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August 26, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

In a bid to cash in on the buoyant handheld PC market, Royal Consumer Business Products, a division of Olivetti Office USA, has introduced a series of PDAs (personal digital assistants) that rival 3Com Corp’s Palm Pilot in appearance but are half the price. Dubbed a pen-based palm-sized organizer, the Bridgewater, New Jersey company said the first products in the range will come in two flavors. The daVinci, due to be released in October, costs $99. It will feature a 256-kilobyte memory, writing-recognition software, a docking station and PC synchronization software. The high-end daVinci Pro version, due in November, costs $149 and offers, according to Royal, the world’s most inexpensive internet email and send-fax capability. It includes 1Mb of memory, built-in email and fax software and a PCMCIA slot for added connectivity. A spokesperson for Royal said the lower-end daVinci model was designed to compete with 3Com’s PalmPilot Personal device whereas the daVinci Pro is being marketed directly against the PalmPilot Pro product, prices for which typically start around $250. Both organizers feature a proprietary script, called daVinci script, which users will have to learn, and a proprietary operating system, developed by Royal. But the company uses the same Motorola chip and same email software as rival 3Com. There is an on-screen keyboard and an optional plug-in folding palm-sized keyboard, which Royal claims is a first. Both models also offer a FlashNotes feature, which allows users to store hand-written text and graphics as images. The spokesperson added that Royal would introduce more products, above and below the two new models, some time in 1999. He said the aim was to make a PDA for less than $99. Up until now, Royal has made a name for itself in the low-end, sub $50 organizer/calculator market. Yesterday’s launch marks the company’s first entrance in the increasingly-competitive PDA market, dominated by giants such as Psion, Microsoft, Sharp and Nokia.

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