

Viewsonic is in Walnut, Calif., and manufacturers tablet PCs using Microsoft Windows, screen displays and other peripherals.

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