* Prices may differ from that shown
This PDA is like a real Dell PC running Windows which includes bugs, hangs, and crashes! It's bad. After all the patches that were both required and not required, it still performs like a computer from the 90s. Takes forever to boot up. Hit the power button and wait just over 20 seconds for the dumb "Dell" screen to go away. Now you've got another 10 to 15 seconds to wait before the program you first want to open actually opens. I got this thing so I could take it out of my pocket and take notes or look something up fast. I can do these things but not quick enough. I had a palm before this, and I never had a single issue. Hit the power button, then open your application. Instantly. Amazing. Do yourself a favor and get a palm or maybe an HP (haven't tried an HP yet, but you couldn't do worse than this turd.) I've had PDAs before, and nothing this bad. Do yourself a favor and try another brand.
Handheld computers or Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) were quite popular a few years ago as an extremely portable device that could allow you to send and receive e-mails, work on office documents and have a personal organiser all in one device that you could carry around in your pocket. These devices have really been made defunct these days with the advance of organisers, e-mail and internet on mobile phones and then office suites and the internet on tablet computers and the like.
About 5 years ago I purchased a Dell Axim X51v. The v indicates that this model is the cream-of-the-crop in the X51 range and contains quite a few extra luxuries over the other X51 models.
* The Device Itself *
The device itself is quite a stylish model; it is black with a silver chrome finish making it look quite professional. It has nice rounded edges making it more aesthetically pleasing. It measures approximately 4.7 x 2.9 x 0.7 inches (width x length x height) and weighs in at just 6.2 ounces making it quite portable.
There are a few buttons on the front for easy access to the home screen, calendar, contacts and e-mail. It's a shame that these couldn't be customised to start up your own personal applications that you use most often. There is also a navigational button for navigating through menus and scrolling through lists, etc. At the top there is the power button along with battery and connectivity LEDs. On the side there is a button for switching your wireless network connector on and off. This is really useful because a constant connection to a wireless network drains the battery rather quickly. So being able to switch this off with a button rather than navigating your way through several menus and screens is very useful. There is also a button for activating the voice recorder. At the top of the device is a 3.5mm headphone jack and also a neat little slot for housing the stylus so you shouldn't lose it.
* Accessories *
In the box with the handheld you get a USB dock which is a neat place to sit your device during synchronisation and charging. There is a USB cable and adapter if you don't want to carry the dock around with you. There is a neat protective sleeve for housing your device which protects it from getting scratched during transporation.
* Hardware *
The Axim is a touch screen device which you use with a stylus. Using the screen and stylus is very intuitive and you soon pick it up. The screen reacts well to clicks, but there aren't any advanced options such as scrolling or dragging which is a shame. The 3.7 inch VGA TFT screen has a very good resolution of 640x480 pixels and has a 24-bit (16.7m colours) colour depth. The screen is supposed to be transreflective, so it should work well in any light conditions. However, I have found like nearly all devices that you take outside on a sunny day its very hard to see anything passed the reflections. On the plus side it is very well illuminated so works well in the dark.
Under the hood the Axim has the PXA270 processor running at 624MHz with 64Mb RAM and 256Mb flash ROM. There is an Intel 2700G graphics card with 16MB of dedicated video memory. This is more powerful than my desktop computer not that many years ago! If you intend to store many files and documents on your device then the 256MB flash ROM my not be adequate. Fortunately there are plenty of options extending this. There is an SDIO slot for secure digital (SD) cards, a MultiMedia Card (MMC) slot and a CompacyFlash (CF) slot for compatible memory cards. All these means that extra disk capacity can easily be achieved without too much cost. I have a 1GB SD card and its brilliant for carrying around music and video files that you don't really want to occupy the flash ROM.
* Operating System *
The operating system sitting between the hardware and the software is Windows Mobile 5. Unfortunately this is quite a bulky operating system and you will find that it uses a good chunk of the devices resources. The processor speed and memory might have sounded good, but when Windows takes its share, there isn't a lot left.
