Compaq has debuted new devices in its iPAQ line, as well as services intended to allow Internet access in any room of the home or at work, because increasingly Net users want ubiquitous connectivity.
Researchers forecast that 45 per cent of US Internet users will use more than one Net device by 2003, according to Mike Larson, Compaq's senior vice president and general manager for the consumer products group.
Compaq announced a number of devices aimed mostly at the consumer market. These include IPaq BlackBerry - wireless e-mail software and devices that can be handheld or worn. Compaq will offer two devices that enable e-mail access from nearly anywhere in the US, company officials said.
Compaq also announced the IPaq Home Internet Appliance, or "Web in a box" which is meant to provide instant Internet access. Users simply plug it in and turn it on.
"It's incredibly easy to use," said Rick Belluzzo, group vice president for the consumer group at Microsoft. The appliance uses Microsoft's MSN Companion Service so that users can quickly set up an e-mail account and receive 24-hour support from Microsoft.
Automatic software updates will be made occasionally over the Internet for maintenance and to protect against obsolescence. Consumers who want a PC alternative for e-mail and simple Web access are the target audience for the device, which turns on like a TV.
The vendor has partnered with security vendor WatchGuard Technologies to offer IPaq Connection Point. The device enables wireless access and home networking using existing phone lines, wireless networking for mobility, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet networking or a combination of those three. WatchGuard is providing firewall protection, parental control, content filtering and security service for the device.
Compaq also unveiled an audio player - the IPaq PA-1. The player will come bundled with two SandDisk 32 MB solid state MultiMedia cards.