HP iPaq enables seamless switching

HP iPaq enables seamless switching

In the race to provide an integrated communications device for the enterprise, Hewlett-Packard has pulled out in front with the iPaq h6315.

In the race to provide an integrated communications device for the enterprise, Hewlett-Packard has pulled out in front with the iPaq h6315. Through a partnership with T-Mobile USA Inc., HP has equipped the latest iPaq with GSM/GPRS voice and data, IEEE 802.11b, and Bluetooth.

As the first integrated communications product, iPaq h6315 -- priced at US$499 -- heralds what most handhelds and handsets will include in the future, according to Gerry Purdy, principal at MobileTrax.

"They can't do it with just wireless data. HP realized that they have to lay in the entire integration of communications to meet enterprise requirements," Purdy said.

Incorporating seamless switching between wide-area cellular networks and WLANs required quite a bit of work on the part of HP, Microsoft, and T-Mobile said Scott Ballantyne, vice president of business services at T-Mobile.

"We had to change our network," Ballantyne said.

Until now, the wireless carrier's network and Windows Mobile 2004 OS allowed only one IP connection at a time.

Now, with the changes in place, when the device discovers a Wi-Fi network, it pulls down the IP address of that network and puts it into standby mode. As soon as the session on GPRS finishes -- for instance, when a new Web page is opened or the screen is refreshed -- the system will abandon the GPRS and load the faster Wi-Fi network.

If the user is set up for a campus, home, or hot spot, the switch is made automatically. If a so-called alien network is discovered, it still pulls down the IP address and puts it in standby, and when the user refreshes, it asks whether the user wants to log on to the network.

"If it's not our network, say it's Wayport, you might have to sign on for a day pass, but we work with any Wi-Fi network," Ballantyne explained.

Purdy sees myriad enterprise benefits from the new breed of integrated devices such as the h6315.

"User productivity will increase if they don't spend half their time fiddling with IP addresses and lost connections," Purdy said.

In addition, Purdy believes seamless operation will lower IT support costs and elevate user morale.

"Users will have a more positive emotional feeling about using technology when they don't have to deal with connectivity issues," Purdy said.

The h6315 comes with 64MB of SDRAM, 64MB of flash memory, a 3.5-inch transflective TFT (thin-film transistor) display, and an SDIO (Secure Digital I/O) expansion slot.

The unit will include Exchange-based e-mail solutions for enterprise users from Good Technologies and Visto.

The HP iPaq h6315 will ship by the end of August, according to company executives.

-- InfoWorld (US)

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