In April, Intel unveiled its next-generation XScale processors for mobile products, and now the first Windows Mobile 2003 OS-based handhelds to employ them have finally surfaced: the Dell Axim X30 series. Replacing the Axim X3, the mid-range X30 adds Intel's new 312MHz processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the latest Windows Mobile OS. At £161 the X30 is an affordable solution for consumers and business users alike. It's a better buy than the step-down model, which costs less but has less memory and lacks wireless connectivity. If you need a model with more power, Dell offers a high-end version with a 624MHz processor for £206.
The Dell Axim X30 didn't get much of a face-lift; it retains its predecessor's silver casing and rather plain look. Whether or not you're concerned with appearances, you'll definitely appreciate its compact size and light weight. At 133g and 116 by 76 by 15mm, the X30 is only slightly bigger than the Dell Axim X3 and the HP iPaq H4150, a remarkable trait when you consider all the features packed in this PDA. Additionally, it sits well in your hand and feels sturdy enough to endure numerous trips from your bag to your car to your desk.
|No extreme makeover here; the X30 retains the same look as the X3|
|A view from the top reveals the IR port, the expansion slot, and the wireless antenna|
The screen is a standard 89mm (3.5-inch) TFT display with 65,536 colours and a 240x320-pixel resolution. Just below it are the five-way navigational keypad and four traditional shortcut keys to your calendar, your contacts, your in-box, and your home page, all of which are user programmable. As a bonus, you'll find two labelled buttons on the outside of the shortcut keys; one is for the voice-record function, while the other enables and disables Wi-Fi. The latter is particularly handy, as it lets you access the Web with one click rather than having to navigate multiple menus. Turn the device over, and you'll find a speaker and the user-replaceable 950mAh battery. To disengage the cell from the handheld, you have to hold the unlock key while taking out the battery -- but at least you can remove it.
Lining the X30's left side are a standard headphone jack and a jog wheel that allows you to scroll through menu items and to easily navigate with one hand. These features cause that side to protrude slightly -- not a major inconvenience but a bit of an eyesore. The right side houses the flat stylus, which never felt comfortable in our hands. We prefer the traditional round form.
Line 'em up: Shortcut keys to your calendar, your contacts, your in-box, and your home page and navigational keypad
Sitting on top of the device are the IR port, an SDIO/MMC expansion slot, and the antenna nub for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The antenna glows green and blue when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, respectively, are on, but it adds a bit of bulk to the device. By comparison, many models with the wireless combination, such as the iPaq H4150 and the Toshiba e805, have a wireless radio seamlessly built in. Fortunately, Dell throws in a nice, soft protective case (with belt clip) that covers the antenna and allows for easy transport. We were disappointed Dell doesn't include the desktop cradle that comes with the high-end model, but the company bundles a USB sync cable, an AC adaptor, and a power cord.