Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Made-in-Malaysia PDA Phone

I read the press article in TheStar today, about a new Made-in-Malaysia PDA phone, the Dallab DX8i. Since it's a technology piece, I thought that I'd comment about it a bit. At first, I thought that it was cool to have a locally made PDA phone. I thought that this was to be an example of a successful Malaysian technology company that makes and sells useful products globally. Maybe our own version of Nokia.

The company that made it, Dallab, has probably got it right. This is a company that was incorporated in the US under the name of "Dallab Inc., USA". A quick check on the domain name lists it's Administrative address as located in Orlando, Florida. The only bits on the website that show a link to Malaysia are it's contact page (it lists a Malaysian address as it's HQ) and partners page (that has a SIRIM logo). According to the report, the phone was designed by engineers in the US, Singapore and Malaysia. The phone itself is manufactured in Sungai Petani, Kedah! This is a good idea, as it avoids a lot of the political problems in Malaysia while still able to stake claim to being a Malaysian company.

Then, I saw the price tag and my jaw dropped. It is priced at RM 1,888 (US$ 535), which puts it squarely in competition with the iPhone, Treo and other such devices. I began to think for a bit about how this Windows Mobile device was going to compete with the established players. There doesn't seem to be any advantage to it. In terms of aesthetic design, it certainly isn't going to beat the iPhone. In terms of brand recognition, it cannot compete with the likes of Palm. So, I decided to check the specs to see if there's anything interesting there.

Looking at the specs, nothing extraordinary jumped out at me except it's age. This is a new PDA phone that isn't all that new. It's using the Intel XScale processor, which Intel no longer owns after selling off the whole division last year. It uses the old Bluetooth 1.2 stack, while most new gadgets have moved on to 2.0 that came out in 2004. It's also using an older Windows Mobile 5.0 when the 6.0 has been out for 6 months. All these things tell me that this device had been under development for a considerable time and the engineers decided against updating it's components during the process.

So, personally, I don't think that there's much to jump about this PDA phone. However, it does qualify as a Made-in-Malaysia product. It isn't a bad phone, but there's just nothing very outstanding about it. I'm not sure how well it would do against the big names. Considering the amount of die-hard fans of both Apple and Palm, I don't see how this PDA phone stands apart.

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