In the beginning, PDA’s were an easy and popular way to organize your life and remind yourself of important events and activities. Since they were first introduced, they have evolved into something more. They are now a platform for games, surfing the web and checking your emails. There is almost nothing, that you cannot do on a PDA.
- Equipped with Microsoft® Windows® Mobile 2003 Second Edition operating system and familiar applications like Word and Excel
- Powered by the NEW Intel® XScale™ Processors at 624MHz with WMMX
- Brilliant 3.5″ color TFT display for indoor and outdoor viewing
- Navigation button and scroll dial for easy access to information
- Packed with 64MB SDRAM and 64MB Intel StrataFlash® ROM
- Integrated 802.11b WiFi and Bluetooth wireless technologies
- Integrated Secure Digital / SDIO Now! / MMC card slot provides flexible expansion
- Removable Primary Battery with optional High Capacity Battery
- Built-in microphone and speaker for easy recording on the go
- Light and thin, sleek and stylish design
In The Box
If you order the Axim X30 without any other options you will get basically the same items with whatever package you choose. There are only two differences in the packages. The first difference is the Axim itself. Depending on what you order you will get either a 312 MHz or 624 MHz. You can also choose to have wireless capabilities. The second difference is if you choose one of the 312MHz configurations, you will receive a sync cable instead of a cradle. In the box you will get the Dell Axim X30, a 950 mAh Battery, an AC Adapter, Charger Adapter, Axim X30 PocketPC 2003 Companion CD including Microsoft® Outlook ® and Microsoft® ActiveSync® 3.7.1, Axim X30 User’s Guide, Axim X30 Quick Start Poster, Slip case, Stylus and USB Cradle or USB Travel Sync Cable (depending on your order).
Before you begin you will want to make sure you get this device setup properly. The main thing is to get the batteries charged correctly. You will notice a little yellow sticker on the pouch that the Axim X30 comes in that says you need to turn on the device while charging the first time. This is done to charge the internal battery, which acts like a backup battery in case the main battery dies or is removed. At first I was confused as to what this means. If I turn it on while it is charging, do I leave it on or turn it back off? Do I wait until the main battery is charged first, or do I turn it on as soon as I plug it in? I really didn’t want to ruin the battery so I had to do some research on the subject. Trust me there is a lot of confusion; however, it’s not that bad and you don’t really have to worry. You can turn it on anytime during the first charge and you can leave it on or turn it off. I choose to turn mine off so that the main battery would charge faster. I also put a second battery that Dell sent me in the spare battery slot on the cradle. While charging the batteries, the battery in the Axim will have its charge status displayed as a green or orange light in the power button of the Axim. The spare battery has a separate light that is also green for charged and orange for charging, but this light is in the cradle. Dell suggests that you charge for a full 8 hours before you use the Axim, but I noticed that the 950 mAh battery took about 3 hours to charge before the light turned green and the 1800 mAh battery took about 4 1/2 hours to charge. I still left the Axim in for the full 8 hours just in case the internal battery took longer. I also noticed that the spare battery charger only gets about 97%-98% before it goes green. The slot is also very loose, if you wiggle the battery while it is charging, then you can get it to change colors.
Once it is charged and you have installed the Active Sync software, you are ready to go. You can install more programs and games or just use the ones Dell preloaded. It is highly recommended that you keep the Axim on the cradle or plugged in when you are not using it. This makes sure you do not completely drain the battery. Draining the Lithium-Ion battery to empty will damage them and shorten their life. You will also notice that the 1800 mAh battery is about a quarter of an inch thicker than the 900 mAh battery that comes with the Axim. This could be a problem for people because it will make the Axim thicker, and it will not fit in your case anymore. Make sure your case supports the thicker battery before you by one. The case that Dell sends with the device has elastic sides so it can stretch to fit the extra thickness.
What good is a PDA that doesn’t have any software? Well have no fear, the Axim comes with enough software to keep you busy for quite a while. To start with you get Microsoft ® Windows® Mobile 2003 Second Edition as the operating system. This gives you access to tons of programs and unmatched compatibility with other windows programs and data. Since Windows is by far the most popular operating system for computers, it only makes sense to get a PDA that uses the same operating system. Included in the operating system are several basic Windows applications including: Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Voice Recorder, Notes, Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, Pocket Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player 9, Calculator, Pictures, Jawbreaker, Solitaire, Inbox, File Explorer, MSN Messenger, terminal Services Client, VPN Client, Infrared Beaming, Clock, Align Screen, memory, Volume control, Landscape mode and WPA.
