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Vodafone preps 3G, Wi-Fi palmtop smart phone

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Vodafone is to offer Taiwanese smart phone maker HTC's Universal palmtop 3G/Wi-Fi smart phone, along with the manufacturer's compact PDA-phone, Magician.

The mobile phone network's German wing last week said it would show the devices at next week's CeBIT show. It did not say when the handsets will ship. However, Universal isn't expected to arrive until the summer, when it will certainly appear as the T-Mobile MDA IV, and as a member of Orange's SPV smart phone line-up.

The Universal is the first Windows Mobile device said to provide 3G compatibility. It's a PDA-sized product with a 640 x 480 display that can be swivelled and rotated round to allow the unit to be operated either as a tablet or as a clamshell. The unit sports a QWERTY keyboard, stereo speakers and twin digital cameras for still photography and video-calls. In addition to 3G and regular 800, 1800 and 1900MHz GSM/GPRS operation, Universal can connect to Wi-Fi networks and incorporates Bluetooth. The device is powered by a 520MHz Intel XScale processor.

Vodafone Germany will brand the Universal the VPA IV. It's version of the Magician handset will be called the VPA Compact. The Magician is already available as the i-Mate Jam and the O2 XDA Mini. It's a 10.8 x 5.8 x 1.8cm PDA form-factor device with a 2.8in, 65,000-colour 240 x 320 display. There's a 1.3 megapixel digicam on board, along with 64MB of RAM and an SD IO card slot. In addition to a tri-band 900/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS radio, the handset offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity. It runs Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition.

Vodafone did not provide pricing details for either the VPA IV or the VPA Compact. ®

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