It was a summer we won’t soon forget. Typically the slowest time of the year for handheld computers, the summer of 2003 was anything but slow. From the introduction of Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC to the merger of rivals Palm and Handspring, and the release of more than a dozen new devices, we barely found time to slip away to the beach and enjoy the summer sun.
So now that fall’s upon us, let’s look back on all of the exciting happenings from this summer, starting with the announcement of Windows Mobile for Pocket PC.
Pocket PC World. First it was Windows CE. Then Pocket PC. Now Microsoft hopes that the third time is the charm with Windows Mobile. The latest version of its operating system for handheld computers was announced on June 23 with little hoopla and fanfare, and few new features. But Microsoft says that the true beauty of Windows Mobile is under the covers, as it’s faster and more expandable than ever. Unfortunately, as in the past, Pocket PC manufacturers struggled to get OS upgrades out to Pocket PC owners.
HP. Hewlett-Packard celebrated summer by releasing five new iPAQ handheld computers, including its new mid-priced 2200 series. The dual-slotted iPAQ h2210 (pictured at right), with its fetching design and leading edge technology, assures HP’s dominance of the Pocket PC market. And HP added to its best-selling 1900 series with the iPAQ h1940, which addressed some of the shortcomings in the h1910 while retaining its sleek design and low price, and the value-priced h1930. Finally, HP continued to woo the corporate set with its full-featured 5000 series by introducing two new models, the h5150 and the h5550.
Dell. As expected, Dell did not release any new models this summer, although it did update its X5 Pocket PC with Windows Mobile. Instead it prepared its new X3 Pocket PC for fall launch and began hinting that it was working on fully wireless handhelds for release next year.
Unfortunately, Dell had problems with its implementation of Windows Mobile on its X5 handhelds, but eventually admitted the problem and supplied a fix to Axim owners.
Toshiba. Toshiba used the summer months to tweak its line-up of handheld computers by introducing the e355 and updating the e755 to the new Windows Mobile for Pocket PC operating system. You can expect new designs, like the rumored e805, from Toshiba in the coming months.
Other players. The big disappointment of the summer was Gateway, which indefinitely delayed the launch of its first handheld computer. However, other companies, including JVC, Viewsonic, Fujitsu-Siemens, O2 and Hitachi announced or released new Pocket PCs.
Palm World. The big news of the summer in the Palm world was the announcement that Palm was acquiring Handspring, which we’d predicted back in January. This brings Palm founders Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky and Ed Colligan back to the roost, and adds the Treo line of smart phones to Palm’s extensive product family.
Palm. Like Dell, Palm remained relatively quiet this summer, although it did slip in the Tungsten T2. However, its fall lineup is reportedly just around the corner and it looks exciting based on the rumors floating around the Web.
Sony. Sony continued its break-neck pace this summer, releasing several new models.The Clie PEG-NX80V and the Clie PEG-NX73V improved on current Clie models, while the clam-shell shaped UX50 (pictured at right) completely broke the mold.
And there’s new models to come, according to these rumors on the street. What can Sony possibly come up with next?
Other players. Possibly the coolest device of the summer came from Garmin. Its iQue handheld (pictured at left) was the first to have an integrated GPS receiver. Will this spur on a new world of location based services and applications? We hope so.
The big disappointment on the Palm side? Probably Fossil delaying its watch PDA. But we should see this interesting new device on the market before the end of the year, if Fossil can get the final issue related to the Touchscreen resolved.
Yes, it was a crazy and eventful summer. But fall is no slouch when it comes to handhelds, and we can’t wait! So, what do you think was the biggest story of the summer? Windows Mobile? The new iPAQ h2215? The UX50?