Review This may be a somewhat negative way to start a review of a good product, but it seems to me that PDAs are a dying breed. It can't be a good sign that Toshiba has stopped selling its Pocket PCs in the US, while Sony has pulled its Clié everywhere but Japan. It seems that the flexibility of the PDA hasn't served it as well as the PC. Though it can act as an may things - an organiser, a GPS solution, a music player and even a universal remote - consumers seem to prefer to buy dedicated solutions such as a Tom Tom Go or an iPod, writes Benny Har-Even.
If you're a technology fan the decline of the PDA is a depressing thought. That said, after several years of almost buying one, I haven't actually got round to it. If, however, you are thinking of getting one, this Dell Axim X30 could be just what you're looking for. If it looks remarkably familiar it's because the X30 is physically identical to the X3i we looked at here. The design is smart and business-like, and has a rather angular look to it but at least it won't slip too easily out of the hand as was the case with the original iPaqs.
To recap the basics, the X30 sports 64MB of RAM, 64MB of ROM and features built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A switch on the right hand side enables Wireless to be quickly toggled on and off. However, it will only activate or deactivate both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at the same time, which is frustrating if you're only using one and want to minimise power drain. We'd love a utility to customise the button so it worked with one or the other. The switch on the left-hand side activates the notes application, which can be created in textual or audio formats. Infra-red is also present, in both IrDA for data and Consumer IR version to enable the PDA to be used to control consumer electronics devices from a distance. However, unlike HP, Dell doesn't ship the X30 with any universal remote software, such as Nevo, no doubt to keep costs down.
The X30 also has an SD IO card slot, so with SD cards now available at up to 2GB you can begin to think about storing large files such as movies and not just audio on your PDA.
The key change made to the X30 over the X3i is that the processor has been upgraded from a 400MHz Intel PXA263, to the PXA270 running at 624MHz. It really is amazing to think that such a small device can pack this much power, and will be gratefully eaten up by games and movies. As an aside I found that I had to manually ensure that the processor was set to maximum speed as on the Auto movies would not play back smoothly due to the clock speed remaining at a power-saving 208MHz.