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Toshiba Adds Wi-Fi, VoIP to New PDA

Toshiba is integrating several technologies, which will allow for a number of applications to run on its new line of Personal Digital Assistants.

Toshiba said it is building in Wi-Fi technology, Voice over IP (VoIP) and voice recognition software into its E800/805, with less features on its E400/405 PDA.

Toshiba announced the pricing for the two new PDA models. The company said the E800/805 will cost $599, while the E400/405 will carry a $299 list price and does not contain the Wi-Fi and VoIP features.

Toshiba said in addition to adding new technological features to the new PDAs, they will run Microsoft Corp. Windows Mobile 2003, the mobile operating system for a variety of PDAs and other wireless computing and communications devices.

One feature the new Toshiba PDAs all contain is an ability to enable users to access their calendar and contact information through simple voice commands. The text-to-speech feature also will for users to have e-mail and other documents to be read aloud to them.

On the more sophisticated model, the Toshiba E800/805, the amount of RAM has been increased to 128 MB, which is comparable with many reasonably-priced desktop PC and notebook models currently on the market.

The new Toshiba PDAs also contain larger screens, which support resolutions of 480 by 640 pixels. However, that level of resolution is only supported by ClearVue software, which allows for enhanced viewing of PowerPoint presentations on the device.

The Toshiba E800/805 also contains a 802.11b wireless chip for Internet connections. The unit also has a 400-Mhz PXA263 Intel processor, along with 32MB of ROM 32MB of NAND flash memory, and Secure Digital I/O (SDIO) and CompactFlash expansion slots.

Toshiba's lesser E400/405 series has the Intel 300-Mhz PXA261 processor, with 16MB of ROM, 64MB of RAM, 32MB of NAND flash memory and an SDIO slot.

Toshiba's decision to build its latest PDAs with Microsoft's Windows Mobile 20003 OS and Intel's Wi-Fi chips and systems processors is an important development of WinTel technologies in the evolving PDA and sophisticated mobile device market. Both Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer recently announced their support of the same wireless OS and chipset solution for HP's iPaq H4150 and H4350, and Dell's Wi-Fi Axim PDA.

Analysts expect Dell to present a strong challenge in terms of PDA price and performance against Toshiba, while HP's iPaqs are driving the market for devices based on the Windows Mobile 2003 OS.

Toshiba's VoIP incorporation along with a subscription to a wireless Internet service allows for the device to handle phone calls, in addition to all its computing functions. VLI is the company providing the VoIP software and subscription service to use the telephony feature on the Toshiba E805 PDA.

"With the built-in Toshiba VoIP , phone software (e800/805 Series only), users can place phone calls over a high-speed wireless LAN network worldwide, reducing the cost of making long distance and international calls via traditional phone systems. A subscription to an Internet service provider and VoIP broadband telephony service is needed for users to take advantage of the VoIP functionality," Toshiba said in a statement.

Toshiba is also offering customers an optional Presentation Pack, which turns their PDAs into mobile presentation system. The pack costs $99, and includea an RGB port for connection to a projector or monitor, and a USB port to connect into a keyboard or pointing device.

"The Pocket PC e800/805 Series features a 4.0-inch diagonal transreflective display for greater viewing area and includes VGA support making the device a sound investment for future VGA-enabled applications," Toshiba said.