Windows Mobile allows software from third parties to be installed onto the devices. You can purchase all sorts of applications from games to GPS software. It's also very easy for software developers who use Visual Studio to develop custom software for these devices.
* Data Entry *
Entering information will usually be done via the virtual keyboard which is the simplest and easiest method. When activated the keyboard takes up roughly the bottom quarter of the screen. The keys are laid out like a normal keyboard so finding the right key is fairly easy. The buttons are plenty large enough to click with your stylus without making too many mistakes. An alternative method of entering text in word processing and memo applications is by actually writing on the screen into a special control using the stylus as if it were a pen. I have found that this is not the most accurate (possibly because my handwriting is not the neatest). When the software tries to decipher what you have scrolled it often makes mistakes. If you have neat writing then this could work quite well and will probably be a lot quicker than tapping out the words on the virtual keyboard.
* Organiser *
The Dell Axim X51v is great for business use and contains all the software you need to get on with your day. You can store details of all your contacts and use the calendar to schedule all of your appointments. Much like you do on modern mobile phones; simply select a date and enter your appointment information. There are plenty of fields for information such as the person you're meeting, the location and the time, etc. Reminders are issued at selected times before the appointment is due which is handy.
* Office Software *
The inclusion of mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint is a great feature. During synchronisation documents created on your main desktop and laptop can be transferred to your handheld and opened, modified and sent back. Unfortunately with PowerPoint you can't edit slides, but it is good for viewing presentations. All of the basic features of Word and Excel are available in the mobile versions. Remember that these are very basic versions when compared to the software on your desktop so don't expect anything advanced like macros to work when you open documents on the PDA.
* Synchronisation *
This machine is not going to be any good unless you can synchronise the data with your main computer. It uses Microsoft ActiveSync version 4 to initiate synchronisation of your contacts and documents. The device is connected to your main computer via the supplied USB cable or USB dock. The dock is also a handy place to sit the device during synchronisation and charging. The unit is charged automatically when connected to your main computer. Synchronisation is usually a fast and painless task. Just be aware that if you make changes to a file on your main computer and the handheld then you will need to instruct ActiveSync which version of the file you want to keep.
* Connectivity *
The X51v has a built-in WiFi connection, which was another reason why I chose this model. It easily connects to my wireless network giving me access to files on other computers on my network and of course e-mail functionality and the internet. Alternative options for connectivity are Bluetooth and infrared. The infrared option works but is not very practical as you have to line up the infra red port with the device you're connecting to. A better option is Bluetooth which is great for connecting to compatible printers and mobile phones, etc.
When you aren't in a WiFi hotspot you can connect to the Internet by connecting your mobile phone via Bluetooth and opening up a gateway. It is quite fiddly and obviously your download speeds will be very slow. If you're just checking for an important e-mail then it's a possible solution, but don't use it for accessing YouTube or downloading music!
* E-mail and Internet *
Once you have connected to a network the e-mail and internet facilities become available. If you know what you're doing then configuring your e-mail account in the mobile version of Outlook is not too bad. You will need to know all of your account and server information. Once your account is successfully setup it is straightforward to download your messages. To save time it initially downloads your message headers and only downloads the complete message when you open it. The device doesn't download your messages automatically you have to initiate the download yourself, but it does work very smoothly.
The internet is also very straightforward to use with the mobile version of Internet Explorer. Because it's a cut down version there are features that you don't get such as flash and scripting but the majority of web sites will open successfully. The size of the screen obviously impacts on viewing so try and stick to WAP pages and those with few or no images. Download speeds are fairly quick and its surprisingly easy to navigate pages. Try to avoid pages with heavy multimedia content and large images because this will dramatically impact download speeds and make it difficult to view the page.
* Other Features *
There is a voice recording feature for taking dictations etc. You can record clips up to 500 seconds in length. It records in 16-bit wav format in stereo for very good quality.
