Pros: Best in class Intel processor, VGA screen, graphics accelerator, SD/CF slots with I/O capable
Cons: Battery life of standard 1100mAh battery. 2200 mAh battery protrudes out of the PDA
Dell AXIM X51v:
I used the Palm Tungsten E for a long time and never had a problem with it. My company gave me Dell Axim X51. There was a major difference in performance (cant compare the two esp. since the Tungsten is 2-3 years older & different OSs). When my wife got a X51v, it was a good opportunity to compare the 2 models.
Comparing X51v vs X51 :
Though both look the same with the exception of a very slightly bigger screen, there are some striking differences within:
Processor: X51v 624 Mhz vs X51 520 Mhz
Higher clock speed processor translates into faster operation speed and would make substantial difference. But with normal use, I did not find the difference. Opening word, power point, excel etc program/files took the same amount of time. But the difference lies when opening and running multiple programs, especially multimedia and processor intensive applications. The X51v out-performs the X51
Graphics and LCD screen:
There is a striking difference here, the X51 has a QVGA LCD display, with a max resolution of 240x320, while the X51v has a VGA LCD display, Intel 2700G mm accelerator with 16 MB dedicated memory and 480x640 max resolution. The difference is obvious, the X51v seems to have acres of desktop space and the pixels size is smaller. Playing video files is a joy. The video files start up faster, and play smoothly. The LCD screen is slightly bigger on the X51v at 3.7 inches compared to the X51s 3.5 inches. The Bubble Breaker game that comes with the PDA has bubbles of 5 different colors, the X51v displays more richer colors with 3D effects making the bubbles look more real, while the X51 displays the bubbles in not so rich colors and hardly any 3D effect.
Memory: X51v 64MB RAM & 256MB ROM vs X51 64MB RAM /128MB ROM
More space for programs & files. I would recommend getting a CF or a SD memory card for more space. With prices of SD & CF cards going down and capacities sky-rocketing, a 4 GB card can cost less than $100.
Weight: X51v 6.2 oz vs X51 5.9 oz
There is a slight difference in weight but with just 0.3 oz or 8 grams difference between the two, it not perceivable and hardly makes a difference. It is surprising that the X51v, packed with so many more goodies weighs only 0.3 oz more than the X51.
Battery life: There is improved battery life on the X51v, thanks to the automatic processor speed selection it nearly doubles the battery life when playing MP3s
DELL Axim X51 in depth:
In the Box:
(1) Dell Axim X51v PDA (2) Sync/charge cradle (3) Padded case (4) 1100 mAh LI-ion battery (5) Windows Mobile 5.0 CD with other evaluation software & (6) user manual.
The Sync/charge cradle is heavy & very stable and has rubber non-slip feet. There is provision to charge an extra battery while the X51v is cradled. The padded case is very basic and does not have any compartments to hold extra battery or SD/CF cards etc. The User manual is very comprehensive and detailed.
Design & Layout:
Dell has not changed the design much from the older X50 model. There is no difference between the X51 & the X51v models. The only differentiating feature is the model number written on the face and a slightly bigger LCD screen. It is predominantly black with brushed silver edges on the front. The buttons are brushed silver with shiny silver engravings on it and make them look very attractive. The back is black and is rubberized for slip-proof grip and holds well on slight inclines. The finish and build speak of quality and makes it look very attractive, modern and robust.
The layout of the buttons on the face is very standard, it includes the 4-way button at the bottom and 2 application buttons on either sides. The 4-way switch can be used for scrolling up-down & left-right and surrounds a select button inside it. The application buttons have the symbols of the applications engraved into them (Calendar, Contacts, Mail & Home). These buttons are customizable and can be programmed to open other applications. There is a power button on the top, which is set to dim/light the display, but can be programmed to power-off completely or can be left un-assigned. It has an LED in it, to display the charge status amber for charging & green for fully charged. On the right side of the power button is a LED that glows green to signal Wi-fi is enabled and blue for Bluetooth enabled. On the left side is the microphone. There are 3 buttons on the side, these are dedicated buttons and are not programmable. The top most button is a lock, can disable the touch screen and other buttons and helps from keys being pressed unintentionally. The middle button is for turning ON/OFF wireless connectivity, nice to have a dedicated button instead of going through the menus. The button either switches ON or OFF both wireless connectivities, Wi-fi and Bluetooth at the same time. There is an eyelet for a strap. On the back of the PDA there is a hard reset switch, battery door and the battery door lock/release switch. The top of the PDA has 2 slots for SD & CF Type I / II cards, one 3.5mm audio jack, Infra-red port and a slot for the stylus. The 2 card slots are I/O capable, meaning they support various kinds of SD & CF card gadgets like GPS cards, wireless cards Wifi & Bluetooth etc apart from flash memory cards. The charging/data port is at the bottom of the PDA, it is enclosed in all metal and resists damage. It docks very easily into the docking station.
