I hope you won't think I'm cluttering an already high-volume list, but I saw
this wire story and thought in light of the Internet PC discussion a few weeks
back, some of you might find this of interest. Here's hoping the infrared
port described in the story will help make this one accessible someday to us.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 06:21:27 -0500
Hand-held PC that runs Windows CE to be unveiled
By Jodi Mardesich
Mercury News Staff Writer
It's ba-a-ack. The pen-based computer, now renamed and repackaged as the
hand-held personal computer, will be unveiled today at the Comdex trade show by
Microsoft Corp. and several partners.
Similar to a pocket-sized electronic organizer, these "HPCs" run a
slimmed-down, low-memory version of Windows called Windows CE, "pocket"
versions of the popular Microsoft word processing, spreadsheet, calendar and
contact management applications and an e-mail application called Inbox. The
devices start at about $500. HPCs include a small keyboard for entering data,
and a stylus pen used against a touch-screen. They typically have 2 megabytes of
RAM, four megabytes of ROM, infrared connectivity and ports to plug in
Most HPCs also come with a cradle, or docking station, where the devices rest
while they're not being used. The cradle connects to a desktop PC and
synchronizes applications on the HPC with applications on the desktop PC.
HPCs use RISC processors from MIPS and Hitachi because of their low power
consumption. They can run for weeks on two AA-sized batteries, said Jon Magill,
director of product marketing for Microsoft's consumer applications group.
"There's no boot time. It's instant on, instant off."
Seven stores in the Las Vegas area will be selling HPCs at Comdex, Magill said.
Microsoft kept the development of Windows CE uncharacteristically quiet. Two
prior attempts to create an industry around hand-held devices failed miserably,
"Neither was the right product at the right time," Magill said. "We merged
the two teams and erased the white board."
This time, "They just did it right," said Diana Hwang, senior industry
at International Data Corp., a market research firm in Framingham, Mass.
Hwang's only concern for the devices is that the price, when add-ons are
factored in, may be too high.
"In our research, people want a lot of functionality at the $350 to $500
point." If the price approaches $1,000, people may decide to buy a notebook
HPCs are the first of several types of devices that will use Windows CE.
"This is Bill Gates' attempt to take his franchise, Windows, and extend it
beyond the desktop," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc.
Seven manufacturers will announce their new devices: Casio, Compaq Computer
Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Packard Bell NEC Inc.'s NEC Computer Systems Division,
Hewlett-Packard Co., LG Electronics and Philips Electronics. More than 50
additional vendors are developing software and add-ons. For instance, Motorola
is introducing a wireless modem so the devices can be used to send e-mail and
access the Internet.
Creative Strategies expects 350,000 HPCs to ship in the first year, more than
doubling to 750,000 in their second year. But those figures could go higher if
the devices catch on as an alternative to a notebook PC.
Devices from Casio, Compaq and NEC will begin shipping today. NEC's MobilePro
200 HPC starts at $499 with two megabytes of RAM, eight megabytes of ROM, two AA
batteries and a cable for connecting to a desktop PC. The MobilePro 400 has two
megabytes of extra memory, a cradle and an adapter, and costs $649.
Philips, of Sunnyvale, is announcing the Velo 1, a $599 device with two
megabytes of memory, an internal "softmodem" that relies on software and the
devices' main processor, rather than separate modem hardware, to transmits data.
It also includes a voice recorder and a docking station. A $699 version of Velo
1 comes with 4 megabytes of memory. A $739 version includes a rechargeable
battery. The Velo 1 is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 1997.
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