Dell dives into handheld market

Dell Canada’s new Axim represents the North York, Ont.-based firm’s recent foray into an already crowded handheld computer space – and Dell is making sure its pricing is competitive.

Available now, the first model, the X5, is based on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Pocket PC software and is available in two configurations priced at $379 and $549 respectively.

Delll Canada said it is offering an after-purchase rebate on both offerings. Dell also on Tuesday sent out e-mails to previous customers offering an additional 10 per cent off those prices before Nov. 25.

The higher-priced Axim X5 configuration uses an Intel XScale processor at 400MHz and offers 64MB of SDRAM, along with 48MB of Intel StrataFlash ROM.

On the lower end, the X5’s $379 configuration features 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 more expensive unit.

Both Axim models feature a 3.5-inch transflective TFT colour display and Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Software Pocket versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player.

Both units will be offered along with accessories that can be purchased at Dell’s Web site, the company said.

The X5 is but the first in a series of planned Axims, Dell executives say. Early in 2003, the company plans to launch a thin and lightweight Axim, the X3, and a wireless-enabled version, the X7.

Dell’s announcement follows other hardware vendors who have seemingly flooded an already crowded PDA (personal digital assistant) market.

Longtime Pocket PC vendor Hewlett-Packard Co. beefed up the high end of its iPaq line last week with a device for US$699 that includes built-in 802.11b wireless networking technology. The iPaq H5450 has the same body as previous releases, making it compatible with existing sleds, which can be used to add such components as a digital camera or global positioning device.

HP also made a play for the low-cost market with a US$299 version of its handheld. The iPaq H1910 is smaller than its predecessors and features only basic applications such as calendaring and a phone book.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palm Inc. last month unveiled two new handhelds under its Tungsten brand that introduced phone features and built-in support for the wireless Bluetooth technology to its line-up.

Designed specifically for enterprise users, the Tungsten devices feature Palm’s new five-way navigator, a dial on the face of each device that can be used to navigate the display with one hand. Both also sport 320-by-320 pixel, 16-bit colour displays, 16MB of RAM (random access memory) and an SD (secure digital) drive.

The devices also are Palm’s first to include built-in support for Bluetooth. When they use the PDAs in conjunction with a Bluetooth mobile phone, users can browse the Web, send and receive e-mail and dial a phone number directly from the address book. Pricing starts at $549, according to Palm Canada.

– With files from IDG News Service