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Dell ups handheld ante with price cut

The computer maker offers a 10 percent discount on its Axim X5 handheld to previous Dell customers. What will competitors say to that?

Soon after releasing its first-ever handheld, Dell Computer, the direct PC seller, is already knocking down the price of its new device.

The Austin, Texas-based company on Tuesday sent an e-mail to people who have recently bought Dell products, asking them to try the new Axim X5 handheld, which uses Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 operating system.

The e-mail offers a 10 percent discount in addition to a $50 mail-in rebate. When all the wheeling and dealing is over, consumers who have the e-mail offer will pay $175 for the entry-level device with a 300MHz Intel XScale processor, or $265 for the advanced model with a 400MHz Intel XScale processor.

The offer comes just one day after the company officially launched the Axim handheld. The offer lasts until Monday, Nov. 25.

The price cut and rebate slash the price of the Axim, a member of a class of Pocket PC-based handhelds that have typically sold for around $500. Other companies that offer Pocket PC devices have also started to lower prices, including Hewlett-Packard and ViewSonic. So far, however, newcomer Dell has been the most aggressive.

Dell has no intention of ending the $50 mail-in rebate, but would consider it "to modulate demand," a Dell representative said.

The company sold 300 Axim handhelds on Monday from a single kiosk on the Comdex Fall 2002 trade-show floor in Las Vegas, the representative said.