Dual-Mode Devices Ready to Roll

Laptops, which are already shipping with embedded Wi-Fi connections, are now gaining integrated mobile WAN connections, too. Lenovo Group Ltd.'s Z-, T- and X-Series ThinkPads, for example, now ship with both embedded Wi-Fi and 400Kbit to 700Kbit/sec. EV-DO connections. Dell Inc. began directly integrating Cingular Wireless HSDPA/UMTS connections into its Latitude line of notebooks in late March; the connections are backward compatible with EDGE and GPRS networks throughout the world. Dell has also said it will integrate Verizon Wireless' EV-DO connectivity into its Inspiron and Latitude lines this year.

Dual-mode wireless handheld devices are also emerging. Users can choose from several dual-mode mobile devices for running data over either a mobile WAN or a Wi-Fi LAN, including units from Hewlett-Packard Co., Intermec Technologies Corp., Motorola and Psion Teklogix. Research In Motion Ltd. offers a BlackBerry that also supports voice/data over cellular or over an 802.11b Wi-Fi network, but not both.

"It's crazy that you can't combine Wi-Fi and GSM in the BlackBerry," says Paul Limon, IT manager for the Americas at JCB. "We're all road warriors, and we all want [these services] on a single device for a single price and consistent and reliable speeds." When it announced its Wi-Fi- capable BlackBerry last year, RIM said that it would eventually support both cellular and Wi-Fi in a single device, but the company hasn't yet announced a delivery date.

Some manufacturers do offer dual-mode options for voice and data. Symbol Technologies Inc. offers a high-end MC70 starting at $2,000. The rugged, multifunction device supports Wi-Fi and cellular data and voice, scanning, push-to-talk and other capabilities.

In Japan, the NEC N900iL dual-mode handset is available for use with NTT DoCoMo Inc 's third-generation service. Other devices enabling voice and data over both Wi-Fi and mobile WAN services are expected from Nokia Corp. and G-Tek Electronics Corp. this year.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z-Series model
Several Lenovo ThinkPad lines, including this Z-Series model, ship with 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Verizon Wireless EV-DO cellular connections.
HP iPaq Pocket PC h6300
HP iPaq Pocket PC h6300devices have internal 802.11b Wi-Fi and GSM/GPRS cellular connections, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. The iPaq h6315 works with the T-Mobile wireless network; the h6325 works with the Cingular Wireless network.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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