Features & options:
The Dell Axim X51v is loaded with features and options, it comes built-in wi-fi, Bluetooth, 2 I/O slots, large 256 MB ROM etc. Here is the in-depth feature list:
Processor: The Intel XScale PXA 270 processor @ 624 mhz is the fastest processor in the market and the Axim X51v has the distinction of being the first to use this processor. The processor supports variable speed to conserve energy. The Windows Mobile 5.0 supports auto speed selection depending on the need for processing power. The supported speeds are 204Mhz, 524Mhz and 620Mhz. The auto selection of clock speed sets the processor to 204Mhz always only changing to higher speeds as & when needed, thus conserves the battery. The 620Mhz is very fast and opens applications in very less time. When opening the normal applications like word, power point, excel etc there is no major difference between the X51 & X51v, but the difference is apparent when opening/running the more processor intensive applications like games, multimedia files etc. The 624Mhz processor coupled with the graphics accelerator with dedicated 16 MB makes a huge difference.
LCD display & Graphics: This is a strikingly great feature of the X51v. The screen is 3.7 inches and supports 480x640 maximum resolution. This is the highest available on a PDA to date. The 480x640 resolution offers acres of desktop space and more of the web pages are visible, and the same holds for pictures. The font size becomes very small and may not work for all and it can be changed to the 240x320 resolution. The pixels are extremely small, and the colors are very rich and it is a pleasure watching videos & pictures. The Intel 2700G multimedia accelerator with dedicated 16MB video memory is a Wow!! The video quality is improved and seamless. It supports both landscape & portrait mode, allowing more visibility for documents & web pages. The LCD display is great, but it lacks on the contrast ratio front, there was no information on the contrast ratio in the specs. I know, this is too much to expect from a tiny screen on a PDA, but I guess contrast ratio would feature in the specs of future models as the displays get better & better. Dont get me wrong, the display is by far the best compared to any brand/model available in the market, I am just hard to please.
Connectivity: Having both Wi-fi & Bluetooth built-in is very nice. I had no problem connecting to my home wireless network, it was very simple and did not take long to set it up. I read a few reviews that Windows Mobile 5.0 handles Wi-Fi connectivity very poorly; but I think it was simple and had no problem with it. A green status LED blinks when Wi-fi is connected. The Bluetooth connectivity is cool, though it requires certain amount of tweaking for it work, and it is a bit of a pain (blame windows). But once setup, it works like a charm. A blue status LED blinks when Bluetooth is ON. This LED alternates between green & blue when both wifi & Bluetooth are powered ON. The dedicated switch to power ON/OFF the wireless connectivity is nice to have, instead of going through menus. The switch either turns both Wifi and Bluetooth off, but when switching on, you can control which one switches on buy disabling either one of them. The Infra-Red port is the standard type, very useful for beaming contacts, appointments or anything to other infra-red enabled devices.
Memory: It comes with 64MB RAM and 256MB ROM. The ROM is twice that offered by the X51. The OS takes up 15MB of RAM and 60MB of ROM and the remaining RAM is left for program execution. The remaining ~ 194MB of ROM is sufficient for adding more programs & storing files. Apart from the built-in ROM, there are 2 slots for SD & CF media which can be used to add more space for documents, videos, pictures, mp3s and more programs. I use a A-datas 4 GB SD card @ 150X speed ( http://www.epinions.com/content_235320479364 ) and that is more space than I need, at least for now.
