More Wireless Laptop Options

Hewlett-Packard on Monday announced it has struck a deal with 3Com to provide Bluetooth wireless PC cards for HP's OmniBook and Pavilion notebook computers.

Available in November, the 3COM Bluetooth PC cards will sell for $US149.

Along with Bluetooth, which is a low-power, low-range radio technology for personal connectivity, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer maker will also begin rolling out 802.11 wireless LAN (local area network) solutions for its mobile computer offerings sometime late this year or by early 2001, according to Anthony McMahon, a marketing manager for HP's OmniBook notebook PCs.

The announcement follows similar moves by Armonk, New York-based IBM Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. in Round Rock, Texas. Both IBM and Dell will offer embedded Bluetooth and 802.11 solutions as options in certain laptops by the end of this year, according to officials of both companies.

While HP has kept room inside its OmniBook and Pavilion notebooks designed specifically to house embedded wireless solutions, McMahon said HP will wait for the adoption of Bluetooth and 802.11 to increase before the company begins embedding either wireless solution within the chassis of its notebooks.

Equating the decision with the evolution of other embedded hardware, McMahon said "before everyone was embedding wired Ethernet and wired modems, those solutions were predominately PC card, initially. But as the volume increased with the number of people adopting it, you started to see those technologies get embedded as they are today. It's the same sort of thing you're going to see [from HP] in the Bluetooth space."

In related Bluetooth news, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., based in Irvine-Calif., which currently sells a Bluetooth PC card solution for its laptops in Japan, will launch a domestic version of the wireless PC card technology on September 25, according to company sources.

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