HP's H6315 Phone on Hold at T-Mobile

T-Mobile USA has suspended sales of Hewlett-Packard's IPaq H6315 device after users reported numerous software glitches with the device, spokespeople from both companies confirmed Thursday.

The wireless carrier is waiting for the release of a ROM update on HP's Web site that is expected to fix many of the problems experienced by early adopters of the H6315, says Mike Hockey, an HP spokesperson. HP will offer the software update as a free download from its Web site during the first week of April, he says.

The H6315 was released last July as HP's answer to the popularity of PalmOne's Treo smart phone. HP added phone capabilities to one of its IPaq PDAs (personal digital assistants) with a GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) modem, and also installed an 802.11b wireless chip and Bluetooth connectivity. Early reviews were kind, in part because of the device's ability to shift seamlessly between GPRS and 802.11b networks.

However, since its release users have been underwhelmed by the device's phone capabilities, according to numerous posts on handheld-enthusiast Web sites and user-review sites. The device does not appear to work consistently as a phone, as many users reported having to frequently reset their units after software lockups.

Software Correction

The ROM update will correct many of those problems with new code for the software that controls the GPRS and Bluetooth chips, HP's Hockey says. T-Mobile is working with HP on the problem and will alert customers when the update is available, a T-Mobile spokesperson says.

However, T-Mobile H6315 customers currently can exchange HP's device for one of several other phone/PDA devices available through T-Mobile, according to sources familiar with the problem. Those other devices include PalmOne's Treo 600 and several BlackBerry devices from Research in Motion.

For several years, PDA users and analysts have been calling on companies such as PalmOne and HP to add communications technology to their PDAs. Shipments of unconnected PDAs have been in steady decline for some time, while shipments of mobile phones have skyrocketed. Many companies are starting to integrate the two devices, with varying degrees of success.

HP plans to introduce its second phone/PDA device in the second quarter, it said earlier this year. The HP IPaq Mobile Messenger is designed to work with EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) networks, which are slightly faster than GPRS data networks. It will also feature built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.

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