Dell Inc. is expected to introduce on Tuesday its latest attempt at breaking Apple Computer Inc.’s stranglehold on the portable music player market, along with some new personal digital assistants and photo printers.
The new Dell DJ Ditty is a US$99 music player that comes with 512MB of storage. It will go up against the iPod Shuffle, which carries all the cachet of the runaway success of the iPod product lineup.
Unlike the iPod Shuffle, the DJ Ditty comes with a display, one of the major complaints lodged about the iPod Shuffle. It also plays songs in Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Media Audio format, which doesn’t take up as much space as Apple’s encoding format, said Gretchen Miller, director of mobile product marketing at Dell. Apple’s iPod Shuffle Web page says the Shuffle’s 512MB of flash memory is good for storing up to 120 songs, but Dell said the DJ Ditty’s 512MB of storage can hold up to 220 songs.
However, it remains to be seen whether the appearance of the DJ Ditty has enough of a “cool” factor to out-do Apple in the fashion-conscious world of the portable music player. Early reviews of the DJ music player were not kind on this score, but Dell has spent a lot of time working on the industrial design of the updated product, Miller said. It weighs 1.29 ounces (36.6 grams) and also comes with a 30-day subscription to Napster Inc.’s Napster To Go service.
Also on Tuesday, Dell will update its Axim line of PDAs with three new models running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile 5.0, Miller said. The new version of the operating system introduces support for what Miller called “persistent memory storage,” or the ability to protect data even if the battery fails on the device. The Axim 51 product family will be available in various configurations priced from $299 to $499 depending on the processor and memory amounts desired.
The high-end Axim 51v and the more powerful version of the Axim 51 will come with integrated 802.11b and Bluetooth chips, allowing users to connect to the Internet over a Wi-Fi connection or use Bluetooth-supported accessories like headsets, Miller said.
The Round Rock, Texas, company will also introduce two new photo printers on Tuesday. The Dell Photo All-In-One 924 costs $89 and can print color photos directly from a digital camera that supports the PictBridge standard. The 944 version can print pictures from media cards and has a 2.4-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen in order to preview photos. It costs $149.