Review While recently we've seen big names like Sony and Toshiba leave the PDA market, Dell has become a major player in the Pocket PC arena with its Axim line, most likely due to its ability to offer a well specced yet attractively priced device, writes Benny Har-Even.
And here comes its latest line-up: the X50 series, successor to 2003's popular X30 offerings. There are three Axims in the X50 range: a basic one offering a 416Mhz processor, a QVGA screen, 64MB of ROM and Bluetooth; a 520MHz version with 128MB of ROM and integrated Wi-Fi; and at the top of the range - the one I'm looking at here - the X50v, which offers a 620MHz CPU and a 3.7in screen boasting a full VGA (480 x 640) resolution. Dell is also now offering a bundle with a GPS solution too. The 128MB of ROM is good but some might think the 64MB of RAM a bit stingy in a top-end unit. It's arguably so, but with dual expansion slots to play with the small memory complement isn't the end of the world.
Earlier Axims sported a rather angular and business-like look, but the new X50 design offers rounded edges and a curved base reminiscent of the original iPaq. The two-tone black fascia with silver piping round the edges looked very smart in the pictures though I have to admit to being slightly disappointed with the finish when I took it out the box.. The build quality is good though, with a solid feel to the body, and the stylus comfortable in the hand and well placed at the back on the right-hand side. The buttons are in the conventional Pocket PC arrangement. The power switch sits at the top centre and glows when the unit is being charged.
Down the left-hand side are a number of items. At the top is a lanyard hook and below this is a hold button that works in the same way as a key lock on your phone. It's an usual inclusion but a welcome one, as it ensures that the Axim won't switch on accidentally in your pocket, leaving you with a flat battery just when you need to use it. That said if you activate the hold switch when the device is on, you can't turn it off either and at first when this happened I forgot the lock was enabled leading me to fear that the device had locked up.
The next button down is the Wireless button, which activates the integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Getting connected with my router at home was straightforward. The device requested my WPA Wi-Fi security password and I was away. Setting up a Bluetooth connection with a Sony Ericsson V800 3G mobile phone proved a little more troublesome, but once I'd found the correct dialling scripts online it worked well. Transferring pictures from a T630 handset proved more straightforward. A consumer IR socket is also present, so with suitable software you can use the Axim as a universal remote control.