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Dell debuts own-brand handheld

From $299

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Dell today starts selling its first own-brand handheld, a Pocket PC PDA retailing from $199 (after something called a mail-in rebate of $50). Called the Dell Axim X5, the basic model comes with a 300MHz Intel XScale CPU and 32MB of SDRAM and 32MB of Flash Rom. A more fully-specced device with a 400MHz XScale chip, 64MB of SDRAM, 48MB of Flash ROM, and a USB cradle starts at $299 (also with the $50 mail-in rebate).

It's small and light too - unlike HP which today claims the smallest, lightest Pocket PC, Dell has kindly supplied us with dimensions for its little device - -128mm x 81.5mm x 18mm. It weighs 196 grams. The Axim X5 is supplied with CF Type II and SD slots for storage expansion and wireless options; an IRDA port, and an optional 802.11b WLAN card.

Dell Axim X5

OK, so it's not the meatiest spec in town, but the X5 hits a nice price point. Expect the head-to-head reviews with the HP h1910 to tumble out of the hardware sites RSN.

Also you have to hand it to Dell for getting a PDA at this price point when it said it would. The company found a Taiwanese contractor to make the PDAs only in August this year - as we wrote at the time, "Dell's rock-bottom, sweatshop price demands had scared away other contract manufacturers, who couldn't see the deal making them enough money. Or any money".

Dell has fairly limited ambitions for PDA sales - the market is very small in comparison with mobile phones, on the one hand, and notebooks, on the other. But it has ambitious revenues growth targets overall: with desktop PC sales challenging, even for Dell, the company has to look elsewhere to carry on hitting the numbers.

The big prizes will come if it gets Western Europe up to par with US performance, and if it can cut a swathe through HP and IBM's Intel server and storage share. Both are much easier said than done. Secondary growth avenues - new revenue lines such as printers, networking equipment, and PDAs - will prove useful, rather than spectacular contributions. ®

Dell Axim press release

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