Apple iPad targeted by Avaya device

Chameleon appliance touted on the eve of the Worldwide Developers Conference

While Apple is set to rev up the hype machine at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Avaya seems about ready to introduce an iPad-like device for business users that might steal a little of Steve Jobs’ thunder. The Avaya device acts like a phone, has support for video and all manner of wireless technology.

The concept of such a chameleon appliance was revealed by Avaya during VoiceCon last fall when the company said it would blend the device with versions of Skype, Google and Yahoo applications hardened for business use.

The company said then that the hardware would be coming out this spring, so the company has about two weeks left to make good on that promise.Avaya has been hinting around for weeks that it has a big announcement in July, and this could be it. A report to the FCC from a company called Atheros Communications, Inc., indicates it performed radio-frequency tests on an Avaya device.

Avaya wouldn’t say whether this is the chameleon device or not. “Sorry, but we have no comments on any filings made by other vendors that may appear to depict Avaya products,” a spokeswoman wrote in response to an e-mail seeking more detail.

According to a report on the radio capabilities of the device submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, the test looked at wireless emissions and the function of the device’s antenna. It was tested for frequencies 30-200MHz, 200-1,000MHz, 1-18GHz and 18-40GHz, so it covers the radio spectrum for all flavors of Wi-Fi, WiMax as well as Bluetooth.

A photo of the device features a Harmon Kardon logo, which suggests speakers as well.The device - referred to as a tablet PC model 2010-70DO1A-003 - reported on to the FCC may be a second-generation of the appliance. When Avaya senior vice president for global communications solutions Alan Baratz spoke about it last fall, he said the initial offering would be wired as for deployment in corporate networks.

A diagram of the test configuration shows the device connected to a docking station equipped with an LCD monitor, phone handset and earphone, indicating it is meant for office use and to be undocked and used as a mobile device.

In addition to calling it a tablet PC, the report describes it as “a kind of computer peripheral, because the connection to computer is necessary for typical use.” The device was tested with a docking station, wireless switch hook and handset from Avaya; a monitor and notebook from Dell; USB flash drives from Transcend; earphones from Phillips; external hard drives from Terasys; and a telephone from Wonder.

Baratz said last fall that the device he described was primarily meant to support high-definition audio and low-bandwidth video, but he also implied that it would try to fulfill businesses’ needs for desktops, laptops and other portable wireless devices. The uniting factor among these devices will be client software with a common feel so users can be comfortable with the client regardless of the device they use to communicate.

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