Axims easy on the pocket

Although not the most stylish PDA, Dell's Axims provide bargain-priced, cutting-edge PDA technology. The new Axim X30 adds Intel's latest mobile chip, Bluetooth, and better security to the already impressive feature list of the Axim X3 - all at a slightly lower launch price of $349.

We tried out a shipping Axim X30 with a 624MHz PXA270 processor (code name Bulverde), Intel's latest CPU for personal digital assistants. Bulverde processors aren't merely faster than the XScale CPUs employed in previous Axim models; they have the PDA equivalent of Intel notebook CPUs' SpeedStep technology, which prolongs battery life by adjusting power requirements depending on the applications in use. The X30's 240x320 display remains one of the best available. The silver recharging cradle's second slot for accommodating a second removable, rechargeable battery is a smart and useful extra.

The X30 runs Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition; this latest version of the OS for handhelds permits landscape-mode display orientation, lets Internet Explorer force Web pages into a single column, and adds support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). Dell also markets a $279 version of the X30, offering all the same trimmings but a slower 312MHz Bulverde processor. A third alternative is a $199 version with the slower chip, no integrated Wi-Fi, and 32MB each of flash ROM and SDRAM (compared with 64MB each in the more expensive models). The two lower-cost X30 versions come with a syncing cable instead of a recharging cradle.

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