Talk of a Christmas launch for a personal digital assistant (PDA) from made-to-order computer manufacturer Dell Computer continues to mount. Taiwan's Digitimes says contract manufacturer Wistron has secured a deal for 1.1 million units, expected to retail for US$299 each later this year. Judy Low, Dell Asia-Pacific's director of corporate communications, said the company would not comment on speculation and had yet to make an announcement on a PDA product. She added: 'We'd like to finalise our details and make an announcement then.' Earlier this month, a research note by an analyst at ARS said Dell was looking at introducing hand-helds with telecommunications capabilities in order to compete with the successful iPAQ line from Hewlett Packard-Compaq Computer. The Digitimes report said margins would be slim for Wistron, a contract manufacturer formerly part of the Acer group, which suggests that the device to be introduced this year may not have built-in communications. The iPAQ has a sleeve that supports added capabilities, while other manufacturers are starting to build in wireless networking in the form of Bluetooth, 802.11 or general packet radio service (GPRS) receivers. For Dell, this foray into the hand-held market would be a first. The company has achieved a dominant position by building personal computers to order for corporate and individual clients. More recently, Dell introduced servers, networking equipment and digital projectors. Some analysts see Dell's PDA market entry as an attempt to gain more business from corporate customers, who are beginning to order hand-held computers in bulk for their employees. The Dell PDA is expected to run on a Windows operating system - likely to be Pocket PC - similar to the iPAQ's. Pocket PC hand-helds generally require more processing power and memory but have made headway in the corporate space, where users want access to portable versions of their Office desktop software. A Gartner study said one quarter of all PDAs bought last year were reimbursed or purchased by companies, with the remainder bought by individuals. Gartner expects 15.5 million PDAs to be sold this year, compared with 13 million sold last year. In the second quarter this year, the top four PDA manufacturers in terms of shipments were Palm, HP-Compaq, Handspring and Beijing Hi-Tech Wealth Group, according to research firm International Data Corp. Two other mainland manufacturers, Minren and Legend, made the top 10. The three Chinese manufacturers accounted for 9.6 per cent of the world's 2.6 million second-quarter shipments.