Dell X50v Reviews

Dell X50v

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The Pixels! The Pixels!

May 15, 2005 (Updated Nov 29, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Best bang for your buck. Fast, outstanding screen, no button issues, dual wireless, dual cards.

Cons:Short battery life. Aftermarket accessories are harder to find.

The Bottom Line: More pixels and more power for the best bang for your buck.


Update: Windows Mobile 5.0 (that would be the new operating system, for those out of the loop) has at long last shipped. And verily does it stink. Read the updated section below for more details.

Okay, so my current PocketPC isn't an HP Ipaq h2410. So, you say, what the devil is it?

One of these things.

We've got built in WiFi and Bluetooth. We have both CompactFlash and SecureDigital slots. We have the fastest currently available handheld processor. We have a dedicated graphics accelerator with 16 megs of its very own RAM. We have that attached to a 640x480 screen. And I scored mine with a case and spare battery for $429.06. That's 21 dollars less than I paid for that ill-fated Ipaq. And, most probably, you can do the same.

So.

The Dell x50v is a PocketPC. A very nice, high end PocketPC. Dell's all singing, all dancing flagship model, at the moment. But before I start picking apart the question of weather or not it's a good product, I'll pick apart the question of weather or not the x50v is the nice (and expensive) high end PocketPC is what you really want.

Foremost: A PocketPC is not an organizer. Microsoft has gone through various orbits drawing nearer and farther away from the position of personal information manager (PIM) with its mobile operating system at various times, but as it stands PIM functionality comes second and general computer functionality comes first – That is, graphics, multimedia, web browsing, programmability, and so on. If what you are looking for is purely an organizer – Somewhere to keep your phone numbers and calendar and so on the x50v – Or any PocketPC – Isn't going to be the most economical or easy to use solution.

If what you want is a very small general purpose computer for multimedia, web browsing, and other performance intensive things, the x50v excels. However, this machine is just about the current bleeding edge of the market – This is a high performance, easy on the frills machine for geeks, tweakers, and performance nuts. If you want a basic PocketPC for some multimedia use (photos, music, and so on) and otherwise just web browsing and word processing and so on there are again more economical machines out there. And likely said machines will get better battery life and possibly have more accessories available for them out of the gate, though not necessarily with the x50v's high resolution display, video performance, dual slots, dual wireless, and so on. If this sounds like your bill, any number of lower end devices may suit you like HP "mobile media companion" line. If built in wireless is a must for you, Dell's very own x30 may be a more sensible buy.

But, if you're like me and you want the best of the best: The fastest machine, the biggest, highest resolution display, dual slots, dual wireless, and a place to bolt your chrome pipes to – If your priorities are games and video first, damn the torpedoes, the x50v may very well be your man. And, as I will repeatedly make note, at a considerably lower cost than current top-of-the-line models from HP and Asus.

The main problem with buying this machine – Or anything like it, for that matter – Is that you can only do so mail order. Thus, there's no way to get a sample into your hands unless you want to buy one, test it, and then eat the restock fee if you don't like it and send it back. So, you can rest assured I did my homework before putting down the bucks for a handheld sight unseen. Presumably, that's what you're trying to do, too.

Dell is always running some kind of promotion. Seriously. The details may change with the tides, but there is always some sort of sale, promo, discount, coupon code, or some weaseling you can do to get an x50v for less than Dell's list price. When I bought mine the deal was "30% off all home user handheld orders". Sometimes it's 20%. Sometimes it's 25%. Sometimes it's all models, sometimes its just the x50v, sometimes it's a rebate, sometimes it's free accessories along with it...

So, if you wait for what you think is the right chance to strike you can get a pretty good bargain, and often you walk away with an x50v for a few bucks less than buying a medium spec handheld at your local brick-and-mortar computer shop. This is what I did, and I got my Dell for $429.06, complete with a hard case, the 3d games bundle, and a spare battery. Will you do exactly the same? Probably not. But you can get pretty close, and some indeterminate point down the road you may pay less than I did. Go figure.

