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NEWS FROM HP: THE HP 95LX AND THE MOTOROLA NEWSSTREAM RECEIVER

NEWS FROM HP: THE HP 95LX AND THE MOTOROLA NEWSSTREAM RECEIVER

Attach this small wireless receiver to your HP 95LX and have mail, appointments, and Lotus spreadsheet updates sent to you wherever you are.

By Hal Goldstein

Motorola Newsstream in Cradle:  Graphic

 Soon, an HP 95LX Palmtop user -- automatically, instantaneously, and wirelessly -- will be able to receive mail, have appointment and phone books updated, and receive updates to Lotus sales, portfolio or other custom spreadsheets almost anywhere. This miracle of modern technology will be accomplished by use of the wireless Motorola NewsStream Receiver (formally named "DataStream"), the Hewlett Packard Mobile Data Link software and cradle, and a pager service.

The Hardware: The NewsStream Receiver and Cradle

The Motorola NewsStream receiver is a stand-alone unit. When connected to the HP 95LX through an HP custom-designed cradle, the NewsStream offers wireless one-way communications to the HP 95LX Palmtop.

Sketch of Cradle: Graphic

 The NewsStream receiver (a one-way radio frequency modem) connects to a computer via the RS232 serial port. The unit measures 5.1 cubic inches and weighs 3.5 ounces. The integrated HP 95LX palmtop computer and NewsStream package can be carried in a Day-timer-type notebook, a briefcase or purse. The NewsStream receiver can be connected to the computer or detached and carried in the user's pocket for notification of inbound messages.

The NewsStream can inform the user that a message has been received by several means. The NewsStream can announce a receipt of a message through the sense of sight (a flashing green light), or sound (volume controlled beep). If the NewsStream and the HP Palmtop are connected and the Mobile Data Link software is installed and active, messages are transferred to the HP 95LX automatically.

The NewsStream receiver attaches to the right end of the HP 95LX with the HP Mobile Data Link cradle. The cradle has a Ushaped channel, into which the 95LX slides from one end, and the receiver slides into from the other end. Between the 95LX and the receiver is a "bulkhead."

 This bulkhead has a plug on both sides - one plugs into the 95LX serial port, the other plugs into the receiver's serial port, thus connecting the receiver to the serial port of the 95LX. To allow use of the 95LX's serial port when the receiver is connected, there is a serial port connector on the back of the cradle, which electrically disconnects the receiver when you plug anything into it. There is also an AC adapter plug on the back of the cradle, allowing the 95LX to be powered by the AC adapter while in the cradle.

Finally, there is an IR (infrared) transparent deck that fills the cavity under the NewsStream that allows IR communications to still work even in the cradle and even with the NewsStream in place. No functionality is lost when the HP cradle is added to the HP 95LX.

 Connecting the receiver to the HP 95LX in this fashion creates a solid 1-piece unit that is 2.7 inches longer than the basic 95LX. This cradle is general purpose mating hardware which lets you attach other devices to your HP 95LX, in addition to the receiver. It will be interesting to see what third-party products get developed for the cradle. A modem or an additional RAM card drive would seem like excellent candidates.

The Software: Mobile Data Link Software

The software comes on a 128K ROM card. It can also can be run from the built-in RAM disk on the C drive, from a RAM card, or directly from the ROM card. Messages flow from the receiver to the HP 95LX whenever the Mobile Data Link software is active. If the 95LX is off, it automatically turns on to receive the message, then turns off again.

The NewsStream receiver functions independently of the HP 95LX. It holds up to 32K of data and up to 56 messages. A message is a file containing optional initial characters that get decoded by Mobile Data Link Software. When the receiver is connected, these messages flow into the 95LX.

Mobile Data Link software was specifically designed for the HP 95LX. It knows about the 95LX built-in appointment book, phone book, and Lotus 1-2-3. When the message enters the HP 95LX, it is stored as a temporary file. The first few characters of the message are compared against a list of user-specified message tags kept in a configuration file. If there is no match, the message is placed in an incoming message file so that the user can read it and manually handle it (it's treated just like regular E-mail).

On the other hand if there is a matching message tag, the various processing options may treat the message as an appointment or to-do list entry, a phonebook entry, or a spreadsheet update. Other options are available and others may be added in the future. Mobile Data Link software is System-Manager compliant: that is, it runs in conjunction with other built-in software such as MEMO or HP CALC. The main Index screen looks something like the PHONE main screen, with one line given for each received message. The first column contains an asterisk if it has not been read. The next column displays the date and time the message was received. The remainder of the line shows as much of the message as is possible. The highlighted entry may be viewed in its entirety by pressing ENTER.

The software looks much like the other built-in HP 95LX software: function key labels occupy the bottom two lines and pressing MENU brings up menu options across the top of the screen. Function keys let you Delete, Copy, Tag, and Undelete entire messages. The MENU command brings up File, Print, Append, Config, and Quit options that operate similarly to other 95LX software counterparts.

