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Dell's Axim X51v series left in a lull

For the past few years, more and more customers have been moving away from traditional PDAs to Smartphones that can do it all. Dell saw its Q1 '06 shipments of PDAs drop by nearly 34% while HP saw a 30% decrease. The overall market for PDAs has been on the decline as far back as Q2 of 2005 and shrank by 19% in Q1 '06.

DigiTimes reports that Dell has stopped its PDA development altogether and has diverted the funding to its notebook division. According to reports, Dell turned off the faucet in 2005. Dell’s last all-new model was introduced in 2004 in the form of the Windows Mobile 2003 based Axim X50 series. The company then released a minor update in the form of the Axim X51 series which basically added the Windows Mobile 2005 operating system. From DigiTimes:

According to the sources, Dell's TDC switched all PDA-related R&D resources to the notebook segment in the middle of 2005, following the company's plan of reducing the number of its R&D staff at its handheld device division at the end of 2004. Dell has not announced new PDAs for almost a year and PDA products that it currently offers are old models that were introduced in 2004, indicated the sources. In addition, the PC vendor has not shown any moves in the PDA phone and GPS-enable PDA segments, the sources noted.

While it's not surprising that Dell has seen a steady decline in the sale of PDAs, it's even more surprising that Dell hasn't taken the opportunity to create a Smartphone using the Windows Mobile 5.0 based like the Motorola Q or Palm Treo 700w.

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Smart Phones that do it all?
By sintaxera on 8/2/2006 1:28:58 PM , Rating: 3
Then why the heck are I-pods so popular? I mean, why doesn't someone get the idea of making a really great MP3 player that plays video and OMG! has a touch screen, games, and PDA functions.

Instead of trying to make a new I-Pod, why not just re-imagine the PDA as the pocket player of choice?

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By michael2k on 8/2/2006 2:06:47 PM , Rating: 2
Apple already re-imagined the PDA as the pocket player of choice!

The specs for an iPod put most similar PDAs to shame... except that it lacks a user input interface.

You ask why iPods are so popular? Because in the computer world, the interface IS the device. The iPod is a great MP3 player that plays video, games, and has PDA functions; 60GB HDD, 64mb ram, high color display, simple touch interface (this is severely underestimated), and good battery life.

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By TomZ on 8/2/06, Rating: 0
By psychobriggsy on 8/2/2006 8:14:40 PM , Rating: 2
Current iPods use ARM 7 processors actually. Two of them in fact exist within the PortalPlayer chip that powers the iPod. They only run at 75-90MHz (sources differ) however, then again that has barely improved since the first iPod. The video iPod adds in a Broadcom DSP for the video decoding. AFAIK music decoding is done on one of the ARM cores in the iPod, the other one takes care of everything else. Oddly enough Apple don't use the built-in display controller, but use an external one.

You could build a PDA around the chipset, but you'd want a different display and input mechanism. It'd run slowly too, due to the low clock speed. PalmOS would probably run okay on it though.

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By michael2k on 8/2/2006 10:01:58 PM , Rating: 2
I own Apple stock. Their continued success translates to my continued wealth :)

You are right, that the two device classes are specialized in different ways, but there is enough overlap that iPods also eat into the PDA class:

1) Media presentation and playback, such as videos, music, text, and photos
2) PC synchronization, with music, video, notes, photos, contacts, calendars, and basic HDD storage

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By TomZ on 8/3/2006 8:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I agree, but the same could also be said for smart cellphones, UMPCs, and laptops, not to mention MP3 players from other vendors (you don't think that iPod is singularly unique in that field, do you?).

