HP Confirms the End of Sleeves and the iPAQ h5500

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Several weeks ago, a source leaked to Brighthand that HP had decided to stop releasing devices that can use the expansion packs that were a hallmark of the iPAQ line since its inception. HP has now confirmed this.

HP regularly sends its developers an email newsletter to keep them informed of what’s going on with the iPAQ line. The most recent one contains the following information:

    A cornerstone of the original iPAQ was the iPAQ expansion pack, enabled by the 100-pin connector. This technology positioned the iPAQ as a technology leader, providing access to a vast array of PC Card (PCMCIA) technologies developed for laptop PCs, as well as countless other expansion options. The h5500 is the last classic 100-pin connector model from HP.

The information leaked to Brighthand made HP’s reasons for this clear. The company believes these peripherals are no longer necessary. Many of the functions they offered are now built into the handhelds, or are available as CompactFlash or SDIO cards. Also, sleeves were created at a time when the iPAQs were much larger than they are today. Relatively few customers want a handheld as large as the h5500 series when they can get almost the same functionality in a handheld as small and light as the h4150.

HP’s Dev News also explicitly states that the h5500 series will be discontinued this year.

Out with the Old, In with the New

According to rumor, HP is planning to release seven new iPAQs before the end of this year. As they don’t have to fit in the expansion sleeves, all of these will be smaller than the h5500 series.

Included in this group will supposedly be the iPAQ hx4700, HP’s first model with a VGA screen. This will be a very high-end model loaded with features.

Another high-end model will be the iPAQ hx2700, which will have dual slots, multiple forms of wireless networking, and a biometric fingerprint scanner.

More in the mid-range will be the iPAQ rz1700, which will have dual memory card slots.

Expected this summer are a trio of iPAQs targeted at consumers. One of these will be a “bare-bones” model, but the other two will offer wireless networking, a built-in camera, and possibly the ability to record and playback MPEG video.

Several wireless carriers are also expected to begin offering later this year an iPAQ focused on communication. The h6300 series will include GSM/GPRS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

More about all of these upcoming iPAQ handhelds can be found in this article.

Thanks to Larry for the tip.

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