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Dell Axim X5 300MHz Review

Highs

  • Plenty of features
  • low price

Rating

Our Score 7
User Score 10

Lows

  • Bulky design
The Dell Axim X5 offers users great expandability and functionality options without a wallet-damaging price tag.

Summary

The Dell Axim X5 offers users great expandability and functionality options without a wallet-damaging price tag. The Axim X5 has done more than what we had expected it to do for us, and we still have yet to take it to its fullest potential. Although this statement has been well overused, the Axim X5 really does offer a great “bang for the buck”. If you are looking for a device that offers expansion, great battery life, and plenty of features, the Axim X5 could be right for you.

Introduction

Some analysts have criticized Dell for bringing a PDA to market late but we have to give Dell props for waiting till the market matured before bringing their offering to the table. What Dell offers is a no frill, feature packed unit at a price that consumer will want.

Features

The Dell Axim X5 gave us hope that a Pocket PC device could offer a wide array of functionality and expandability while setting a low price tag; and the X5 did not disappoint. Dell currently offers two forms of the Axim X5. The first model is their entry-level model with a 300 MHz Intel X-Scale processor, 32 MB of RAM and 3 2MB of ROM. The second model is their advanced Axim X5, which is equipped with a 400 MHz Intel X-Scale processor, 64 MB of RAM and 48MB of ROM. With the Axim line Dells first offering in the handheld market, we were excited to see what the entry-level model had to offer. Inside of the Axim X5 package there is a removable 1440 mAh Lithium Ion battery, the USB cable, AC Adapter and included software.

Design and Style

The Axim X5 is bulkier than most PDA’s currently on the market and offers a more mundane design. Starting at the top, you have a Compact Flash slot, which comes with a plastic insert sleeve to keep the dust out. Located above the Compact Flash port is the IrDA communication port and below Compact Flash (CF) slot is the headphone jack.

On the left and right sides of the unit you will find rubber grips running from the top of the unit down the bottom. On the right side of the Axim, going from top to bottom, there is the Secure Digital (SD) slot, which comes with a plastic insert, the jog-dial, the record button, and the reset button. Other than having a rubber grip on the right side, you also have the stylus silo.

The front of the unit is probably the most exciting, since that is where most of the action will take place. Located at the top of the unit, directly in the center, is the power button. To the left of the power button is the microphone. Right underneath is the screen, which you cannot miss. And underneath of the screen you will find your D-pad in the center, with two function buttons on both sides of the D-pad. At the bottom right of the unit is the speaker.

On the back of the unit, you will find two rubber feet at the top. Right underneath of the left rubber foot is the backup battery compartment, with the removable battery compartment found below that. And on the bottom of the unit, you will find the power connector, and the cradle/cable port.

Use and Testing

The main flaw that we have found with this setup is the possibility of certain Compact Flash cards hindering the use of the headphone jack; as is the case with some GPS units. So when purchasing your accessories, take that into consideration. Another small gripe that we have is with the D-pad. Although D Pad is functional, we believe it could use some improvements. It feels somewhat “loose” and a little “mushy”. To receive proper feedback, you have to actually push further down than you would expect; there also seems to be a small difference in the feedback when pushing down on the right side of the pad. This small problem should not hinder your decision making process on purchasing this device. One last thing that we would like to point out is that there are no indentations on the front access buttons. Users who are accustomed to accessing these buttons with the tip of a stylus will find it a bit harder since there are no indentations. This is just a personal preference aspect that really does not affect the functionality of the device.

Two of the biggest aspects of the Axim X5 that actually drew us towards this device were its CF and SD expansion capabilities; the combination of the two allow for additional storage as well as a wide array of add-ons. Another key aspect of the Axim X5 is its main selling point; the price. When higher levels of functionality come to mind, a higher price point is usually associated with that as well. Dell has done an extraordinary job in including great functionality into the X5 with a sweet retail price of $299

Another aspect of the Axim X5 that surprised us delightfully was the life of the battery. On average, we were able to get a little more than 6 hours of battery life when playing MP3’s, and about 3 hours when connected wirelessly; neither times did the battery go completely dead although it showed signs of fatigue. You can also exchange batteries or purchase Dell’s larger capacity 3400mAh battery which more than doubles the power.

As mentioned earlier, the Axim X5 comes equipped with rubber feet on the back of the unit and rubber grips running along the sides. Both of these features have been very helpful in everyday use. The rubber feet stop the unit from sliding across all of my desks, and the rubber grips help the user hold the unit securely while using the unit or transporting it by hand.

Although the Axim X5 is not one of the smaller and lighter designed Pocket PC devices on the market, the size of the Axim X5 was not really a concern although very apparent when compared to other Pocket PC devices. We feel that the added size and weight, is well worth the benefit of the having both CF and SD expansion options in a device. We take great pride in using devices that perform well while at the same time having a sleek and unique look. The Axim X5 is a device that gives off a rugged and solid feeling, while at the same time giving off vibes of sexiness and sophistication; not to mention that the cradle just adds to the sexiness!

In our tests, the 300 MHz Dell Axim X5 performed just about as good as the higher-end 400 MHz model, although there was some stutters while playing some fast paced movies. The 65K color 16-bit display was very bright and easy to see in most lighting conditions. On same PDA’s you can see the light shining from a either the top or the bottom of the screen, with the X5 the brightness was uniform in all areas.

The included Microsoft Syncing software worked without a hitch as expected and data transfer was fast and simple. As with most Pocket PC devices, there is a plethora of trial software included with the package and we found them to be more annoying than useful. One great thing about the Syncing software is that you can upgrade the Axim’s operating system while connected to your desktop computer. This saves you time and money by using your computers internet connection versus your wireless providers.

Conclusion

The Dell Axim X5 offers users great expandability and functionality options without a wallet-damaging price tag. The Axim X5 has done more than what we had expected it to do for us, and we still have yet to take it to its fullest potential. Although this statement has been well overused, the Axim X5 really does offer a great “bang for the buck”. If you are looking for a device that offers expansion, great battery life, and plenty of features, the Axim X5 could be right for you.

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