When the Dell Axim X5 line was first released late last year, it made news for its low cost. Plus, Dell sweetened the deal by offering $50 rebates on both models. This reduced the price of the entry-level model to just $199, the first time a Pocket PC debuted for a low-end price.
However, Dell stopped offering these rebates in late January, bringing the cost of the Axim X5 Entry up to $250 and the Axim X5 Advanced up to $350. Of course, these are still very good prices for handhelds with the X5 line's features.
Since then, Dell has continued to fiddle with the cost of these. Earlier this month, it offered 20% off the price of each, though this was good only for a few days.
And now the company is again offering the $50 mail-in rebates on both members of the X5 line. This offer is good on handhelds bought on or before March 19.
If rumors about a new low-cost Toshiba model turn out to be true, Dell may need to stop offering rebates and just lower the cost of the Entry model to compete. Supposedly, Toshiba will introduce the e350 next month with a 300 MHz Intel XScale processor and 64MB of RAM priced at $200.
Many companies offer rebates rather than price reductions for several reasons.
A rebate is temporary. It allows a company to reduce the cost of a handheld to see if this spurs demand without committing to the new price.
Also, rebates usually don't count in the salesperson's commission. If one model sells for $200 while another is $250 with a $50 rebate, the customer generally thinks the prices of these two models are the same but the salesperson gets a higher commission on the second one and will therefore sometimes try to steer the customer towards it. This isn't the case with these particular rebates, as the Axim Line is available only through Dell's website.
A surprisingly large number of people never send in the rebate forms. Therefore a customer may pick a particular model because it was cheaper than a competitor after a rebate, then never claim the rebate.
Finally, it is a way for a company for essentially get a free loan from its customers. People who bought an Axim last year are now getting emails telling them their rebate checks will be arriving in about another month.
The Axim X5 Entry includes a 300 MHz XScale processor and 32 MB of memory. The Advanced one has a 400 MHz processor and 64 MB of memory. They run Pocket PC 2002.
Both models measure 5.0" tall, 3.2" wide and 0.7" thick, weigh 6.9 ounces, and come with a directional pad on the front and jog wheel on the side. The screens on both Axim X5 models are 3.5" transflective color screens capable of displaying 65,000 colors at 320 pixels by 240 pixels.
Both models have dual SD/MMC and CompactFlash slots. The Advanced one comes with a synchronization cradle, while the Entry model does not.
Dell appears to have made some progress in clearing up earlier shortages of these. According to the company's website, an X5 ordered today will ship on March 7. This is a significant improvement when compared to last month, when customers were told it would be two or three weeks before their handheld would ship.
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