Personal Digital Assistants are great mobile must-haves but the high price can be off-putting to people wanting to join the mobile revolution. Dell is a newcomer to the market, but it’s clearly thought out its strategy — combining power and expendability, and offering it at least $100 less than the competition. We looked at the $779 high-performance Dell Axim X5, with a 400MHz Intel XScale processor, 64MB of RAM, 48MB of flash ROM, and a 3.5in 320x240 display. A lower-specified model is available for $589 and uses a 300MHz processor, 48MB of RAM and 32MB of ROM.
The Axim isn’t likely to win a beauty contest. It’s chunky compared to the likes of HP’s iPAQ and Sony’s Clié series, although rubberised sidegrips mean it won’t slip from your fingers. The X5 houses both CompactFlash Type II and Secure Digital slots, plus down the side you’ll find rubber-clad record and reset buttons. The basic jog dial features a one-handed scroll and select operation, although it was temperamental in use.
On the Axim’s front is a five-way controller with four quick-access buttons for the likes of the calendar and notes. A built-in speaker system won’t impress audiophiles, but its stylish metallic casing means you won’t have to hide it away.
Where the Axim shines is in battery life: Dell claims a whopping maximum of 10 hours. Optimistic, maybe, but we did get seven hours continuous use, beating most other Pocket PC-based handhelds handsomely. The Advanced model comes with a cradle for syncing that includes a slot for a spare battery (purchased separately), so you can have two batteries charging at once. The entry-level model syncs using a USB cable like the lower-priced Palms such as the Zire.
In brief: Dell Axim X5
The Axim X5 offers all the features of high-end handhelds, including an XScale processor and Pocket PC 2002 as standard. Its astounding battery life, features such as integrated SD and CF slots, and bargain-basement price make this one of the best PDA debuts ever.
Phone: 13 3355