Dell has, at long last, abandoned the Soviet school of handheld design. No more bricks. 4 5/8 x 2 7/8" The x50 is only a little longer and not noticeably thicker than my old HP 2215. It's a damn sight smaller than HP's own 4705 – Considerably shorter, for a start, and narrower besides. In stock form, it's pocketable. With the Rhinoskin aluminum case I ordered with it it's only a quarter inch larger all around at the maximum, which is a price I'm more than willing to pay for the added protection. There are certainly smaller, thinner, and lighter PocketPC's out there – But none of them coming even close to matching the performance and hardware that's packed into the x50v. I consider it 'shirt pocketable', if that accounts for anything.

The size comes at the cost of battery life. The x50v has only an 1100 mah battery, which is only good for running the machine for 2.5 – 3.5 hours (depending, of course, on what you're doing with it). This is, no matter how you slice it, pretty miserable. Most of the x50v's competition is good for 4, 5, or 6 hours a go, which is the only real weak point this machine has. An extended 2200 mah battery is available for a few bucks more, but it is physically larger (twice as thick, incidentally) and has to be used with a special battery door that adds a sixteenth-odd inch to the thickness of the bottom of the unit. This isn't a big deal in itself, but it has the side effect of causing various cases (including the Rhinoskin one) not to fit anymore.

So it goes.

My order included a spare standard capacity battery for free, though. There's a slot in the back of the included cradle where you can charge it outside the machine, so in a worst case scenario I could pack both batteries and double my runtime. Realistically, the short battery life is going to come into play only for long-term gaming or web surfing. Most users' duty cycles involve a lot of on again, off again short bursts of use – Checking phone numbers and schedules, pulling some quick info off the web, checking mail, and so on. You can stretch some more time out of the battery if you're using the machine just as a music player, also, because power usage is cut dramatically if you've got the screen off and the processor speed turned down (which you can set it to do automatically, if you like).

Two to three hours is enough to watch a movie, do as much game playing as I generally plan to do in a day, or do all of my on-the-road web surfing in a 24 hours period, so I can live with it. People run quite high end laptops that can't even run that long and live with it. If you've been spoiled by a PDA with an exceptionally long runtime in the past (Palm 3, anyone?) you'll probably hate it. Me? I can pack a spare battery and live with it. It's your call.

This, however, is just a little blur on the edge of the overall picture. The first thing that you'll notice when you turn on the x50v is the screen. If you're like me, you'll be struck with the sudden urge to say something like "phowar".

The x50v's screen only measures 3 3/4" diagonally, but it's a full 480x640. That makes for some danged tiny pixels. I am pleased to report that mine has no bad pixels whatsoever, but even if it did they'd be so blasted tiny you'd never spot them unless you purposefully went looking. Because of this unique feature, the screen is the worthy basis of another tangent.

Microsoft's latest (currently released) handheld operating system is the somewhat unfortunately named Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (Microsoft doesn't want us calling it 'PocketPC' anymore, that's passé). One of the main features of this version of the OS is its support of screens other than the old 240x320 – This includes the x50v's monster screen (the machine runs 2003SE as a matter of consequence, basically), and as an added bonus supports rotation and scaling of the screen, too. You can switch the x50v to landscape mode (sideways, with a screen wider than it is tall) in either direction, or even display upside down if you like.

I find, however, that in stock form the operating system handles the high resolution screen in a very stupid manner. Instead of using that multitude of tiny, beautiful pixels to display more information on the screen, you get the same effective screen real estate as a machine with one of the old 240x320 displays, but with a higher overall resolution – Using twice and many pixels to display data at the same size.

That strikes me as pretty pointless, because the main shortcoming of the handhelds of yesteryear was their inability to display large amounts of information. Life in the 240x320 world was rather akin to trying to look at the Mona Lisa through an aperture the size of a postage stamp. A giant, high resolution display like the x50v's presents the perfect potential solution, and Microsoft decided not to utilize it.

Go figure.

The good news is there are multiple third party programs that will do exactly what I've described – Turn your big, sharp magnified display into one that will display at zero magnification, which means smaller text and icons but four times as much of whatever you're looking at on the screen at once.

