Toshiba updates Pocket PCs with Wi-Fi, VoIP software

Toshiba has launched a version of its e800/805 Pocket PC personal digital assistant (PDA) that incorporates integrated wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software along with several different speech recognition applications and an enhanced display.

The three main PDA vendors that use Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 operating system, formerly known as Pocket PC, have now all upgraded their offerings in recent weeks with Wi-Fi chips and system processors made by Intel Corp.

Toshiba's commitment to the PDA market has appeared to waver over the past few quarters, an analyst with Gartner, Todd Kort, said.

The company released an upgrade to Windows Mobile 2003 for only one of its Pocket PC 2002 PDAs, the e750, a Toshiba spokesperson said.

This angered Toshiba's corporate and consumer users who were unable to upgrade their older devices, Kort said.

HP's iPaqs are the market share leader among Pocket PC PDAs, but Dell has now assumed the role as the counterpart to HP in the Pocket PC market, Kort said.

"Toshiba has been more negatively affected by Dell's entry into the market than anybody else," he said.

But the new devices show that Toshiba was still putting effort into developing new designs and incorporating new technologies into its PDAs, Kort said.

Along with the $US599 e800/805, Toshiba released the $US299 e400/405 for users interested in a less-expensive PDA without Wi-Fi or VoIP capability.

The e800/805 device allows users to make phone calls over IP networks with VLI's VoIP software.

VoIP is a technology that is gaining user interest because of its ability to lower phone equipment and networking costs, but complexity and security issues have held back adoption to this point.

Toshiba increased the RAM in the e800/805 to 128MB, one of the largest amounts of memory yet included on a PDA, Kort said.

Many PC vendors ship their low-end desktops and notebooks with 128MB of RAM.

The company also included on the e800/805 a larger display than what is found on competitors' PDAs. The PDA's 4-inch screen can support resolutions of 480 pixels by 640 pixels (VGA).

However, only one application on the e800/805 currently supports that resolution.

The ClearVue software allows users to view enhanced PowerPoint presentations at the higher resolution. The display is also compatible with the more widely used 240-pixels-by-320 pixel resolution, but Toshiba expects more applications to be developed for the higher resolution in the future.

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Tom Krazit

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