Product developers for Compaq Computer Corp. joke that the well-publicized problems with Apple Computer Inc.'s Newton personal digital assistant (PDA) stem from a "ton of new"--new operating system, new microprocessor, new electronics. That's why Compaq thinks it will have better luck with its first PDA, due out by next spring. Named the Mobile Companion, the device will be based on more time-tested technology, including an Intel 386 microprocessor and a compressed version of Microsoft's Windows operating software called At Work.
But there will be plenty new about the Mobile Companion. The device features a chip set called Polar, designed by VLSI Technology Inc. with Intel Corp. These chips, in conjunction with the Intel 386, will allow the PDA to connect to other PCs in a network. To route messages and files to their proper place, the PDA will use an untested cellular networking program called MobileWare from a Dallas startup, 21CenNet. Based on these technologies, Compaq says that the Mobile Companion could be a hot seller by 1995.