By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New PDA brands are debuting this month from several non-traditional suppliers, including scooter maker Razor, ViewSonic and Danger.
Razor is debuting an XScale-based Pocket PC aimed at the young professional. The company says it is entering the PDA market because it fits with Razor's strategy of selling "innovative, technologically advanced, youth lifestyle products," according to marketing VP Katherine Mahoney. She added that "Gen X really defines youth psychographically," referring to youth as an attitude more than an age.
Razor says its PDA, the Zayo A600, is technologically advanced because "it has been especially designed to optimize the XScale processor," according to a spokesman who noted that the unit has the fastest video frame rate on the market at 54 frames per second.
The Zayo comes in an aluminum case and has 64MB of memory at $549 ($499 after mail-in rebate). The Zayo A600 is the slimmest PDA, Razor claimed, and it has 30 percent longer battery life.
Other Zayo features include keypad buttons that have a flashing blue backlighting when pressed, an SD slot, and an optional sleeve with an additional battery and CF slot for $100. The Zayo A600 is expected to go on sale Oct. 22 at Office Depot, Staples and Bestbuy.com. A spokesman said the Zayo A600 should be available in Best Buy stores by Christmas.
ViewSonic's new device is the first Pocket PC to break the $300 barrier. Called the V35, it runs on the XScale processor, and ViewSonic claims it is the smallest and lightest Pocket PC to date at 4.2 ounces. The V35 is aimed at "Palm customers who want a new device with more functionality, or they want a low cost PDA," said David Feldman, senior product manager for mobile and wireless. "There's still a huge market in sub-$400 PDAs for those users who do not need wireless."
The V35 does not ship with a modem, although it has an SDIO slot. Other features include 64MB of RAM and 32MB of flash memory. The unit has a transflective 240 by 320 LCD with more than 64,000 colors. The V35 is expected to ship to ViewSonic retailers in early November at $299.
ViewSonic said it entered the category to leverage its screen technology, now available on screens from 3.5 to 300 inches. "When we looked at this market and specifically at the price point, we determined that the most important component of the PDA is its screen. The end user is requiring a screen that is bright and brilliant and that's something which is our heritage," Feldman said.
Danger also began shipping early this month its long awaited T-Mobile Sidekick — a handheld device with thumb keypad that supports wireless data and voice functionality. It offers full Web browsing, AOL Instant Messenger and can send e-mail and attachments. The Sidekick also operates as a mobile phone, PDA and it has digital camera attachments. It is available through T-Mobile and CompUSA at $200 after a $50 rebate.
The Sidekick has a monthly service fee of $39.99 for unlimited data usage, plus 200 anytime voice minutes and 1,000 weekend minutes. It operates on the T-Mobile GSM/GPRS nationwide network.
Royal debuted a new low-cost PDA/organizer, the first to offer e-mail and 16MB of memory for under $100. The Linea 16 comes with a built-in 56K modem and has a rechargeable lithium ion battery. It has 16MB of RAM and an e-mail client as well as a 160 by 200 backlit LCD. An optional snap on serial module allows wireless e-mail using a cellphone (users must purchase a serial connection cable for their particular cellphone). The unit comes with a desktop cradle for PC synchronization and it synchronizes with Outlook, Act!, Goldmine, and Lotus Organizer. The Linea 16 also offers handwriting recognition. Suggested retail for the unit is $99, and RoyalNet service for e-mail is $9.95 per month. The step-down model, Linea 8, has 8MB of memory and 160 by 160 LCD. It has an optional 56K modem and offers handwriting recognition, PC cradle and the same synchronization capabilities as the Linea 16. Suggested retail is $59.99.
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