Dell preparing Axim X3 with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved for sale in the U.S. an Axim X3 personal digital assistant (PDA) from Dell Inc. with both a Bluetooth and an 802.11b chip, according to documents posted on the FCC Web site.

Adding a Bluetooth PDA to its lineup would fill a hole for Dell, which thus far has not released an Axim with that feature. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless networking technology that is used to connect mobile devices, such as PDAs and cell phones, or accessories such as headsets.

Dell's competitors in the PDA market, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Palm Inc., introduced several models with the technology built into their PDAs in 2003. Technically savvy users look for Bluetooth in a PDA, but general users have had less interest in the technology, which can be complicated to set up, said Alex Slawsby, an analyst with IDC in Framingham.

Dell had planned to include Bluetooth in one of the first X3 models unveiled in October, but decided to hold off and offer the more expensive version of the X3 with 802.11b wireless only, Slawsby said.

At the launch of the X3, Dell's second generation Axim, a Dell executive said that most of the demand for Bluetooth devices has come from Europe and the company would eventually offer a Bluetooth device.

Information about pricing or availability was not specified in the FCC documents, and a Dell spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Manufacturers are required to gain FCC approval of devices with wireless radios before putting them on sale in the U.S. Information about Dell's initial Axim X3 PDAs appeared on the FCC's Web site about two weeks before they were launched in October. The most recent Axim documents related to the model with Bluetooth were on the FCC's Web site in late December.

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