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New Handhelds Stress Light Weight, WiFi

10/27/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Several handheld computer vendors debuted their fall PDA lines that highlighted light weight and wireless operability.

The new models include Dell's first WiFi unit, Hewlett-Packard's first iPAQ with a built-in micro keyboard and a 128MB Pocket PC from Toshiba. These are joined by two new sleek entry-level models from Sony.

Dell announced three new Axim X3 models, claiming it reached the No. 2 spot in worldwide and U.S. Pocket PC sales in less than a year on the market. Dell claimed the new models are 28 percent lighter than the X5 series, which will remain in the lineup. All three X3 units have SDIO slots, 3.5-inch transflective TFT color displays with 240-by-320 resolution and XScale processors. The X3i adds 802.11b with 400MHz processor and 64MB of SDRAM at $379. The step-down model, minus the WiFi, sells for $329 and the third model, with 300MHz processor and 32MB of RAM sells at $229.

Sony's new CLIE Palm-based PEG-TJ25 and PEG-TJ35 start at $199 estimated street price. They are designed to offer basic features in a high-styled aluminum case. The devices also feature more bundled software for easier setup, MP3 player capability, handwriting recognition and software for viewing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. The models use 200MHz processors. The TJ25 offers 16MB of RAM at $199, and the TJ35 offers 32MB of RAM at $249.

Toshiba is taking a mid-to-high-end approach with its new consumer model, the e400, and its professional-level e800. The company claimed the e400 is the thinnest PocketPC made and that it has a screen 25 percent to 33 percent brighter than comparable units.

The two models offer 32MB of built-in flash memory that will retain data even with a dead battery, and each can be voice operated through a voice recognition application. Finally, the models allow text-to-speech conversion so e-mail headers can be read aloud to the user.

The e800 has built-in WiFi, dual Secure Digital (SD) and CompactFlash slot. The e800 also has an RGB port to connect to a digital projector. The pack has an estimated price of $99.

Craig Marking, Toshiba's senior product marketing manager, said, "We want to test the market. We figured we could defeature these and go with the most aggressive price point possible, or go with some distinguishable features that will make the units stand out on the shelf."

The e400 has a 300MHz XScale processor, 64MB of RAM, and SD port. The transflective screen is 3.5 inches with 65,536 colors. Suggested retail price is $299.

The e800 has a 4-inch transflective screen, 400MHz Xscale processor with 128MB of RAM. Suggested retail price is $599.

These include three new units that are 28 percent lighter than the original Dell PDAs.

HP's new 4150 and 4350 iPAQs offer integrated Bluetooth and WiFi and run Windows Mobile 2003. HP claimed that the new 4150 is one of the lightest and thinnest Pocket PCs below $500. It uses an Intel 400MHz XScale processor and has 64 MB of RAM and an SDIO slot.

The 4350 includes many of the same features and adds a built-in, back-lit micro-keyboard and a larger removable lithium ion battery.

The H4150 is now available at www.HPshopping.com at a street price of $449. The H4350, to be available in November, will carry a street price of $449.

HP also announced an iPAQ navigation system designed to wirelessly send turn-by-turn directions to a Bluetooth-enabled PDA. The system includes a Bluetooth GPS receiver with built-in antenna and it provides visual and voice directions. It is expected to carry a street price of approximately $400.

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