First Thoughts: Dell Axim X5 Overview update!

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view how Dell responded to this with our update

The time has arrived for many of those that have been waiting for months for the appearance of the Dell Axim. Today I got my hands on the Axim X5 and have some good, and some bad to report. First here’s a peak as to what comes in the box:

Onto the news though, I generally like to get the bad news out of the way first, so here goes. ..

Bad Stuff Section:

I can understand misconfiguring a computer that is custom built, but I don’t understand how a company can mess up shipping a non-configured PDA. Dell did. I ordered and paid for a Dell AXIM X5 400 Mhz PDA with 64 MB of RAM, but take a look at this screen shot from the Axim:

And here’s my package slip:

So my first piece of advice to everyone buying or who has bought a Dell Axim is to go into your system settings and make sure you haven’t been ripped off by paying for a 400 MHz 64 MB device and receiving something else.

Anyway, after realizing this issue and being rather angry, I figured I’d just go ahead and test the device since it was on and open anyway, here’s the next thing that happened to me:

This was a rather inglorious start for the Axim, and if I weren’t an even-tempered person I’d probably have lost it. Anyway, I ended up rebooting the system and running through setup again and everything was fine, except my confidence in the Axim working properly that is. Once the 300 MHz Axim started working though, things went a little more smoothly. Let me flush the rest of the bad points out by saying I really dislike the slippery flat stylus that looks like an anorexic fish (an oar like share) and the screen and speaker are just average compared to the iPaq line of PDAs.

Good Stuff Section:

Well there is certainly good stuff about the Axim that I found. The cradle is cool looking, check it out:

The neon blue Dell logo looks very swank on the chrome cradle. Very futuristic looking, as far as functionality goes I found it a little awkward at first to fit the Axim into it’s cradle, but quickly got used to it and the found that the Dell light that goes on and off in correspondence with the Axim being connected to the cradle or not made for great visual feedback. The really cool thing about the cradle is the fact you can charge the Axim and a backup battery at the same time, this is a very smart design. This of course also means that the battery is removable from the Axim which is a great feature, if you have the PDA and a backup battery charging at the same time you can view the status of charge on the backup battery via the Axim. The mechanism for removing the battery on the back requires use of a stylus to unlock the battery, but it is very simple to do and very easy to get the battery back in also.

Another thing to just love about the Axim is the dual expansion slots of CompactFlash and SecureDigital. These expansion slots also support IO devices such as Wi-Fi cards, Bluetooth cards, Radio FM Cards, Cameras and so on. In other words, the Axim is highly expandable and can grow with you — this is a very important point.

As far as size goes, the Axim is no petite Pocket PC, but it’s not as unbearably big as some make it out to be. Here are the stats on the size: 5.1x 3.2 x 0.7 in., 6.9 oz. Here’s a shot of the Axim next to the tiny iPaq 1910:

The Axim is about .5 in longer than the iPaq, .2 in thicker and 2 oz heavier. In other words, it’s significantly bigger than the smallest Pocket PC, but the trade off is that the Dell Axim is faster (assuming you have the 400 MHz) and more expandable.

The case on the Dell Axim is nothing to write home about really, not bad but just not thrilling. I’m not sure how I feel about the rubber grips that stretch along the entire length of each side of the Axim. On the one hand it does make it much easier to grip the device but on the other hand it makes the device look even chunkier. As far as form and looks goes, the iPaq 1910 runs circles around the Axim, but the Axim’s buttons are bigger and easier to push than the iPaq 1910’s. I found that the jog-dial on the Axim is a lot better than the smallish jog-dial on the iPaq.

The Axim comes with a free case to protect the device when it’s not in use, the case is decent for being free but you could certainly find something better on the market soon I’m sure.

The price of the Axim is one of the biggest things to rave about for this device, view the latest pricing here:

Dell Axim 400 MHz Pricing & rebate info

Dell Axim 300 MHz Pricing & rebate info

After rebates the 400 MHz should cost you $299 and the 300 MHz $199

More to Come:

I really do need time to play with the Axim, my two bad experiences right out of the box tonight were unpleasant but I think rather atypical. I doubt many others had these problems with the wrong PDA being shipped and a system crash after 2 minutes of the Axim being on. However, if you did get this same thing then let us know by posting a message on the discussion boards. I look forward to getting the 400 MHz device and testing the speed, battery life — which is supposed to be good even without considering the fact you can have backups — and how the device behaves with a few expansion accessories I have. Look forward to a full review coming soon.


Dell has called this afternoon and been very helpful with handling this problem in the wrong PDA being shipped.  Their resolution this morning was to let me keep the Axim I have while they build a new 400 MHz unit for shipping.  It took a couple of hours on customer support this morning to accomplish this, but in the end it was handled the right way.  This afternoon a Dell representative contacted us to try and get to the bottom of the issue with why the wrong PDA was shipped and hopefully they can learn why all this happened.



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