Microsoft has delivered its portable operating system, Windows CE, and palmtop manufacturers seem to be falling over each other in a scramble to deliver CE hardware, but it could be some time before the devices are available locally.
US PC giant Compaq announced three handheld models for CE in its PC Companion range at the November Comdex trade show in the US and Compaq New Zealand marketing manager Tony Lambert expects these to be available here “sometime this year”. He says the devices are at present only available in North America while market demands are established.
The Compaq units feature a 40MHz Hitachi CPU, 480 x240 grey scale display, a range of RAM configurations from 2Mb to 6Mb depending on the model and the top-of-the-line C140 includes a PC Card 14.4 modem. US pricing ranges from $US499 to $US699.
Casio was another hardware manufacturer to announce product at Comdex, but once again there could be a considerable wait before these devices (dubbed the Cassiopeia) reach local shores. Dave Wenham, of Auckland-based Casio distributor Monaco Corporation says that there are still some issues to be resolved and he should be able to comment more fully in a couple of weeks.
“Tentatively, I would say, the latest date will be June this year and a tentative price for the entry-level model will be $999,” Wenham says.
The Casio products have similar specifications to the Compaq models and come in 2Mb and 4Mb configurations priced respectively at $US499 and $US599.
Windows CE products have also been announced by Korean-based manufacturer LG Electronics, Hewlett-Packard (available in the US in mid 1997), Philips (available in the US in first quarter 1997), NEC and Hitachi.
Microsoft New Zealand marketing services manager Steve Jenkins says that the company is keen to promote CE and get it utilised, but it is an OEM product that can only be bought with the devices and therefore Microsoft locally will have a limited role. He says a software developers kit is currently available for Win CE but has no details of pricing. So far there has been no demand for the kit locally.