News from Comdex Fall 2002

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As expected, Dell and Hewlett-Packard launched new Pocket PC models today at the Comdex Fall 2002 trade show in Las Vegas, while PalmSource announced that Fossil would join the ranks of Palm OS licensees, with the world’s first Palm Powered watch.

Dell’s new Axim models are the personal computer giant’s first foray into the PDA space, while H-P’s iPAQ h1910 and h5450 are the first models from the Compaq line since it was absorbed into Hewlett-Packard. But one of the big questions is whether Comdex, operated by Key3Media, which hinted at bankruptcy last week, will soon become a tech industry memory.

Dell

Dell Axim X5 Pocket PC The Dell AXIM X5 Advanced and X5 Entry are virtually identical models, except that the X5 Advanced has a more powerful processor, double the memory, and includes a synchronization cradle and, of course, a slightly bigger price tag.

The X5 Entry, which retails for $249, is powered by a 300 MHz XScale processor and comes with 32MB of RAM and a synchronization cable rather than a cradle. Meanwhile, the Axim X5 Advanced, which retails for $349, is powered by a 400 MHz XScale processor and comes with 64MB of RAM.

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 two expansion slots: a CompactFlash Type II slot and a Secure Digital card slot. In addition, they will use 1440 mAh Lithium ion removable batteries, and a 3400 mAh battery will be sold separately.

Both Axim X5 models are available on Dell’s website, which offers a $50 mail-in rebate, or can be ordered through Dell kiosks located in certain retail locations.

Hewlett-Packard

iPAQ h1910 Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard launched two new models: the iPAQ h1910, an ultra-thin handheld that retails for $299, and the iPAQ h5450, a full-featured model that retails for $699.

At only 1/2″ thick and 4.2 ounces, the h1910 is slimmer and lighter than previous iPAQ models. It has a 200MHz Intel XScale processor and 64MB of RAM, of which 48 MB is accessible by the user, and 16MB of ROM. It has an SD/MMC slot for external memory but continues the iPAQ heritage of forgoing a CompactFlash slot.

The iPAQ h1910 is also the first iPAQ that comes with a removable Lithium-ion battery and the first that does not support the standard iPAQ Expansion Packs, commonly referred to as sleeves. Also, the h1910 ships with a synchronization cable instead of a cradle.

iPAQ h5450 The iPAQ h5450 is powered by a 400MHz Intel XScale processor and backed by 64MB of memory. It also includes built-in 802.11 and Bluetooth wireless networking, and an integrated fingerprint scanner as a security measure, important to businesses worried about company secrets being stored on easily stolen handhelds.

The 7.26 ounce h5450 uses the standard iPAQ form-factor so already available add-on Expansion Packs, or sleeves, can be used. It also includes a more powerful infrared port and software to allow it to be used as a universal remote.

Fossil

Meanwhile, Fossil is giving the “watch that’s also a PDA” thing another whirl. Earlier this year it released its WRIST PDA for both Palm OS and Pocket PC to less than critical acclaim, mainly because they did not actually run either operating system and could only be used in conjunction with a PDA, not as a full-fledged standalone PDA. However, this time Fossil is going for the whole enchilada. The new WRIST PDA for Palm OS, which Fossil is showing off a prototype of at COMDEX this week, actually runs the Palm OS…and it’s a whole lot thinner than its bulky predecessor.

Fossil WRIST PDA Fossil says the WRIST PDA, the world’s first Palm Powered watch, will cater to people who want to carry around one device rather than two. Fully compatible with the Palm OS platform, the WRIST PDA will run all Palm OS applications.

“We believe consumers want the functionality of a handheld with the style and portability of a wrist watch,” said Donald R. Brewer, vice president of technology for Fossil. “The Palm OS enables Fossil to provide customers with a fashionable wrist-worn device that is incredibly useful, yet lightweight, small, and powerful.”

According to Fossil, this device will run Palm OS 4.1 on a 33MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ processor. It has 2 MB of RAM and 2 MB of ROM. Pre-loaded applications including: Address Book, Date Book, Memo Pad, Calculator and To Do List.

The size of the screen is unclear at this point. Fossil says it will be 160 by 160 pixels but images of the prototype don’t seem to show a screen that large. The device might support a virtual 160 by 160 screen. The touch screen is backlit and can display 16 shades of gray. It includes a stylus integrated into the band for Graffiti input and a rocker switch.

It has an infrared port to support beaming between all Palm Powered devices. It can run for 4 days between recharges and comes with a charging cable.

Fossil will launch the WRIST PDA with Palm OS under two brands, FOSSIL and ABACUS, a new tech brand that targets the electronics distribution. Both versions of the new WRIST PDA are scheduled to be available in stores in the United States and internationally by mid-2003.

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