 Without going into much detail, here are three examples of messages you might receive:

PHBK, "Personalized Software" "641-472-1382" "110 North Court St, Fairfield, IA 52556, Fax: 641-472-1879"

APPT 91/12/3 9AM-10AM "Board Meeting" "Note: Don't forget to bring your seminar notes."

 PARTLST, A4..B5 "Blue Widgets" 57.50 " Red Widgets" 39.50

 The "PHBK" in the first message cues the Mobile Data Link software to add an entry to the phone book. This message contains the name, number, and address fields required by the built-in PHONE application.

 The "APPT" message sets up an appointment for you with the first quoted string being the title. The second string is the attached note.

 Finally, in the third message, "PARTLST" is that name of the parts list the 1-2-3 WK1 file set up previously in the configuration file.

 The 1-2-3 data is entered in row order and will be entered as follows:

 A B

 4 Blue Widgets 57.50

 5 Red Widgets 39.50

What Happens

There are a number of ways to download messages into a NewsStream receiver. With a modem and either a PC or 95LX someone can send messages to a paging service phone number. The service sends the message via radio wave to your receiver. Once the receiver is connected to the 95LX and the software installed, the message is processed inside the 95LX.

You may also use a touch tone phone to dial the service and enter additional digits. Those digits get sent to the 95LX and, based on a decode file previously set up in the 95LX, result in a message to you.

 For example, a common approach is to use seven digit phone numbers as the message code. So, for example, 234-5678 might be the code meaning "call the office," as well as the actual office phone number. Similarly, 789-0123, your home phone, would tell you to phone home.

Suppose your secretary and your spouse both dialed the service and then entered the 7 character codes. When you checked your main message file, you would see two new entries:

 *2/14/92 11:42 A 234-5678 OFFICE

 *2/14/92 1:37 P 789-0123 HOME

 Who Will Use It

 The NewsStream Advanced Information Receiver creates the opportunity for a variety of new services. Users could receive important radio mail while away from the office on their HP 95LX and NewsStream receiver. The NewsStream allows for wireless update of electronic spreadsheets or the updating of calendars as late--breaking information is received in the office and transmitted to executives on the move. A broad range of information services could be delivered to the NewsStream receiver, including company news (i.e., sales, pricing, shipment statistics, etc.), business news (the economy, stock market, etc.), world news, or news that is useful in one's life (weather, traffic, sports, etc.).

 Motorola believes a variety of users will gravitate to this important new technology. Traveling business executives, who rely on electronic mail or develop their view of the world from spreadsheet models, will be early users of NewsStream Advanced Information Receivers. Real estate agents away from the office need the latest listing updates or interest rate quotes. Contractors juggling multiple subcontractors, costs and job sites will seek out this wireless technology.

Investors keeping an eye on the ever-changing economy need the latest information. Sales representatives will be able to match the critical needs of their customers with the ever-changing schedules of their companies. As computer hardware from other manufacturers becomes available, the Motorola NewsStream receiver is equipped to work with them as well as the HP Palmtop. Further, as unique software applications develop from third-party providers, even more classes of users will emerge.

Radio Common Carriers (paging service providers) can provide city, regional, and national radio coverage. International coverage will evolve in coming years. A system could even cover users within a single building, shopping mall or business complex. Thus, coverage could be tailored to the onsite, local, regional, national and international needs of the portable computing public.

 The Future

Motorola and Hewlett-Packard are working with a number of third-party developers to produce applications for the HP 95LX and News-Stream. Expect to see some wondrous, imaginative, yet useful products chronicled in these pages in the coming years.

 Ordering Information

The NewsStream receiver and the Mobile Data Link software is scheduled for release in December, 1991.

The Mobile Data Link, part HP F1006A, retails for $119.95. It includes the cradle and the software to connect the HP 95LX with the NewsStream receiver.

We understand that the NewsStream receiver from Motorola will retail for $299.00. To locate the NewsStream distributor nearest you, or for pre-sale questions, call EMBARC or SkyTel at the number listed below.

Important: Each NewsStream is built to receive a fixed frequency, so choose your paging service provider prior to purchasing NewsStream.

The system requires a paging service (approximately $20 -$80 per month). Actual prices may vary based on carrier chosen, types of information received, and usage.

EMBARC (800-362-2724) and SkyTel (800-456-3333) are national carriers. EMBARC, a service of Motorola's Paging Division, will allow users to send messages through a 1200 bps RF signal in 70 metropolitan areas nationwide. (EMBARC begins operation in December 1991 and will expand into Canada and other U.S. markets in 1992.)

SkyTel currently provides service in over 200 US markets and allows users to send messages through a 1200 bps RF signal.

For local service check your Yellow Pages under "Paging Services" and ask them if they service Motorola products. Other local and regional services for Motorola's NewsStream receiver will be available in early 1992.

 International paging services for NewsStream's European users will probably not be ready until sometime in 1992. For further information, contact: Motorola GmbH, International Paging Products Division, Hagenauerstrasse 53a, 6200 Wiesbaden-Biebrich, Germany; (+49) 611-3611555.
 
 

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