Handhelds Bite Into Bluetooth At CeBIT

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Palm Computing today demonstrated handheld Palm devices with Bluetooth technology for wirelessly exchanging information with PCs and other handhelds at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany.

Bluetooth is a popular new standard for wireless exchange via radio waves between devices up to 10 meters apart.

Palm said it intends to implement Bluetooth technology into its product line in the second half of this year. The demonstration at CeBIT features Palm units with a Bluetooth snap-on module, eliminating the need for cables or cradles.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft also announced at CeBIT that it would launch its new Pocket PC software (formerly called Palm-size PC) before June 30 and that it is working with suppliers to incorporate Bluetooth. This would allow a Pocket PC user to wirelessly "beam" information from a Pocket PC to a cellphone to access the Internet.

The new Pocket PC software, expected to be available in handhelds from Casio, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, includes an Internet Explorer browser and technology from Audible.com to allow users to listen to audio books downloaded from a website. It also supports MP3 and Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

Also at CeBit, Symbian (the company owned by Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Matsushita and Psion) introduced a new reference design for wireless pen-based devices code-named Quartz. The Quartz platform is for wireless communication-based devices with a quarter VGA portrait screen. It will provide such features as jotter, contacts, PIM and WAP browsing, as well as Bluetooth and Java integration.

Motorola is expected to launch the first Quartz-based device in the second quarter of 2001.

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