Ports and expansion slots: There are 2 card slots, one each for SD card & CF Type I & II cards. Both are I/O capable, so apart from being used for extra memory, they are capable of accommodating SD or CF based GPS modules, PCMCIA adaptors etc. The dells website lists 512MB, 1GB & 2GB as supported SD card sizes, but I was able to use a 4 GB SD card without an issue. There is an Infra-red port. IR port is standard for all PDAs. The 3.5mm headphone/headset jack is good to listen to the music. The volume from the built in speaker is very low, but hey, cant expect anything more than that from a PDA. The Mic is very sensitive and picks up sounds from distances up to 1 meter. The gain can be changed at the OS level. The record function is easy with the dedicated button on the side. The charge/data port at the bottom is well made and is surrounded by a metal and resists damage. It can be docked very easily.
Battery life: There are 2 options for the battery, the standard 1100 mAh rechargeable Li-ion Battery and the optional extended life is a 2200 mAh battery. The standard battery fits into the form of the PDA, the extended battery protrudes out and needs its own battery cover to accommodate it and also it adds to the weight of the PDA. Here are some tests I ran:
Conditions: Processor - auto mode & brightness medium, Battery 1100 mAh
Continuous MP3 playback - 5:40 hrs
3D Gaming - 4:25 hrs
Standby (~ 45 mts usage) more than 2 days and still going at 18% left (surprising! Got to test it again)
The battery life is only OK and not stellar by any standards, it is way less than other brands. The battery life should be much better with the 2200 mAh battery, though I did not get to test it. But it does add another ~ 5mm to the size. The processor is set to auto mode, and while playing MP3s it was constantly working @ 204Mhz. Also, the data is safe if the battery is replaced within 5 mts, otherwise you loose it.
Warranty: The standard warranty is 1 year advance exchange. There is a option of adding 2 more years of warranty. Advance exchange means, per dells website In the event you have a warranty issue (problem) with your Dell Axim that cannot be resolved over the phone, we will ship you a replacement unit the next business day. Synchronize your new unit, ship back the defective unit. This is nice, no long downtimes for repairs. Also there is a complete care package in which damage to the PDA by water, drops etc is also covered.
Windows Mobile 5.0:
Windows has come a long way from Windows CE. Older versions were referred to as Pocket PC but the new Windows Mobile 5.0 has done away with pocket PC nametag. Being the newest version of OS it is feature rich and has a lot of improvements from the older versions. This version supports the persistent memory, allowing the data to be safe in spite of complete loss of power. It also supports display resolutions above 240x320, taking advantage of the X51vs 480x640 resolution. It also supports optimal usage of the processors variable clock speed, translating into more efficient battery usage. The windows Media Player 10.0 mobile is feature rich and very easy to use and starts up fast. There are tons of third party tools/programs for Windows Mobile 5.0. Having said that, there are a few bugs that need to fixed, Active Sync does not allow manual conflict resolution, meaning, conflicting entries are replaced what takes precedence is left to guess, but I will test this & update the review later. With my older 524Mhz X51, the OS felt slower, but with the X51vs 624Mhz processor, it is seems to be fine.
1. Flash memory (SD or CF) to store more files and install more programs
2. Hard/soft case to avoid damage and store extra battery, memory cards etc
3. Screen protector, this is a good idea; helps protect the delicate screen and prevents scratching.
PDA buying guide:
1. PDA being a fairly long-term investment, it is a good idea to get the latest & greatest. Getting the fastest processor available means, you are set to upgrade to newer processor intensive OSs in the future, run the ever-increasing processor hungry programs and tools in the future.
2. When buying anything from Dell, including PDA, always look for coupons online, you can get substantial savings. Also, on most days there are discounts up to 25% off, bringing the cost of the best PDA close to the lower-end PDAs.
3. Protect your PDA with the best warranty you can afford. Complete Care (dell specific) replaces/repairs most damages including LCD break, water damage etc. PDAs being small are easy to damage. Unlike Laptops, they dont come with protective enclosures and have the LCD screen exposed.
4. Before buying a Dell PDA, look for Dell stores in local malls and try it before buying it online.
The Dell Axim X51v makes a best buy because of its distinctive features like, sporting the fastest Xscale processor, the best in class VGA screen with accelerated graphics, 256 MB ROM, being highly expandable with SD & CF I/O slots and wifi & Bluetooth enabled. Its small size, good design and dells discounted and affordable prices make it the best bang for the buck. The only qualm being the sub par battery life, but with so many pros outweighing the con, it makes a highly recommended PDA