Dell Adds Wi-Fi To New PDA

Three models feature Microsoft software and Intel processors.

Dell is feeding the market's hunger for Wi-Fi connectivity with its expanding lineup of PDAs. The company Wednesday introduced three versions of its Axim X3 model, one of which includes integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b capabilities.

All three Axim X3 PDAs ship with Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC, as well as pocket versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, and Windows Media Player. The $379 X3i wireless model and the $329 X3 nonwireless model both feature a 400-MHz Intel Xscale processor with 64 Mbytes of SDRAM, 64 Mbytes of Intel StrataFlash ROM, and a built-in Security Digital input/output slot for connecting peripheral devices. The $229 X3 model features a 300-MHz Xscale processor, 32 Mbytes of SDRAM, 32 Mbytes of Flash ROM, and a USB sync cable.

Standardization on Intel processors and Microsoft software and the use of Wi-Fi standards have made it easier to buy and connect wireless devices, says Warren Wilson, a practice leader with research firm Summit Strategies.

Dell's embrace of standards has helped the company make a successful move into the PDA market, says Scott Smyser, a senior analyst with market research firm iSuppli/Stanford Resources. The move to embedded Wi-Fi on PDA devices makes sense because the screen size and overall size let users efficiently connect to a network when they don't want to carry a notebook computer. Although high-end "smart" phones are making handsets more versatile, Smyser doesn't think those phones will displace PDAs anytime soon.

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