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COMDEX: HP steals Dell's PDA thunder

Latest iPaq outshines Axim for style, and the price isn't bad either

The publicity and anticipation that Dell built up around its entry into the PDA business was firmly dented by HP's suspiciously strategic announcement of the iPaq h1910.

The h1910 even managed to nestle its way into Bill Gates' pocket, alongside Dell's Axim, during his opening keynote in which he hailed the new generation of affordable (read reasonably priced) Pocket PCs.

While HP can't match the price of Dell's entry-level $199 (£126) model, at the higher end it comes in on the nose at $299 (£190) for the souped-up model and, unlike with the Dell, you don't have to mess around with 'mail-in rebates' to bring it in at this price.

But when it comes to spec, the HP does lag a little — its processor is only a 200MHz XScale unit and, while it bundles 64MB or RAM, only 46MB is available to the user. However, the h1910 has one thing the Axim can only dream of — style. Oodles of it.

Measuring a tiny 70x113x13mm and decked out in sleek silver, it's a stylish sports car compared to Dell's dependable station wagon.

It's also noticeably furnished in HP livery without a single red Q insight, making you wonder how much of a mutual merger this whole HP/Compaq thing was. In fact, in a separate release covering HP's new global brand advertising campaign, Compaq is mentioned the sum total of once — and even that's just in passing.

IPaqs, despite their innovation and design, have always been expensive. Now with the entry-level h1910, everyone can join the club. But if you do, just remember who came up with the original design.

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