IN a move that puts it directly in competition with Japanese firms such as Sharp and Casio, US computer firm Hewlett-Packard has introduced a device that is 'less than a personal digital assistant but more than an organiser'. But the OmniGo 100, which HP promises to have on the market by next month, is only the forerunner to a more complex device that will combine its 200LX palmtop computer with a Nokia cellular telephone to provide palm-based computing on the go. The OmniGo 100 is being positioned as an 'organiser plus', according to John Arifin, marketing manager, handheld products for HP Asia-Pacific's personal information products group. The next stage will be a machine designed through a joint venture between HP and telecommunications giant Nokia, and is a high-end product. The OmniGo 700 will not be available till early next year, but when it is, users will be able to go so far as send and receive faxes and electronic mail with it with the help of a Nokia mobile phone that fits into a slot on top of the device. The computer itself is a redesigned version of HP's 200LX palmtop computer built to accommodate and work with the Nokia 2110 GSM digital mobile phone. 'Basically, it is the easiest seamless integration of voice and data to-date,' Mr Arifin said, showing off a prototype version of the OmniGo 700. Users of HP's first generation of palmtop computer, the 95LX, may want to switch to an OmniGo 100 rather than to later versions of the LX series, the 100LX and 200LX, Mr Arifin said. However, PDA users with higher needs than just organising themselves would prefer to use the 200LX, he said. 'I don't see that 200LX users will want to convert to the OmniGo,' Mr Arifin said. 'The 200LX is still slightly higher in performance and therefore higher priced, but pen input [on the OmniGo] is a key function differentiation.' The OmniGo, which runs on the Geos operating system, comes with the handwriting recognition software Graffitti built in. The machine does, however, have a keypad that can also be used for data entry. The screen flips over onto its back should the user wish to use pen input and hold it like a note pad. The screen orientation can also be changed from vertical to horizontal to suit user preferences. It comes with an appointment book, phonebook, notepad world time and stopwatch, jotter and database built in. But HP has not stopped there, adding financial calculator functions and a basic spreadsheet, too. According to Mr Arifin, the spreadsheet is not a scaled-down version of Lotus 1-2-3 as is the case with the LX palmtop range. Rather, it is a basic 'rows-and-columns' spreadsheet. The data from this spreadsheet is, however, portable to Lotus 1-2-3 or Microsoft Excel - after HP makes the OmniGo-to-PC connection kit and a program called Clip-and-Go available in December. In addition, unlike the LX series the OmniGo 100 will not have infrared transmission capabilities. 'Although a lot of people use infrared, a lot of people can live without and make do with a cable connection,' he said. The connectivity pack would allow for data transfer from other organisers capable of uploading data to a PC, and then to the OmniGo, according to Mr Arifin. This, however, has to take place in a roundabout manner, with the data from the 'other organisers' first being uploaded onto a PC before being moved to an OmniGo. 'This will be a great way to capture users of other products to get them to migrate to this product,' Mr Arifin said. Although the OmniGo 100 will not feature any built-in communications software, a type two PC Card (formerly PCMCIA) slot will allow a modem to be connected to the device should third-part communications become available for it, Mr Arifin said. The OmniGo 100 will cost about $3,800.