I would like to point out a couple of little features that I liked the most. Windows Mobile operating system allows for two view modes, portrait and landscape. These two modes when you use them correctly, can help to make up for the obviously small screen on all PDAs. The portrait mode is great for all around use and gives you a standard PDA look and feel. For programs like Excel, and some games, when you need to see more width you can switch to Landscape and it will flip the screen 90 degrees. This makes the screen wider and gives you more room to work. In addition to the two view modes, Windows Mobile supports a basic theme system. You are able to change the today screen to have a picture of your choosing as the background for the today and the start menu. This gives you just one more way to customize your Axim and make it your own.
Another nice feature of Windows Mobile is the multiple ways of entering in data. Windows Supports four ways to write text that will go in your application. The first way is the Block Recognizer: this is your standard Graffiti style of writing and you get a box at the bottom of the screen for writing letter and numbers. The second way is the onscreen keyboard, this is for those that don’t want to deal with Graffiti or if you have a symbol that is not recognized. The third way is the Letter Recognizer: this is like Graffiti, except it looks for english letters. The fourth and best way is the Transcriber: this is your handwriting recognizer. You can write anywere on the screen and in full sentences and the operating system will translate it to text. It is not 100% perfect, but it sure saves time when you are writing a lot of text.
In addition to the operating system you get a plethora of business applications and software, including several games. Dell loads several programs in the ROM, these include: File Store (nonvolatile file storage in flash ROM), Backup (utility for Backup/Restore to Memory Card), Switcher (access and launch programs easily), Power Status, Brightness, Microphone Gain Control, Version Display, Dell WLAN utility (with optional wireless model) and Funk Odyssey Client (LEAP support).
There is also a CD that comes with the Axim X30 that has a lot of extra software. Some of the software is full version including: Microsoft Active Sync 3.7.1, Outlook 2002, Resco Picture Viewer and Dell Diagnostic Utility. There are also several trial versions of software including: Agenda Fusion, CityTime, eWallet, Full Hand Casino, Griffin Technology Total Remote, Handmark Monopoly, Handmark Scrabble, Handy Zip, ListPro, McAfee VirusScan PDA, Resco File Explorer, Tennis Addict, Trip Tracker, Links Pocket PC, Pocket SlideShow, Cash Organizer 2003 Deluxe, Battery Pack 2004 and Calligrapher.
The design of this Axim X30 is fairly plain. I actually really like the look of the Axim X30. I am not one for fancy designs, strange shapes and lots of colors. As long as it fits in my hand and it is comfortable, then I am happy. I suppose that if Dell were interested in attracting the younger new age crowd, then they could adopt snap-on color covers or change the shape of the Axim X30. I suppose though, that Dell is looking for the more conservative business user with this design.
One of the things that I, and others, noticed as soon as we picked up the Axim, was that is was light. Compared to other PDAs of the same style, it is quite a bit lighter. For example the HP iPAQ h4355 with WiFi weighs 5.8 oz. and the Axim X30 with WiFi weighs 4.9 oz. This Axim X30 is very comfortable and easy to hold.
The only design piece that I don’t like about the Axim X30 is the Wireless/Bluetooth antenna that sticks out of the top. If there were some way to get rid of it, or squish it inside of the Axim X30, then it would make the Axim look better.
To start with, all the Axim X30 models feature the Intel® XScale™ Processor with WMMX. The Axim X30 I was sent, has the 624 MHz XScale PXA270. All the hardware that I list and talk about is related to the Axim X30 that I have, which is the 624 MHz version.
In addition to an extremely fast PDA processor, you get 64MB SDRAM and 64MB of Intel StrataFlash® ROM memory. The ROM memory is off limits to the user, but the SDRAM is where you store and run your programs. You are able to select how the memory is divided. I recommend that if you like to run big programs, or you like to run many programs at the same time, then you give more memory to programs and less to storage. If you only run one program at a time and you need more storage, then you can give more to storage. If you have a large memory card, then you don’t have to worry because you can install all your programs to the card and then give all the memory to running the programs. Dell also gives you an additional 30 MB of built-in storage. I never saw this mentioned in the specs on the Dell website and it is not a card, so I don’t know where it comes from, but it is helpful for installing larger programs. I asked Dell about the 30 MB of built-in storage and they said it is extra ROM that is not used by the programs.
You also get integrated 802.11b & Bluetooth™ which adds the ability to connect to other devices such as GPS and storage for the Axim X30s. A 3.5 inch TFT Color 16-bit, Touch Sensitive, Transflective LCD screen which displays at 240 x 320 resolution at 65,536 colors (QVGA) offers clarity that is better than any PDA that I have ever seen.
