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HP adds GPS to BlackBerry killer

Everybody wants GPS, firm claims

HP has launched a new version of its PDA phone, the Ipaq hv6500 Mobile Messenger, which includes GPS and is intended to compete with the RIM BlackBerry and PalmOne Treo.

"Everybody wants GPS," said a HP spokesperson. "The fact that the hv6500 is a Windows device is also exciting." These two factors will make existing BlackBerry, MDA and Treo customers consider replacing their current devices, he claimed.

The hv6500 Mobile Messenger will soon be available with Vodafone SIMs, and can be ordered from online retailers in two versions: the hv6510 without a camera, at £366, and the hv6515 with a camera at £389.

Despite being a newcomer to telecoms handsets and having had some teething trouble with the 6315 model, HP is adapting well to the demands of operators, said another spokesperson. "We already have 15 operator contracts in Europe for converged devices," he said.

The camera-free version has been made at the request of corporations, but their stance - that cameras are frippery - has softened. "Some business users don't want cameras, but we've been asked for some applications that use cameras," said the spokesperson, listing insurance assessors and car-hire companies. "It's not just consumers that want cameras."

As befits its ambition to make pie of the BlackBerry, the 6500 has push email as well as "pull" or timed synching. The push email will be provided by Visto on Vodafone and other networks, but Good Technology is also supported. Microsoft's own push email addition to Exchange will work with this when it arrives late this year.

The Messenger runs Windows Mobile 2003 Special Edition, and will have Microsoft's recently launched Windows Mobile 5.0 in the new year.

The device will run for 200 hours in standby mode, during which it can take voice calls and receive emails over GPRS, and has five hours of continuous talk time, said Smith. It also has a warm-swappable battery-pack, so it can be used for longer.

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