HTC attacks BlackBerry with 'Excalibur'

Excalibur is the latest device inspired by RIM's BlackBerry, with a Qwerty keypad, touch-sensitive navigation bar and Windows Mobile 5.0

HTC has unveiled its autumn range of Windows Mobile-based handsets, including a long-rumoured BlackBerry-like device called the S620 or "Excalibur".

The lineup also includes a dedicated navigation handheld, a 3G/HSDPA handheld and a candybar-style GSM handset. The devices are aimed mainly at the European market, where HTC has a growing presence, and will be available in September or October.

HTC's Excalibur is the latest device inspired, in form at least, by RIM's BlackBerry. It includes a Qwerty keypad and touch-sensitive navigation bar, and is designed for push email with Windows Mobile 5.0, HTC said. It's somewhat smaller than comparable RIM devices at 12.8mm thickness, weighs 130g with battery and includes various Microsoft email and document-handling applications.

Excalibur is equipped with quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and is due in October.

Nokia launched its own "BlackBerry killer", the E61, earlier this year, to generally positive reviews (see ZDNet UK's review here). Samsung's effort, the SGH-i600 Smartphone, is currently making its way onto the market. Both include full Qwerty keyboards.

In the meantime, RIM is staking out the market for candybar-style smartphones with its recently introduced Pearl device. The Pearl is named after the fingertip trackball it uses to replace the BlackBerry's traditional thumbwheel.

The HTC P3300, due in October, is HTC's first dedicated navigation PDA with built-in GPS, and features TomTom's Navigator 6 software.

The HTC P3600 is a PDA-style handheld designed for email, calendar and document handling, and is equipped with 3G and HSDPA. The P3600 is due this month.

The HTC S310 is a more basic mobile phone-style device, with quad-band GSM and multimedia capabilities, and is due this month.

Taiwan-based HTC will sell the devices under its own brand and in operator-branded versions. T-Mobile will be launching the P3300 navigation device as the MDA Compact III in some European markets, and UK distributors Portix and Expansys will sell HTC-branded devices.