The Associated Press
updated 10/15/2003 7:33:29 AM ET 2003-10-15T11:33:29

No. 1 personal computer maker Dell Inc. unveiled its latest line of Axim handheld computers on Wednesday. The line includes thinner, lighter models. The company hopes to woo businesses users with a device boasting built-in wireless ability to connect to the Internet.

THE ROUND ROCK, TEXAS, company introduced the Axim X3 line of personal digital assistants, or PDAs, which the company said is 28 percent lighter than its predecessor, and 17 percent thinner.

Dell first jumped into the handheld market one year ago with Axim X5, aimed at the market for mobile corporate users who need to keep contacts and appointments at close reach. Powered by Microsoft Corp.’s Pocket PC software, the machines carry some of the same applications found on desktop PCs.

Driven by Dell’s strong position as a direct retailer and its relationship with corporate clients, Axim sales have been significant, Dell has said, but still trail overall demand for handhelds made by market leader Palm Inc.

Research firm IDC has projected that worldwide handheld industry shipments will in 2003 decline for the second year in a row, shrinking by 8.4 percent to about 11.35 million units. Limited growth is expected to return in 2004, IDC said.

Dell said the new models will come in three versions, including the Axim X3i with integrated Wi-Fi wireless networking capability, at $379. Two other designs, both without wireless abilities, will sell at $229 and $329.

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