Other software on the device includes a mobile version of Windows Media player 10 which allows you to play music and video. Formats that will play include WMA, MP3 and WMV files. When comparing to todays high end mobile phones and gadgets the quality is not wonderful, but it does the job. You can also view your pictures and photos but there is no software for editing.
* Battery *
With my normal usage I tend to get about 7 to 8 hours from a full charge. It's much less if you're connected to a wireless network and have the screen set to its brightest. Charging is fairly swift and takes a couple of hours.
* Availability *
Unfortunately Dell stopped producing these devices a couple of years ago because of the rapid development of mobile phones. The only way to get your hands on one now is on the second-hand market via something like ebay. Good quality devices still sell on ebay for around £50 which is a testament to how good and useful they are.
* Overall *
This was a very good device in its day and was a great tool to have. As far as I was concerned it was the best device of its kind available at the time because of its power and the WiFi capability. Unfortunately more and more mobile phones started to include many of the features that were exclusive to PDA's, so the demand for these devices started to wane. I still use my Axim occasionally when I'm working on a Word or Excel document away from home or the office, but this is really the only task that I can't do on my phone. It's a pity, but I think these devices have had their day.
Great handheld with a brilliant screen and very fast processor
Dedicated graphics card means it can run the most advanced games for Windows Mobile. Very fast processor is capable of running anything thrown at it. Very clear screen, was one of the first with a VGA 640 x 480 screen. The touch screen is very responsive. Has WiFi which is extremely quick. THe on screen handwriting recognition is very very accurate and great for making quite notes in meetings. Great when used in conjunction with a bluetooth GPS module and TomTom as an in car sat nav system,
No phone capabilites. Only comes with Windows Mobile 5 or even 2003. Battery doesnt last long with intensive use. A bit to big for some pockets.
This pocket pc is great overall and will manage all your business tasks and keep you up to date when out of the office.
Right out of the box my axim was working perfectly. Although I had a few difficulties working out how to connect to a network, once you know how to do it it is relatively easy.
The microsoft office 6.1 works well however if you are intending to use it for large scale word processing then I would advise purchasing a bluetooth keyboard as the touchscreen keyboard is very time consuming and wearing on the eyes and the letter recogniser and transcriber are as usual very temperamental.
The battery life isn't what you'd call decent and buying a larger battery ruins the design ergonomics.
Overall I think it is a very capable pocket pc. The official RRP is quite high however I was able to pick mine up for a little under £100 which I think is very decent. I have to disagree with previous reviews as I think this PDA is excellent for what it needs to be used for and a larger battery is cheap and easy to get hold of
This was my first pocket pc, having shifted from Palm, and I instantly saw the familiar Microsoft features. The pocket office suite is very easy to sync with desktop office suites, and in my opinion is significantly nicer than Documents to Go. Coupled with a wireless keyboard, the Axim becomes a very powerful office companion, though that is not a slur on its pre-installed input methods, with its handwriting recogniser being able to cope with my overly cursive handwriting.
Possessing wifi was a major upside, and I was even able to pair it with the highly troublesome Wanadoo livebox, providing rapid internet access. The inbuilt software is adequate, though it is advisable to utilise a program such as TCMP for media duties, as the mobile Windows Player is woefully restricted. I was slightly dissapointed at the poor buffering capabilities of axim when playing films streamed off the home network, but that was never one of my prime intentions.
My axim came with 2 spare, higher capacity batteries, and whilst much larger than the standard battery, if you are not looking for extreme portability it is definetely worth a look at.
The device can be somewhat tempermental at times, but that may be due to my tendency to overuse the onboard RAM, running at times 15 programs - which is probably not advisable.
My one dissapointment is the inability to sync through Wifi using activesync - but that was Microsoft's attempt to secure a potential security weak point, rather than a failure on Dell's part, and can easily be rectified by programs such as Total Commander.
Overall, as an office companion and entertainment device it has superceded my expectations signifcantly, and whilst not as aesthetically pleasing as my Palm T5, the fact that I was able to play a port of Quake, made it all good :D.
