RealTime IT News

Dell's First PDA to Debut Nov. 18

Dell Computer Monday gave its long anticipated handheld device a name and a release date.

The Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker said its new personal digital assistants - called the Axim X5 - will be available on November 18 to correspond with the COMDEX show in Las Vegas.

While company officials are keeping product information at a minimum, the company's preview Web site says the PDAs perform the usual gamut of digital assistant functions including calendar, e-mail, and synchronization. Dell said the Axim's will also be able to record voice notes or listen to audio files.

The devices will powered by Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system software and will run corresponding applications like Pocket Outlook, Pocket Excel, Pocket Word, and Pocket Internet Explorer. The handhelds are also toting wireless technology capabilities with the service sold separately.

Internal memos leaked from the company suggest there will be two versions available, priced at $199 for a 300MHz Intel XScale chip and a $299 unit with a 400MHz Intel XScale chip.

While Palm dominates PDA sales in both hardware and software, Microsoft , Sony , Hewlett-Packard , Handspring and RIMM Technologies are hot on Palm's heels. Currently Dell sells Sony and Handspring products from its e-commerce site. The company refused to comment on the future of those relationships.

"A sure sign of the maturity of the handheld market is the fact that Dell in entering the space," said Jupitermedia analyst Michael Gartenberg. "While validating the market, Dell will also bring increased pressure on rivals like HP to win the hearts and minds of users. Overall, it looks like the real battle will be in 2003 and Dell is likely to be a major player."

Microsoft's participation in Dell's Axim would also signal the first time the company's PDA operating system was used in a consumer-model unit. Palm recently began selling its Zire brand of consumer PDAs in stores like Target and Kmart.