Dell has unveiled three new Axim personal digital assistants (PDAs), adding the Bluetooth short-range wireless networking technology for the first time.
The new Axim X30 models are also Dell’s first PDAs to use Intel’s new XScale processors. Four PXA270 processors were released in April, featuring various clock speeds and improved security and multimedia features. Dell customers can choose between the 312MHz processor and the fastest chip in the group, the 624MHz processor.
PalmOne’s new Zire 72 was launched in April with the 312MHz chip.
Dell’s customers can also choose between non-wireless or wireless versions of the X30. The two wireless configurations come with support for 802.11b Wi-Fi networks as well as Bluetooth.
Bluetooth was designed as a cable-replacement technology for peripheral devices such as keyboards or headsets, Dell’s product marketing manager for Axim, Gervaise Nix, said.
Several customers in Europe also used Bluetooth PDAs to connect to Bluetooth mobile phones to synchronise data and connect to the Internet over the phone’s modem, she said.
Rival PDA companies such as PalmOne and HP have already added Bluetooth to their products. The wireless technology is appreciated by tech-savvy users but mainstream users have found it difficult to set up and configure.
However, it is becoming much easier to use Bluetooth to connect to peripheral devices, according to principal Gartner analyst, Todd Kort.
Dell probably decided to wait until many of Bluetooth’s problems had been ironed out before releasing a Bluetooth PDA, he said.
In June, Dell would introduce several peripherals such as a Bluetooth keyboard and a Global Positioning System (GPS) kit to use in conjunction with the Axim X30, Nix said.
PDA shipments have steadily declined during the past few years, but Dell has gained market share since launching its first handheld in 2002. It now ranks in fourth place among all PDA vendors, behind PalmOne, HP and Sony in terms of shipments.
Dell was one of the first PDA vendors to release a device based on the new Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition operating system unveiled in March, Kort said.
Other PDAs from vendors such as HP would follow in coming months, he said.
The X30 has the same dimensions as the X3, a slimmed-down version of Dell’s original X5 PDA, Nix said. The X30 measures 122.4mm x 77.2mm x 14.9mm and weighs 139gm. It comes with a 3.5-inch display and a Secure Digital I/O slot.