The PDA with the fastest CPU on the market might be a big attraction, but in my opinion it's a pointless one - it has enough power to play games, but the small battery means you can't do this for long.
The large amount of on-board storage (128 MB) is a boon, but when 2 GB SD cards can be had for £10 this is less of an advantage.
The screen is large, hi resolution (640*480, VGA) and high quality, and with the unique graphics card can be plugged into a projector / monitor and still look good, however the cable is roughly £15, and not included.
The PDA has wireless, great for going out/holiday, and has enough RAM to do several things at once.
Dell Axim X51 - 520MHz
Windows Mobile 5.0
Intel Processor at 520MHz
3.5" colour TFT display
Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Integrated Compact Flash and Secure Digital expansion slots
Media Player 10
Mobile Office (Word, Excel & Powerpoint)
Calendar, tasks and contact management
Several demo games
Additional Software Purchased
My Palm Tungsten E was beginning to show its age after a couple of years and I started looking at a replacement. I am not confident about the future for Palm units so thought I'd look at Pocket PC models. After initially looking at HP iPaq models I felt that the Dell range offered better value for money. My criteria included straightforward compatibility with MS Outlook and other MS Office applications, a large bright screen and the option to include a sat nav package. After reading some very positive reviews in the computer press I decided on the Axim.
The Dell website were offering the 520 for the same price as the 416 so I went for this option. I also purchased the Dell Navigator sat nav, carry case and screen protectors.
Sat Nav £183
I am mostly very pleased with this unit, it is noticeably more powerful and better quality than my old Palm. The display will be familiar to most PC users as it mirrors the Win XP desktop very well. All applications and functions are easily accessible from the Start menu which can be customised to provide shortcuts if required.
The screen is very clear and bright and doesn't have any dead space. It can become hard to view in brighter light but this is common for most PDAs.
The bundled software all work well, the Outlook functions are easy to use and sync well with your main PC. The Office applications are fairly comprehensive in terms of functionality. MS Word is very good and virtually fully formatted documents can be produced. MS Excel and Powerpoint are equally good but the screen size makes them hard to use effectively, they are usable at a pinch but no replacement for a full size machine. The on-screen keyboard is good for entering text and is accessible from most applications, but it's not a patch on the Palm Graffiti tool.
Pocket PC units tend to be bigger than their Palm equivalents and this is no exception. With the carry case the Axim becomes quite bulky and you're not going to forget it's in your pocket. It's also noticeably heavier, but we're only talking grams here. The battery life is quite disappointing and depending on what applications are running can be down to a couple of hours. If you are a heavy user you might want to consider getting the bigger battery.
The selection of software and games for Pocket PCs is huge and you should find something to meet your needs without too many problems.
The Dell Navigator sat nav add on was one of the main reasons for choosing this machine. It really is very good once you get it set up. The instructions were for a different version of Windows and consequently I had to spend some time with the help files to get the connection working. The map files included cover much of the UK and Europe and can be selected by country. This is important as the map files are very large and even just using the UK map virtually filled my 512MB expansion card. The maps are pretty up to date and after a lot of use I've only found one new road not covered (A21 sth of Tonbridge). Setting up a route is quick and easy, the list of possible destinations is very comprehensive and I haven't defeated it yet. On the move the directions are very clear on screen and the vocal instructions are pleasant and well timed. If you go off course or think you know better the unit will recalculate within seconds and revise its directions.
USB cable and cradle connections are included and the Auto Sync function works well. My machine has a tendency to freeze on occasion and this requires a 'soft' reboot but this is frustrating more than a real problem.
This is a good quality, powerful unit that should meet most of your PDA needs. The bundled software will cover 90% of the things that you want to do and everything else is easily found. The sat nav package is very good and I would certainly recommend it as an alternative to a dedicated unit. In one sense you are buying an excellent sat nav and getting a top of the range PDA thrown in.