HP's OmniGo 700LX Communicator Plus

Phone, fax, e-mail, and surf the net wherever you are. When available, HPs new OmniGo 700LX will integrate the power of the HP Palmtop's built-in applications with the flexibility of cellular phone communications.

By Rich Hall

OG 700LX Graphic

 Hewlett-Packard and Nokia Mobile Phones announced October 4 of this year that they planned to co-develop handheld devices that combine handheld computer and mobile telephone technologies. They quickly followed the announcement up with the introduction of their first jointly developed product, the HP OmniGo 700LX Communicator Plus.

The explosive growth of wireless communications is fueled by new business, environmental and occupational trends, necessitating that business executives be less desk-bound and more on-the-go. A recent survey found that the top needs of mobile executives were voice communications, fax capability, wireless data communications, and a computing device with a keyboard and internal storage.

The OmniGo 700LX is designed to integrate handheld computing with wireless mobile communications. Nokia's cellular technology uses existing GSM voice and data services which are standard in many places around the world. The HP Palmtop provides a well-tested handheld computing platform.

An integrated solution to wireless communication

The OmniGo 700LX is more than a cellular phone strapped to a Palmtop. The functions of the Palmtop and the cellular phone have been integrated to provide easy access to voice, fax, and e-mail communications capabilities.

Physically, the HP OmniGo 700LX looks and functions like an HP 200LX with a slightly larger case accommodating a built-in "docking station" for a Nokia 2110 GSM cellular phone. The OmniGo 700LX with a docked cellular phone is slightly longer, wider, and thicker than an HP 200LX.

HP 700LX With Phone Graphic

 The OmniGo 700LX has a single Type II PC Card slot, 2MB of internal RAM, RS-232 serial port and IrDA-compliant infrared port, 80 x 25 character display. The Memo hotkey has been replaced with a Fax key and the OmniGo 700LX's colors are different from the 200LX. Finally, there are 3 LEDs on the front edge of the case: battery low, communications, and Appointment Book alarm due.

APPPMGR Screen from OG 700LX

 In addition to the 200LXs suite of built-in software, the OmniGo 700LX comes with send and receive fax software and the Short Message Service (SMS) application.

OG 700LX SMS Application Screen

 The Nokia cellular phone has its own battery and AC adapter. Like the HP 200LX, the OmniGo 700LX can function either on 2 standard 1.5V alkaline (one use) batteries or rechargeable NiCd batteries. When docked, the Nokia AC charger plugs into the OmniGo 700LX and charges both the phone and an OmniGo 700LX (with NiCds) simultaneously.

The life of the battery depends on use. Continuous faxing will drain the Palmtops fully-charged battery within several hours. The Palmtop does NOT draw any battery from the phone. The additional power used when communicating is a result of powering up the GSM fax/modem built into the system.

Typical uses of the system

The OmniGo 700LX and Nokia cellular phone provide an integrated communications system that needs no additional cables or PC Cards, and very little setup.

You can leave the Nokia cellular phone docked to the Palmtop and use the built-in software to send and receive faxes and e-mail. When you need to talk on the phone, open the Palmtop, go to the PhoneBook, find the phone number of the person you want to call and press a button to automatically dial the number. When the call goes through, detach phone and talk. Leave the Palmtop open while you talk and make changes to the Appointment Book or PhoneBook as needed.

The fax/modem card built into the OmniGo 700LX means that the units PC Card slot is available during communications. You can add a Flash card for more memory, a paging device, or an Ethernet LAN adapter, without giving up communications capability.

HP OmniGo 700LX to be released first in Europe and the Asia/Pacific region

HP will start shipping the OmniGo 700LX in early 1996. They will introduce the 700LX in the Europe and Asia/Pacific markets simultaneously. The U.S. release will come later.

The delay in the U.S. release has to do with the lack of GSM coverage in the U.S. There are many different digital cellular standards in the U.S. The current network is a patchwork of TDMA (time division multiple access), CDMA (code division multiple access) and emerging pockets of GSM (global system for mobile communication, which is a subset of TDMA). The Nokia cellular phone used with the 700LX is GSM based.

Several cellular service providers in the U.S. have plans for offering GSM services, but their schedules range from the middle to end 1996 for introduction. These include Pacific Telesis, BellSouth, American Personal Communications and several others. Their offering will cover different parts of the U.S. Some of them have successfully bid to serve specific metropolitan areas.

The U.S. introduction will come later in 1996, to areas where GSM services are made available in the U.S. This release of the HP OmniGo 700LX only works with the Nokia 2110 GSM cellular phone.

How the service is marketed will vary by region and country. In some parts of Europe service providers are not allowed to sell the hand phone. Users in these regions will have to purchase the system and service separately. HP will sell the 700LX (minus the phone) through its existing HP reseller channels.