Axim X50v

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Hey Dell, would you slow down already?
You already had an excellent handheld on the market for the budget conscious
with the Axim X30, which combined a speedy processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a
surprisingly low price.

Now, before the rest of the industry has caught up, you’ve released the X50
line. We appreciate the improvements, but we’re getting tired of writing, “It’s
nice, but when it comes to value, it’s no Axim,” in our other reviews.

With all it had going for it, the X30 seemed hard to improve upon. But Dell
has done it with the X50 line, which has a VGA screen in its top model,
accelerated graphics performance, and a drastically improved design.

It’s the design that you’ll notice first. With it’s
silver-and-black exterior and gently rounded shape, it makes the X30 look like a
giant silver brick. Surprisingly, it’s the same size as the X30 (4.7 by 2.9 by
0.7 inches), but with rounded edges that make it look much smaller: The X50 fits
the hand beautifully.


The X50’s design improvements don’t end with its shape. The X50 has two
thumb-buttons on the side that look like volume controls, but actually turn on
Wi-Fi and the voice recorder.

Because these are easy to turn on by mistake (as we can attest; we
accidentally made a voice recording that entirely filled the memory), there’s a
lock button just above them that will deactivate all the controls.

& Controls

The Axim’s speaker is now on the front instead of the rear, which makes
sense. One huge improvement is that the X50 has two card slots: one for Secure Digital (SD) cards, as before, and a new one
for CompactFlash (CF) cards. This is sure to be useful in many ways, such as
letting users remove the CF card from their camera and pull up pictures
instantly on their handheld.


Display & Video
The top model in the X50 line, the X50v, comes
with a VGA (640 x 480 pixel) screen instead of the Pocket PC standard QVGA (240 x 320 pixel) display,
and is the first Axim to have one.

Simple math would suggest that a VGA would offer a lot more screen real
estate. After all, QVGA means quarter VGA, so a VGA should have four times as
much room and four times as many pixels. And that would be true here, except
that Microsoft didn’t add true VGA support to Windows Mobile 2003 Second
Edition. What you get instead is a much sharper picture and better-looking
fonts, but no more room than you had before. If you get a browser that supports
VGA, for example, you will be able to view whole Web pages on the Pocket PCs screen. The same goes for other
VGA-enabled applications, such as spreadsheets.

Driving the Axim X50v’s high-quality screen is an Intel 2700G multimedia
accelerator with 16MB video memory, which insures that your videos will be
smooth and flicker free. The easiest way to show off the video horsepower,
however, is to launch one of the two high-resolution games that come with the
X50v, Enigmo and Stuntcar Extreme.



Both games are a blast and have better-looking graphics than you’ve probably
ever seen on a handheld. Enigmo is a logic game in which you stream dripping
water into a pot, using a variety of tools to help guide its way. Stuntcar
Extreme is a racing game in which you jump your car through rings of fire. The
motion was so real, it actually made us a little motion sick.

A 624-MHz Intel X-Scale processor drives the X50v, as with the top model in the
earlier X30 line. It has 64MB of RAM, as the X30 does, but 128MB of ROM storage
versus the X30’s 64MB. It also bundles both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless networking.

The X50 line has the distinction of being the first handheld to come with the
pocket version of Microsoft Windows Media Player (WMP) 10 installed. As with the
desktop version, the mobile edition o f WMP is a big improvement over WMP 9. WMP
10 integrates digital rights management support for streaming services, so it
can access content from Musicmatch, CinemaNow,, among others.

After a few weeks of testing the X50v, we can say that it’s specs don’t just
look good on paper. The X50v is a pleasure to use, whether for work or play.

It comes with pocket versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, Messenger, and MSN,
and has more than enough processing power to use them. The Pictures application
displays shots well in either portrait or landscape mode, although the screen
isn’t as vividly colored as other handhelds on the market. It also comes with a
handy Switcher Bar application, as did the previous Axims, which places a small
icon at the top of the screen that lets you switch or close applications

The X50 bundles with a charging cradle that’s much smaller than the one that
comes with the X30, yet it also contains room for a charging a second battery.
The package bundles a slipcase cover, but our early test model didn’t have it so
we can’t comment on how it looks.


of Cradle with Extra Battery

So Many Choices
There are now three Axim X50 and three X30
handhelds, so choosing the right one for you could be difficult.

The top X50, the X50v, sells for $499, which is far less than other top
Windows handhelds. If you have the money and crave the VGA screen and multimedia
processing power, we say go for it.

The top X30 has been reduced to an amazing $314, which is a steal for a
handheld with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. Plus, it also has a 624-MHz
processor. It doesn’t have the X50’s styling, but it’s great for power users on
a budget.

It’s less obvious who the ideal users are for the middle and low-end X50s.
The middle sells for $399 and has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 520-MHz processor, and
both CompactFlash and SD card slots.

It differs from the X50v by not implementing a VGA screen (it has QVGA), the
multimedia accelerator, or the game bundle. Unless you plan to watch a lot of
videos or do other things that would use the multimedia abilities, you could
save $100 and buy this model instead of the X50v.

The lower-end X50 sells for $299 and has a 416-MHz processor. It’s similar to
the middle X50, except it lacks Wi-Fi and has only 64MB of storage. The high-end
X30 is only $15 more and seems a much better deal since it has Wi-Fi. Even if
you don’t think you need Wi-Fi in your day-to-day, it’s incredibly useful to
have on hand.

With the X50 line, Dell has put more distance, in terms
of overall bang for the buck, between its handhelds and everyone else’s. The
only thing missing is a digital camera. But if that feature isn’t important
to you and you’re thinking about buying a Pocket PC, you can’t do better than taking the time
to consider one of Dell’s X50 handhelds.

Reprinted from

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