Toshiba spruces up Pocket PCs

The handheld maker's workshop is busy readying its Pocket PC lineup for the holidays. Features include color screens, faster processors and more memory.

Toshiba is sprucing up its Pocket PC lineup for the holidays.

The company on Tuesday launched the new Pocket PC e335, which features a faster processor and more memory than its earlier model, the Pocket PC e310. The new model also is less expensive than Toshiba's e740 model, which incorporates wireless.

Toshiba fitted the new Pocket PC e335 with a 3.5-inch color screen, along with a 300MHz PXA250 XScale processor from Intel, and 64MB of memory. The PDA will sell for $399 before a $50 rebate. Meanwhile, a new e330 model, aimed at the business market, will be configured the same, but offer a different software package. It will sell for $349, Toshiba said.

Toshiba, still a newcomer in the PDA space, has seen solid growth, enough to claim the seventh spot in worldwide market share during the second quarter of this year, according to IDC. Toshiba entered the Pocket PC market last November.

Pocket PC-based PDAs have increased their share of the worldwide market of late. The handhelds accounted for 28 percent of unit sales in the second quarter, according to Gartner.

But, as Pocket PC sales have grown, so has competition for customers. Toshiba will have to elbow a few competitors out of the way to continue its successes, as new companies have entered the Pocket PC market.

Display maker ViewSonic, for example, recently jumped in with its first Pocket PC offering. Dubbed the V35, it will sport a 300MHz XScale chip and sell for $299, starting on Nov. 1.

Meanwhile, Dell Computer is expected to launch its own Pocket PC model later in November. The company is expected to offer two models, including one that includes a 300MHz XScale chip for a starting price of $199, and another that includes a 400MHz XScale for $299.

At those prices, Dell would undercut all of the competitors in the market, including Toshiba, by a margin of at least $100.

Although the competition might be painful for some, analysts believe it will benefit the market as a whole, driving prices lower and increasing unit sales.

A report by InStat/MDR, released on Tuesday, forecasts a 17.6 percent annual growth rate for the PDA market between 2001 and 2006.