By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Siemens launched its first PDA-phone, a PocketPC-based model that AT&T Wireless will offer at $549 through carrier stores and indirect retailers.
The color touch-screen phone is based on Microsoft's PocketPC Phone Edition, which more tightly integrates phone and PDA functions than other PocketPC phones do. The GPRS-equipped 900/1900MHz GSM world phone is also supplied with software that enables it to share the email address of a user's office desktop PC.
An enterprise version is sold direct by AT&T to businesses.
Both versions wirelessly access information at data rates up to 40kbps, and both enable users to access their office-desktop's Microsoft Outlook. The server-based enterprise version redirects the email of any employee to the employees' handheld, and it delivers calendar and contact updates to the handheld.
The enterprise version also lets users access other enterprise applications, including vertical apps, behind the corporate firewalls of companies that have a virtual private network (VPN).
The consumer version, preloaded with Office Online software, comes with a redirector program that users install on their networked PC's hard drive. Like the Blackberry redirector program, the PC must remain on for the redirection program to work, but unlike Blackberry, the user can also install the program on designated office PCs that can be left on while the user is out. The Siemens/AT&T solution redirects calendar and contact list updates, as do newer Blackberries.
Both versions also allow for over-the-air synchronization of the desktop and handheld versions of Microsoft Office.
Because of these features, the device will let users initiate, accept or decline meeting requests using the Siemens device, and their desktop calendar will be updated for the benefit of colleagues and assistants trying to schedule new appointments.
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