Today’s road warriors look for Wi-Fi hotspots to insure their notebooks and other mobile devices can gain Internet access, but Nokia and others are starting to place bets on the emerging WiMAX connectivity standard with new devices.
At this week’s CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) previewed the latest version of its Nseries, the N810 Internet Tablet WiMAX Edition. Nokia said the first N810s would be available in the U.S. this summer, with initial distribution focused on regions where WiMAX
WiMAX has a much broader range than the more established and widely-used Wi-Fi, which is generally limited to a few hundred feet. WiMAX networks have a number of interconnected base stations, each with a radius of up to two to three miles, that allow for hand-offs from one base station to another. These virtual handoffs are designed to keep users connected as they move from one area to another in, for example, a cab or bus.
The N810 WiMAX Edition is the latest in Nokia’s line of Internet Tablets. The portable device has a 4.13 inch touch screen, slide-out, standard layout keyboard, Webcam for video calls, and GPS that can provide real-time on-screen maps and directions.
The unit also includes 2GB of memory expandable to 10GB. When not in range of WiMAX, the N810 also connects to Wi-Fi networks.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has touted its iPhone as the first mobile device to offer a Web surfing experience comparable to the desktop or notebook.
In a similar vein, Nokia sees the portability of its N800 series and WiMAX accessibility as a major advance toward a more widely available mobile Internet.
Ari Virtanen, vice president of convergence products for Nokia, said “the 810 WiMAX Edition is a compelling example of how next generation broadband wireless technology will not only change the way people think about the Internet, it will change the very nature of the Internet itself.”
He predicted the transition to a broadband Internet experience “free from the constraints of a fixed network will spark the next wave of new mobile Internet services, and will forever change the perception of what the Internet can be.”
The Nokia N810
Though not on most user’s radar, WiMAX service is expected to explode over the next several years. The industry-led, not-for-profit WiMAX Forum released preliminary results at CTIA this week of a study that predicts there will be more than 133 million WiMAX users globally by 2012.
The study estimates that approximately 70 percent of the forecast WiMAX users by 2012 will utilize mobile and portable WiMAX devices to access broadband Internet services.
A key milestone is expected this spring, when the first Mobile WiMAX Certified products are expected to achieve certification which will help standardize product offerings.
Everex Readies WiMax ultra-mobile Cloudbook
Also at CTIA, Everex announced that its ultra-mobile Cloudbook Max will include an integrated Mobile WiMAX solution from GCT Semiconductor for use with Sprint’s high-speed VIA Technologies are displaying a prototype of the device, which includes an 8.9-inch WVGA display at resolutions of up to 1024 x 600. The Cloudbook is powered by VIA’s 1.6GHz VIA C7-M ULV processor coupled with the VIA VX800 digital media IGP chipset and supports Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. Not due out for about a year, the Cloudbook weighs a bit more than half a pound.