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One particularly bad thing happened to me while I was in London for an interview last week: my cell phone and PDA were stolen. I'd gone out for a drink with an old friend and I left my jacket at a pub. By the time I got back, the jacket was there but the electronics weren't. Yes, it was dumb, but these things happen.

Insurance has covered the cell phone at minimal expense, although the replacement process proved complicated. More annoying is the PDA, a Dell Axim X3. I purchased this in Japan over the summer because I wanted a machine with a Japanese operating system. (Unlike PCs, PDAs have important parts of the operating system embedded on the chip, so I can't just buy a device and install the OS from the earlier X3.) When I called Dell last week to see about getting a replacement, they told me I'd have to buy one from the Japanese website.

Me: "Wait a second. I thought all the Dell PDAs were assembled in Texas?"

Dell Salesman (DS): "They are."

Me: "So I'd be ordering off a Japanese website, but shipping the device from Texas, then having to get a friend to mail it back?"

DS: "Yep. We don't sell them with a non-US OS."

I suspect that somewhere in this is the iron hand of Microsoft: after all, Dell shouldn't really care about what OS sits on its device, whereas MS might be worried about price maintenance across borders. But whatever the case, this is annoying.

Ah well. The X50 is supposed to be coming out soon, and this gives me an opportunity to revisit non-Dell options. Time for a trip to Bic Camera.com. Nonetheless, it's a very expensive lesson and an annoyance I didn't need right now.

Update: Looking at my packing order for the old X3 and some of the shipping materials, I'm not entirely sure that it was made in Texas. I thought all of them were assembled there, but maybe not. Certainly the salesman suggested so when I asked, but then that might have been a mistake.

Any information on this gratefully received.

Update II: PG of Half the Sins of Mankind pointed me to links like this which indicated that at least the X5 was manufactured in Taiwan. So maybe a Taiwan->Tokyo->New York hop makes a bit more sense.


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I believe Dell entered the PDA market on a strictly OEM basis. So it's almost certain that the thing is made in east asia somewhere. Indeed I seem to recall they managed to enter the market, licence a product in less time than it took the two of us to build and launch a website for a competing product... (Other readers please note, we blame the client) However it's quite possible that the things are made in Asia and shipped to Texas for assembly, which could be some version of putting the thing in a box, or adding batteries or something so you can say 'made in America' about it. So yes, you could then construct a plausible but not sensible reason for making it in Taiwan, shipping it to Texas for 'assembly' and then sending it to Japan where the OS is installed.

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