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By creathir on 8/2/2006 3:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not really sure you could even BEGIN to compare a PDA to an iPod...
iPods are MP3 players that can do a few side tricks... that is their purpose. The reason they took off was the launch of iTunes... it has NOTHING to do with these bonus features. PDAs are getting slaughtered not due to their feature set, but because of Smartphones...
I'm not talking about the Rzor whatever they call it, but Treos, Blackberries and Windows Mobile based smart phones. This is because of the integrated cellular radio. In the business world (lets face it, only people that had a legitimate business use could afford a PDA/smart phone) things are changing FAST. People want their emails wherever they are... they want Internet access wherever they are... they want to be able to quickly IM their co-worker while they step out for a coffee. PDAs attempted to move into having cellular coverage, but the add-in cards really never took off, and if you integrate a cellular radio for data communication, why not just add voice and make it their cell phone? People hate carrying around TONS of devices, so when you have a cell phone, pda, iPod, and maybe even a basic cheapo digital camera, why not combine them all into a single device?

This is what killed the PDA, not the iPod. And as stated, to compare an iPod to a PDA is ludicrous (and no, not the same one that you might be listening to on that iPod of yours)

- Creathir

By Burning Bridges on 8/2/2006 3:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
well, my Axim X3 has crashed twice today, presumably from some form of a memory leak, was expensive, has bugger all space for mp3s and struggles to play videos at any sort of acceptable framerate.

I don't know about other people's experiences, but a pda with a GUI that was simple, didn't ever crash, and a 30Gb HDD would be a seriously great thing. And it would need battery life that allowed for more than running from one powerpoint to the next, of course...

Yes this IS a rant because mine has crashed twice today!

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By MobileZone on 8/3/2006 5:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
Wait a minute my friend, what are you tryig to say, that an ipod put high end pdas to shame? It clearly seems that you're another ipod/apple blind-maniac and that you've never got one real pda/smartphone in your hands:

So, in your opinion, ipod-based games also beats PSP? Sure.

Can you download music and develop interactive apps with your whity pod? Sure you do.

Just let me know and I'll buy one for me imediately.

By Burning Bridges on 8/3/2006 4:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
Get a GP2X

'Nuff said :-)

RE: Smart Phones that do it all?
By Johnmcl7 on 8/3/2006 3:24:27 AM , Rating: 2
Have you seen the new Sonyericcson W950? It fits your description very closely, it uses a Symbian operating system the same as the P9X series with a touchscreen interface tailored for music playback and four gig internal memory.


I Love my Axim
By Netscorer on 8/2/2006 4:51:46 PM , Rating: 2
It pulls so many duties that no laptop or Ipod can possibly do
- GPS for the car and hiking
- Universal Remote for Home
- Audio/Video player for the road
- Mail & Meetings assistant for the office
- Internet access right out of the pocket anywhere there is public Wi-Fi (hotels, cafes, parks)
- Photoframe or Clock for the desktop
- Occasional gaming when too bored

RE: I Love my Axim
By Oscarine on 8/2/2006 6:22:38 PM , Rating: 3
a Laptop can do all of those things except the right out of the pocket part, think right out of the bag..

GPS, yep I have a Nokia LD-1W which interacts with my laptop for Nav.

Universal Remote, well I have infrared, I suppose I could get a USB boosted infrared and make it even longer range...heh.

Audio/Video for the road, well yeah laptop can do it in fact, when its plugged into either my 700w or Moto Q Via USB tether and I'm in an EVDO area, not only can I use whats on the hard drive, I can stream Pandora or Rhapsody in real time over a 3.5" jack and into my car's stereo.

Mail & what not, obv the laptop can handle it with a internet connection (provided by the phones or hotspots).

Access (See Above)

Gaming - I can handle upto about Halflife 2 level of gaming.

So saying it can't possibly do it is a bit wrong :P, glad your happy with your PDA though.

RE: I Love my Axim
By Netscorer on 8/2/2006 10:30:28 PM , Rating: 1

I would love to see you (or anyone else for that matter) hiking the Apalachian trail with their trusty notebook for a map.
I once met a guy (limo driver taking me back from the airport) using thinkpad as car GPS. This looked silly at best before he tried to navigate the program with a touchpad while driving. I got actually scared we would crash.

