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HP Adds Biometric Security, Wireless VoIP To Handheld

Hewlett-Packard at Comdex plans to unveil two new iPaq Pocket PC devices--one at the low end and one bundled with prepackaged solutions for the high end.

HP's high-end model, the iPaq H5400, includes integrated support for 802.11b (Wi-Fi) wireless networking, along with bundled software that solution providers can use to assemble customized solutions for customers.

For example, the device includes IP telephony applications that allow iPaqs to generate and receive voice-over-wireless-IP telephone calls. Bundled software includes an Avaya IP Softphone for Pocket PC and Cisco CallManager/IP blue VTGO.

The device also has built-in biometric capabilities. A lower portion of the iPaq's screen has a spot where users can place a finger for authentication. Solution providers can set the system up to require authentication either at start-up or after the system powers down for a certain period of time, depending on the security requirements of the customer, said Cindy Box, a marketing director at HP.

"With these handheld devices, customers are carrying around sensitive corporate data everywhere, and enterprises want to ensure that information doesn't get into the wrong hands," she said.

HP thinks users will prefer biometric security to traditional security passwords, which can be hard to enter on a handheld, Box said.

"In this device, you would need a long password for it to truly be secure," she said. "With these devices, one of the key features is instant access to information. We wanted to make it quick and easy yet secure."

The H5400 is expected to be priced at $699.

On the low end, HP is going up against a number of vendors offering Pocket PCs at the $299 price point. The company is offering the H1910, which includes a color 3.5-inch display and 64 Mbytes of RAM.

HP will promote the device's design and light form factor, Box said. The handheld weighs 4.2 ounces, she said.

One of the most notable entrants into the Pocket PC space this year, a $299 device from Dell Computer, also expected to be unveiled at Comdex. Dell used to be a distribution channel for iPaq devices, but Box and an HP spokeswoman said they do not know if HP will continue to sell the series through Dell. At press time, there were no iPaq devices available on Dell's Web site.

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