Dell has sent us the new Axim X3 Windows Mobile powered Pocket PC for review. This new model comes in two flavours: the Dell Axim X3 and the Axim X3i. The difference is that the second one includes a wireless network adapter (wi-fi). I have to confess I was a little disappointed when I opened the box and found out the review unit did not have a wireless connection. But I figured that apart from connectivity, other features are the same, and started enjoying it.
The first impression is really good. The handheld case is a nice titanium-looking plastic with round, flat buttons. There are four little rubber pads in the back, so the PDA is firmly in place when laying on a flat surface. The cradle is a work of futuristic art, with a semitransparent plastic casing.
The cradle can recharge the PDA and a spare battery. This is because the Dell Axim has a removable battery. The standard one is a 950 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and a spare 1800 mAh lithium-ion is available. Because the PDA also has a backup CR2032 battery you can safely swap batteries and the Dell Axim will go into a "sleep" mode during this operation.
The face has six buttons (not counting the power button on top), two of them on the edges. The default configuration is notes, calendar, contacts, inbox, home, Windows Media player. Of course this can be changed, and it's nice to have so many buttons. In the middle of this row there's a "navigator" button. On the left side theres a jog dial that can be used for selection and action (up, down and press).
The PDA is very light, weighting only 140g. Its dimensions are 117 x 14.9 x 77.2mm (4.6" x 0.6" x 3"), and I felt my iPAQ H3970 was gigantic in comparison.
The screen is a very nice 3.5-inch TFT 240x320 QVGA 65K Color Transflective LCD, very responsive to the touch of the stylus. The stylus is not round like in other PDAs, but flattened. It's quite easy to hold, but you have to find the correct position when inserting it in its holder: the top is asymmetrical and only fits in one position.
The Axim X3 comes with Windows Mobile 2003 installed, and CD ROM Pocket PC Premium, including ActiveSync and Microsoft Outlook 2002. The basic software includes pocket versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word and Excel, Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player. Dell added a few goodies as part of the basic software. One is the Home application. Like a launcher, users can create shortcuts, groups, move icons and this is accessible at a touch of a button.
The Home application
Also in the mix is a backup application and a very util Task Switcher:
The task switcher
The backup application
The model we have here for review is running an Intel Xscale PXA263 processor at 400MHz, with 64MB SDRAM and 64MB Intel StrataFlash ROM. This includes a 34MB built-in available for semi-permanent storage.
One of the tabs in the Power applet gives the user control over the processor speed. Choose between Maximum (400Mhz), Normal (400Mhz), Power Save (300Mhz) and Auto (controls the speed based on CPU load) . How does it perform on a benchmark against other machines? I've used Spb Benchmark to collect performance information, and if you click in the chart you can have access to our Performance Centre, with other Pocket PC reviews and charts:
The Dell Axim X3 also comes with Secure Digital IO (SDIO Now!) slot and IrDA (in some old documents I have I found it listed as Consumer IrDA but the manual with this unit says just v1.2). In terms of sound there's a AC-97 codec chip and WM9705 chip.
For my personal use I'd choose the wi-fi version of this Pocket PC. The dimensions are very similar, with the addition of a stub antenna on top of the PDA. For other uses the version I've tested is perfect: small, bright, light, stylish. And available here in New Zealand too !