Seriously though, even forgetting for a second that PDA can do lots of things (and pretty well mind you) besides GPS, I found that for the same cost ($400 including GPS antenna) as Garmin or TomTom devices it is actually a much better GPS unit. Faster routing, bigger screen, software selection freedom, additional maps, ability to load custom POIs (Points of Interest), etc.
And try taking your Garmin on a hiking trail. Oops, it won't work. You need to buy a different device, while my Axim just loads hiking maps and goes along merrily.
And while on the trail I can listen to any music or watch any downloaded movie in any codec not having to convert it to some stupid format (hello Ipod).

As for lacking a hard drive, I bought an 8Gb memory card and it is more then enough for my needs.

The only two things Axim really lacks is
- USB host (beyond me why it is not included)
- ability to connect to the cellular network. And the second reason is why, ultimately, PDAs as we know them now will die and be replaced with smart phones.

RE: I Love my Axim
By Johnmcl7 on 8/3/2006 3:22:33 AM , Rating: 2
My phone does all that (HTC Wizard), it's pretty much the reason my dedicated PDA, a Dell X50V sits gathering dust - why take two devices when one device can do both? For that reason, I'm not surprised Dell are stopping their PDAs.


RE: I Love my Axim
By yubastard on 8/3/2006 12:26:39 PM , Rating: 1
I believe you ARE kinda stupid, as you HTC Wizard IS a PDA, only with an added celluar radio function... not much different from my Dell Axim x51v. It has Win Mobile 2005...

I love my PDA because it reminds me what to do, so I don't have to waste brain energy in thinking 'bout appointments and tasks, really good for college, if you ask me...

I only wish they would do a cell-phone axim...

It's about UMPC - not PDA's
By DallasTexas on 8/2/2006 1:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surpised the article does not make reference to the obvious - UMPC is what Microsoft and Intel are after. I would imagine DEll is the OEM for this.
The UMPC provides far more synergy with Dell's platform being X86 based than with an ARM/Xscale platform.

RE: It's about UMPC - not PDA's
By robber98 on 8/2/2006 1:43:39 PM , Rating: 2
UMPC? It's a joke... It's too big to fit into pocket. The battery life and processing power are lame. The price.... Give me a break...

RE: It's about UMPC - not PDA's
By TomZ on 8/2/06, Rating: 0
RE: It's about UMPC - not PDA's
By DallasTexas on 8/2/2006 3:53:55 PM , Rating: 2
"..Are you saying that UMPC has more in common with Dell's existing laptop platform? .."

Yes. Dell relies much on Microsoft and INtel for platform development and product awareness. The thought is UMPC allows for that continuity to exist and that the UMPC is a natural extention of the laptop category.

"..I guess the obvious benefit for ARM/XScale is that they generally have less power consumption than X86, but can still run Windows CE..."

Yes, that is true today, but ARM/Xscale have nowhere near the software capabilities of the X86 platform running full blown Windows. It's getting better, but unlikely it will match it. The odds are very good that Moores Law will solve the power difficiencies X86 has today versus ARM.

I have seen/used a UMPC and bullish on it's future. I have seen roadmaps that get to single chip (SOC) in 2008 with a retail price of $399 with reasonable profit margins for the value chain. For 2007 (Dad's and Grads season.. assume $499 or.

The key success factor, I think, is the human interface. Since the UMPC is sort of a "tweener" device that sits between a laptop and a smartphone, it is unclear what human interface would work here. However, the value proposition of having full blown windows/internet in your backpack, small and light, for under $500 seems very compelling to at least a large number of buyers. It will never replace the cellphone, but it's really not intended to. It will likely eat into the smartphone on one end and the laptop on the other. WHo knows?

RE: It's about UMPC - not PDA's
By andrep74 on 8/2/2006 4:08:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but will it have a crank?

RE: It's about UMPC - not PDA's
By TomZ on 8/2/06, Rating: 0
I can't say I'm sad...
By jskirwin on 8/2/2006 4:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
I carried a PDA for about a year awhile back - a Sony Clie. After awhile I found I left the thing at home and eventually didn't miss it. It sold on the bay last year.

