StrongARM muscles into low-end HP handhelds

Hewlett-Packard's Jornada is due for an Intel overhaul and may even get wireless features, but it still has to survive the Compaq merger

Hewlett-Packard on Thursday announced a new range of handheld computers, the 560 series, based on Microsoft's newly announced Pocket PC 2002 operating system and Intel StrongARM processors. HP and Intel also announced their intent to work together on wireless devices.

HP previously used Intel's StrongARM processor in its 700 and 800 range of Jornada keyboard-based handhelds, but the smaller 540 range used the Hitachi SH3 processor.

The 560 series, which follows on from the 540 series, will officially launch on 4 October in the US and will be available in the UK the same month. The lower-end Jornada 565 with 32MB of RAM is expected to cost £469 inc. VAT while the higher-end 568 with 64MB of RAM is likely to cost £549 inc. VAT.

Both new Jornadas will use a StrongARM 206MHz processor, 16-bit front-lit TFT reflective colour screen, a removable 14-hour lithium-polymer battery and a CompactFlash Type 1 extended slot for hardware expansion.

The new Microsoft operating system is focused on the enterprise, and the Intel processor is optimised for high-powered applications like image viewing, video and audio record and playback, speech and handwriting recognition, as well as office applications like personal information management and word processing.

In the past Pocket PC devices have been criticised for offering whiz-bang multimedia applications but being less practical and easy to use than the more popular, less expensive competition from Palm Computing.

The wireless collaboration will centre on Intel's Personal Client Architecture, which uses the next-generation XScale embedded processor combined with Intel's Micro Signal Architecture (MSA) digital signal processor as a basis for wireless handhelds.

"We see significant value in Intel's architectural approach with Intel PCA for delivering next-generation wireless voice and data devices," said Kok-Khoon Lim, general manager of HP's Jornada organisation, in a statement.

HP has previously said that it will launch a combination mobile phone-PDA in the second half of this year.

However, with the company's planned takeover of Compaq, observers speculate that the Jornada line could be axed in favour of Compaq's far better-selling iPaq.

See the Mobile Technology News Section for full coverage.

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