Atlanta (GA) - Convergence comes in a very small package today, with Cingular’s US release of two Windows Mobile-based handheld PCs. The new 8100 and 8125 models - the latter including a 1.3 Mp digital camera - represent Cingular’s take on two popular UK portable models manufactured by maverick Taiwan-based handheld platform designer HTC.
|Cingular’s new 8100 EDGE phone. (Courtesy HTC)|
HTC began distributing sleek, distinctive, and feature-rich Windows Mobile 5.0 handhelds in the latter half of last year, with Cingular and T-Mobile jumping on board early. At last September’s Windows Developers’ Forum, HTC’s top-of-the-line 3G model - which sells in the US as the Qtek 9000 - was the star of the show, personally demonstrated by Bill Gates himself. Its clamshell screen with full rotation astounded even Chaos Manor’s Jerry Pournelle, who immediately sent one of his assistants out to purchase one - it was his within hours. Last December, Cingular introduced HTC’s smartphones to the US as its model 2125.
In-between the Qtek and the 2125 are today’s Cingular 8100 series, which offer not only quad-band GSM/EDGE connectivity for voice communications, but 802.11b/g for data as well. Its distinctive feature is a QWERTY keyboard that slides out from the left side of the unit, tripping an internal switch that rotates the display contents counter-clockwise 90 degrees, completing its transformation from miniature tablet PC to encapsulated communications console.
Contrary to an earlier Cingular report, the 8100 series actually follows HTC’s specifications to the letter, with 128 Mb of flash ROM on board, and 64 Mb of SDRAM. The 240 x 320 (or 320 x 240, depending on whether your QWERTY is hanging open) display measures 2.8" diagonally, on a unit which, when closed, measures 4 1/3" tall by 2 1/3" wide by less than an inch tall.
|The 8100 series phones, with Cingular’s branding and with the keyboard extended. (Courtesy Cingular)|
Installed on both units is a complete suite of connectivity software, including both Microsoft Office and support for Exchange, plus newly emerging BlackBerry competitor GoodLink from Good Technology (we’re not making up any names), and software for both Cingular’s and Microsoft’s e-mail and instant messaging services. Add to this mix the stereo headphone jack and the latest edition of Windows Media Player, and the 8100 becomes the device for the person who would have invested in an iPod if only it were more connected.
Today, Cingular product manager Michael Woodward promised more to come, stating, "These are just the first two of what will be an array of Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices that will be available from Cingular by the end of this year." If HTC is involved, one wonders whether a Cingular version of the Qtek (HTC’s "3G UMTS PDA phone") is next.
Cingular’s press release today mentioned that both models will be expandable to support Microsoft’s latest version of Messenger, with promises of enhanced security and "direct push" e-mail capability, sometime during the first half of this year. Pricing for the 8100 will start at $299, as the unit becomes available nationwide tomorrow.