I was using it as an electronic rolodex, but found it easier to keep that info online. One less gadget to carry around as long as I had a connection.

Buh-bye PDA.

RE: I can't say I'm sad...
By MobileZone on 8/4/2006 2:01:33 AM , Rating: 2
Clie were cool until God invented Wi-Fi. After That, Clies and all sort of connection-less devices turned into paper weight.

By sprockkets on 8/3/2006 2:52:47 PM , Rating: 1
Because my cell phone never has to be soft reset to turn it on.

Because my cell phone never has to be soft reset to get it to work.

Because my cell phone never has to be hard reset to factory default to get it to ring.

Because my cell phone never has to be hard reset to restore reminders.

Because my cell phone never has problems with voice conversations.

Because my cell phone allows me to drop a second incoming call without dropping both.

Got a Treo 700w? You will experience all of these issues. It is just a matter of time.

By MobileZone on 8/4/2006 2:09:08 AM , Rating: 2
Lemme ask just one question: why did you get a Treo instead of a real Smartphone(PocketPC)?

Besides the ugliness of the Treos, they're only GPRS-Edge/EVDO, while PPCs are UMTS, WIFI, Edge, WCDMA, GPRS and also make good coffee for you.

Treos are ugly bricks from hell. I can't imagine one in my pocket without my pants being forced to fall down.

By sprockkets on 8/5/2006 12:19:28 PM , Rating: 1
You are a dumb ass. The Treo 700w is a PDA running the latest Windows Mobile 5 OS from Microsoft, with added phone functions. The smartphone version is just that without a touchscreen interface.

Smartphones are nowhere near as powerful as the full blown pda version of WM5. And no, I do not own one, because they suck.

That and EVDO is the fastest WLAN you can use at this point, and it can also use WiFi with an add on card. And you think the PPCs are any smaller.

Good riddance to the PDA...
By Fox5 on 8/2/2006 4:59:47 PM , Rating: 2
And welcome the mini-PC. Microsoft needs to release a stripped down version of XP (or Vista) and then have it combined with a small LCD screen, wireless USB, a low speed x86 processor (300 to 600mhz), and a large flash drive or small hard drive. Oh, and if it's running Vista, throw in a PowerVR SGX. If they could get the form factor/size right, that would be infinitely more useful than a PDA, which is barely a platform of its own due to the stupid requirement of having a PC to utilize all of its features and having severely cut down software compared to the PC counterparts.

By bigpow on 8/2/2006 10:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
I'm generally classified as a Mac hater simply because I don't believe in paying a lot of money for cool looks but no show products. I'm also not stupid enough that I have to use Mac OS instead of WinXP.

But even I bought a Nano 4Gb. I love it.
It does its job best (small MP3 player).
I didn't buy the regular 30Gb Ipod since I have no need for it, and even if I do, I'd probably buy something cheaper.

But to think that Ipod will replace PDA, is totally absurd.

Smartphones & cheaper notebooks are the ones killing PDA.
IMO, PDA will have to be a lot better or a lot cheaper to survive. When smartphones can run Windows Mobile 5 and notebooks can be had for $400, current generation PDA will loose.

As long as Dell keeps selling Axim x51v for $300ish, people will buy. It's in the right segment of the market (better features than smartphones, but cheaper yet smaller than notebooks)

Most PDA users (medical students, health industry workers, etc.) will miss Axim 5x since it's the most affordable & feature rich PDA in the market. After Dell is out, the market pretty much belongs to HP?

Still a place for PocketPCs
By MMilitia on 8/3/2006 5:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
Somehow I can't really see phones taking over from PDAs just yet. I have both a modern phone ( Moto' V3i) and a PocketPC (XDA2) and find they both have their good and bad points. Admittedly the V3i is far from a smart phone but I really don't want to have to carry a big ugly Blackberry or whatever around with me all the time.
Besides, I can't play SimCity2000 on my phone so it already loses major points.

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