After almost a year of will-they-won’t-they speculation, Dell has finally announced that it is to launch its own line of personal digital assistants (PDAs).
The announcement adds further competition to an already crowded market and also offers a boost to the sector, given that the computer giant is often cautious in choosing the products it sells.
The new PDAs, which will be branded Axim, have been launched at the Comdex 2002 trade show in Las Vegas. The first model, the X5, is based on the Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC operating system and is available in either US$199 or US$299 configurations. Both configurations feature dual-slot (Compact Flash and Secure Digital) expansion slots. No details on Irish pricing were available at the time of writing.
The high-end Axim X5 configuration is powered by a 400MHz Intel Xscale processor and offers 64MB of SDRAM, along with 48MB of Intel StrataFlash ROM. The built-in Secure Digital and Compact Flash slots can host a number of devices ranging from 802.11b wireless adaptors to memory expansion. A 3.5-inch TFT colour display is standard on both Axim X5 configurations, with 240×320 resolution.
Users with lower memory and speed requirements can opt for the X5’s budget configuration, which has an Intel Xscale 300MHz processor, 48MB of SDRAM, 32MB of Flash ROM and a USB sync-cable instead of a cradle, along with all the other features of the high-end unit. Both units will be offered with a wide variety of accessories, such as folding and snap-on keyboards and leather carrying case.
The Dell Axim will initially be available in the US and Canada. There are plans to launch the new PDA in other regions in early 2003.
The Axim will face entrenched competitors in the handheld computer market. One of the most formidable is HP, which unveiled two new iPaq models at Comdex. One is the new high-end HP iPaq Pocket PC h5450, with built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b capabilities for wireless connectivity, a fingerprint sensor, colour screen – all powered by a 400MHz Intel XScale PXA250 processor. It will retail at US$699. The other model is a lighter weight HP iPaq Pocket PC h1910, which has a 200MHz Intel Xscale chip and costs US$299.
By Dick O’Brien