Apple, HP PDAs will surf Web

Scaled-down browsers will give users of Apple and Hewlett-Packard personal digital assistants (PDAs) a hand-held view of the World Wide Web.

Scaled-down browsers will give users of Apple and Hewlett-Packard personal digital assistants (PDAs) a hand-held view of the World Wide Web. PDAs based on Apple's Newton 2.0 OS can now surf the Web with a browser from AllPen Software.

The NetHopper, priced at US$50, is text-based and does not allow viewing of Web graphics. Officials say they plan to add graphics capabilities in a future version.

Some industry analysts say the lack of graphics is actually a plus. "PDA browsers have been just awful and slow," says Ken Dunlaney, an analyst with Gartner Group, in Santa Clara, California. "Limiting their access to text is a good idea."

NetHopper is compatible with any PDA using Newton OS 2.0. The browser will connect to the Web via Internet service providers that support Point to Point Protocol/SLIP connections and will work with peripherals supported by Newton 2.0.

A Web browser designed for HP's DOS-based OmniGo and LX hand-held devices is due to ship later this month from DNA Software. The US$99 Web/LX browser provides support for a graphical user interface on the systems, in addition to a communications stack that brings TCP/IP support to HP's hand-held offerings, says David Shier, vice-president of DNA Software.

The software will support five fonts and GIF file formats for monochrome graphics displays but won't support extended features such as Java or Virtual Reality Modeling Language, Shier says. The software will be distributed by Shier Systems and Software, in Westlake Village, California.

AllPen, in Los Gatos, California, is at (408) 399-4395 and Shier Systems is at (805) 371-9391.

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