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HP Adds iPAQ Smartphone, Joining Brand’s PDA Phones

Barcelona, Spain — Hewlett-Packard is complementing its selection of PDA phones with its first smartphone, introduced here at the 3GSM World Congress.

The iPAQ 500 series Voice Messenger looks more like a cellular phone than HP’s iPAQ PDA phones and is voice-centric, a spokeswoman said. The GSM/EDGE phone is optimized for cellular voice and Wi-Fi-enabled VoIP applications as well as for e-mail, she explained. It lacks a touch screen, whereas HP’s existing iPAQ hw6900 and hw6500 PDA phones come with touch screens and Microsoft’s PocketPC PDA operating system.

The new device is based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6 smartphone platform, which features the Microsoft Office Mobile suite of applications and lets users view e-mails in original HTML format. Built-in Wi-Fi provides business customers a VoIP alternative to traditional office phone setups, HP added. The phone, in fact, can be integrated with office phone systems to eliminate the need for desk phones.

The Voice Messenger is due in the United States in the spring as an unlocked model available direct from HP and from select authorized dealers. Pricing wasn’t announced. HP said the phone would potentially be available through carriers as well.

Unlike HP’s PDA phones, the new device adds voice commands to allow for hands-free operation. A “voice reply” feature lets users reply to e-mail by dictating a message and sending a voice response. Users also can listen to e-mail and text messages.

The Voice Messenger is the first iPAQ to offer the over-the-air device-management capabilities that let businesses remotely manage and support the device’s performance, security and access to applications, data and networks. IT managers, for example, can remotely erase data on lost or misplaced devices, configure and repair units, and provide updates and security applications.

Digital entertainment features include music and video playback, games and a digital camera.

Last year at this time, HP introduced the quadband GSM/EDGEhw6900 PDA phone, then the industry’s first to combine cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS navigation technology in one device, the company said. It was also the company’s first cellphone equipped with Wi-Fi VoIP capability, thanks to included Skype Mobile software.