Five years ago: UK users will wait on Compaq handheld

UK users anxious to get their hands on Compaq's first handheld product face a wait

While the US parent will show the company's PC Companion at the Las Vegas Comdex trade show next week and ship it within days, it will be well into 1997 before a version hits Europe.

The problem is caused by the operating system the unit debuts - Microsoft's Windows CE. "It's likely to be the first half of next year before we ship," said Liz Harbord, Compaq UK senior product manager for portables. "We try to do worldwide releases but Windows CE is currently only in US English and the European translations have not been done."

"Also, the PC Companion is a new category for Compaq so we have to look at distribution and support. It's a business product but it's likely to be bought by people with their own money. Corporates will be interested in buying it for certain groups within their organisations but a lot of people will buy it in the way they currently but organiser-type products. The mix is likely to be retail and traditional Compaq channels."

Harbord said there was plenty of pent-up demand for the PC Companion. "My phone is just buzzing. Corporates have been saying for a long time: 'When are you going to have it?'"

Despite Compaq's reputation for premium price tags, Harbord said pricing will be competitive. "If you look at Psion and Sharp, they sell in the thousands, so we have to be sharply priced." Pricing in the US is expected to be from $500 (about £340).

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