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Left to Our Own Devices

Dodging the canapés and the wild packs of stray color printers roaming the annual Mobile Focus event in New York City, Unstrung was able to get its grubby paws on some of the devices that may -- or may not -- be rockin' your wireless world later this year.

First up, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was showing a combined phone and organizer based on its Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system. VoiceStream Wireless Corp. will launch the device, which is being manufactured by High Tech Computer (HTC) in midsummer. Nice handwriting recognition and color screen, but the device still appears to have the soul of a bulky old digital assistant and doesn't slip easily into the pocket (we know -- we tried).

Handspring Inc. has a color version of its Treo smartphone ready. The GPRS-enabled 270 (catchy!) is currently only available for order via the company's Website, but will apparently be available from network operators soon. We spent a few brief moments giving it a road test. And the verdict? The color screen seems to be an improvement in terms of usability, but we can offer no details on how it might affect battery life. Handspring is also working on a CDMA version.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion (RIM) Limited is refreshing its device lineup with color screens and support for more networks. The Canadian vendor had a plastic mockup of the sort of device that will by offered later this year by Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) on its iDEN network and Sprint PCS (NYSE: PCS) over CDMA 1xRTT.

Speaking of Sprint, and the summer launch of its nationwide CDMA 1xRTT network (everything we've heard points to August as the likely date), Kyocera Wireless Corp. was showing the latest rev of its Palm OS-based smartphone. Sprint will start offering this phone in the later part of this year, according to a Kyocera spokesperson.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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