Dell’s early Axims (the X5 series) set the PDA world abuzz because of their low cost, but they were large beasts. A hardware revamp came along for the next round of devices (the X3 series), so that low cost and neat design were coupled. For the third set of machines, the Axim X30 series, Dell has retained the hardware of the second set but ratcheted up the specifications.
There are three machines in the new series, all running Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2003 Second Edition. They are the first devices to run this update from Microsoft, whose key feature, for the average user, is support for landscape screen orientation. They are also the first machines to become available running Intel’s latest processor for PDAs, the PXA 270. This features enhanced multimedia support and power management.
The Axim X30 comes in three flavours. There is a very low cost version (£152 inc. VAT and delivery), which runs at 312MHz and has neither Bluetooth nor Wi-Fi. For £222 (inc. VAT and delivery) you can have both wireless options and the same processor. Or you could choose our review unit, whose processor runs at 624MHz and which has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in.
Truth to say, on test we didn’t notice the processor doing anything very marvellous and we still got the Pocket PC wait symbol from time to time. Nor did we note a great deal of battery life improvement. With the power manager set to ‘auto’, which limits the processor to 208MHz, rather than either ‘maximum performance’ or ‘power save’, we achieved four hours and 56 minutes of MP3 music playback, and the battery died at the same time music stopped. It’s good, but not ground-breaking.
We have always liked the way Dell implements wireless. The dedicated button on the right edge of the casing which starts and stops wireless, coupled with very good Wi-Fi setup controls and separate flashing lights for this and Bluetooth on the slightly protruding antenna, are all strong features. Surfing the Web via our Wi-Fi network and connecting to Bluetooth hardware were both unproblematic.
As for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, its star turn as far as immediate payback is concerned is probably the landscape display support. But then you can get this from various third party tools anyway.