There are also buttons galore. You get 4 programmable buttons which by default are set to launch the Calendar, Contacts, Inbox and Home. A 5-way Navigation button sits between the 4 programmable buttons and can be used to move around the programs. There is a scroll button on the side which tabs through icons or scroll pages, and can be pressed to select. On both sides of the Axim X30, by the programmable buttons are two buttons. The one on the left is set to activate the voice recorder. The recorder uses a built in microphone which is located at the top of the Axim X30 to the left of the power button. The longer you hold down this button, the more it records. You can adjust the quality of the recorded audio to 8.0, 11.025, 22.05 and 44.1KHz. The button on the right of the programmable buttons turns on and off the WiFi and bluetooth. Both are turned on and off at the same time using this button. The power button at the top of the Axim X30 is obviously used to turn the Axim X30 on and off. The power button is also used to indicate the charge status by displaying an orange color when charging and a green color when charged. It also flashes orange to indicate an event, usually that your battery is low and needs to be changed.
At the top of the Axim X30 in addition to the wireless antenna there is a Secure Digital / SDIO Now! / MMC Memory Card Slot (3.3v) and a standard v1.2 (115 kbps) Infrared Port.
All the audio for the Axim X30 is controlled by an Audio Controller AC-97 Codec Chip; WM9705 Sound Chip. The Axim X30 supports 16-bit stereo and sample rates of 8.0, 11.025, 22.05 and 44.1KHz. There is also support for Full Duplex Record and Playback. All sound recording is handled with the Integrated Microphone, and playback can be sent to the built in Speaker or headphones by using the headphone jack on the side of the X30. The built-in speaker is not all that great, it does a decent job of playing back voice that you have recorded, but does not do very well with music. I recommend that if you are listening to MP3’s or watching video then you should use headphones.
Battery power is probably one of the most important things about a PDA. If the battery does not last from place to place, then it doesn’t do you any good. Dell sent me both a 950 mAh Lithium-Ion and a 1800 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. I ran a few tests on the batteries. In doing the tests I turned up the processor to full and turned off the power saving features. I did this to test the shortest time, so when you use the Axim you will usually get better times. Here are the results:
Now that I have shown you the shortest times you can expect while using the Axim X30, you should do your best to keep the power saving features turned on. One of the most important things that you can do is keep the processor running low. You can either set it to the minimum or set it to auto. If you keep it on minimum it runs at 208 Mhz and you could suffer from some performance issues. Setting the processor to auto will give you better performance by allowing the Axim to adjust the speed as it needs, but it will reduce the battery life. I keep mine on auto. You can also turn off the Infrared Port so that it is not always looking for a connection. You can turn down the brightness of the screen, and turn on auto dimming and auto off if you don’t use the Axim after a certain time. While using the 802.11 WiFi you can turn off the Bluetooth separately.
During the streaming video testing, I noticed that I got disconnected about every 5 minutes. You do not notice this so much when you surf the web, because it usually reconnects and continues to load the page. The longest that my video stayed connected was about 23 minutes, and that seemed like a fluke because everything else was so much shorter. I cannot completely blame the Axim because I was using a WiFi network at a local college and it may have been that the network was unstable.
Since this is the first Pocket PC with a 624 Mhz processor, there is not much to compare it to. So, I picked the fastest PDAs and tested those. As you can tell from the charts the Axim X30 is fast. This speed is very noticeable when you are running video, games and other CPU intensive applications.
I do have to mention that I found one problem with the sensitivity of the screen. It is a very small difference and you can only notice it if you press very softly. If you go to notes and you start to draw, you will notice that as you get close to the left edge the drawing stops. On my Axim it happened about a quarter of an inch away from the edge. If I press harder, then it starts drawing again. If you are heavy-handed, then you will probably not notice this since you will already be pressing hard enough. I am not sure if this can be fixed with a firmware release, but lets hope Dell fixes it soon.
I am very impressed with this PDA. Dell has once again made a very solid computing device, and at the same time they have kept the price down so that it is affordable to everyone. Despite the few minor flaws that I found, including the spare battery charger being loose and not charging completely, and the screen edges not being as sensitive as the middle, this is still a good and highly recommended device. If you don’t need a fast processor, and you only need it if you are playing games or crunching big numbers, then you can save quite a bit and get a lower version. If you don’t need wireless, then you can go even lower. Even at its lowest the Axim X30 is still a great PDA and will serve to meet your needs.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|