Handspring just got more handy. The Palm-clone handheld firm today unveiled a new line of products designed to integrate phone capabilities and PDA (personal digital assistant) functionality.

The new product line, Treo, will be released in the first quarter of 2002 and will complement the company's existing line of Visor handheld computers, said Mark Dadger, a product manager with Handspring.

Previously, if users wanted to add wireless data capabilities to Handspring's Visors, they would need to purchase a Springboard module, which would attach to the back of the device. The new devices have a windowed flip-up cover in which the window is the size of the display on the unit, Dadger said.

Handspring unveiled two Treo models: the Treo 180, which uses a small keyboard for data entry, and the 180G, which features Palm's Graffiti handwriting recognition.

"We really feel strongly that the keyboard adds advantages for integrating the device with cell phone capabilities," said Gadger. "On the other hand, we realise that people like Graffiti."

The Treo 180 and 180G will both be enabled for wireless communication using GSM (global system for mobile communications), and the software will allow users to upgrade to GPRS (general packet radio services) service in the future, Dadger said.

The device also has several onscreen features, including memory for as many as 50 one-touch dialling entries, a phone keypad, an address book viewable by first or last name, an integrated Blazer Web browser and SMS (short message service) capability, Dadger said. "We've also gone pretty far out of our way to make sure these phones are usable with one hand," he said. "You never use two hands to use a regular cell phone."

The Treo also features a headphone jack and a switch that allows people to choose between two specified ringer tones, he said.

Handspring is also planning to release software for the device that would let people check email from their ISPs. In addition, the company plans to release a version with a colour display in the middle of next year, Dadger said.

Expect to pay something like £400 for the Treo 180 and 180G without a connection deal.