If you're hard of eyesight this is probably a bad idea. But if you'd like to work on a spreadsheet without it degrading into a scrollathon you'll love it. My personal favorite application for this called ozVGA. It's free, small, and does precisely what I think it should do – In addition to allowing you to switch back to the stock display mode, should you have to. Dropping your x50v into full resolution mode turns the usual cramped experience of a PocketPC display into a beautiful (if tiny) screen that rivals desktop displays in terms of brightness, sharpness, and detail. Again, that's the way I like it. If you need a magnifying glass to read your screen after you do it... Well, different strokes, eh?

The x50v has the usual center mounted 4 way directional button flanked by two application buttons on either side. There's a button in the center of the directional button you can press, as is the norm, and the application buttons can be remapped to launch whatever programs you like. There are two more buttons on the left edge, and by default the top one turns the built in wireless on and off and the bottom one starts the Notes application and begins recording through the built in mike. This is handy for dictation, but it's something I never do. So, if you're of a mind, you can remap both of these buttons to do whatever you like, as well. Above this there is a unique little feature: A lock switch, which when clicked upwards disables all the buttons, including power, and the touch screen. This will prevent buttons from getting pressed while the machine is bouncing around in your pocket, say, or keep people (or even yourself) from monkeying with your touch screen should you have to leave your handheld doing something unattended.

The headphone jack is on the top, as is the tiny little IR port and microphone, and one each of an SD / MMC memory cart slot and a CompactFlash type I / II slot. Both slots are I/O capable, which means you can use various SD and CF gizmoes that aren't plain memory cards: Barcode scanners, exotic wireless cards, PCMCIA adapters, GPS units, and so on. Lamentably, nobody's built a PocketPC with anything matching the Audiovox Maestro's hinged card cover – The x50v has the usual dummy SD card as a placeholder in its slot, and a proprietary slot filler for the empty CF bay, both of which you'll have to keep somewhere if you decide to use cards.

Also, I had a devil of a time finding it, but the machine's speaker is mounted inside the directional button - Not that it matters much.

I have similar complaint about the x50's stylus as I do my ill fated 2415's – That is, it's too small, too short, and too light. What's better news, however, is that it's easier to remove from the silo at the top right, and can be extracted (if you're suitably nimble) with one hand. It's made of aluminum, and has a plastic tip. You only get one, unfortunately, but replacements are available.

Inside the aforementioned shell there's one of Intel's latest and greatest – A PXA 270 Xscale processor with a maximum clock speed of 624 mhz. I say 'maximum' because by default the processor will automatically adjust itself to match the current type of usage to save power – Sit there and look at a blank page and it'll throttle back to 204 (less, if you have the latest ROM update installed – See the 'Rom Versions' tangent below). Start playing games or watching processor intensive video and it'll clock itself up to 520 or 624 on the fly. This is coupled with a built in Intel 2700G video accelerator with 16 megabytes of dedicated RAM, which if properly utilized on the software end enables the x50v to play back hardware accelerated video or even run 3d accelerated games. The upshot of this is that the x50v has the potential to be very, very fast and do things that until recently it's been nigh impossible for a PocketPC do to – Things like full speed SNES emulation, or playback of high bitrate Divx and MPEG4 video.

The x50v's only got 64 megabytes of RAM, which is weakness #2. Lots of the higher end machines have 128 built in these days, but I don't consider it that big of a deal. Memory cards are cheap (in addition to nonvolatile – PocketPC's use part of their RAM as a 'hard drive' and the rest for traditional temporary memory tasks), and it's easy to keep your things on them instead. It does have a generous 128 megabytes of flash ROM, however, in which the operating system itself resides. The remainder of this can be used as nonvolatile storage for your applications and files, if you like, sort of like a built in memory card. With the A03 ROM update installed (again, see the 'ROM Versions' tangent) there's 91.43 megs of space in there to play with. If and when the WM2005 update rolls around the new OS may eat up some of it (this is another tangent, 'OS Versions').

Beneath the hardware, most PocketPC's are quite similar. The OS includes the usual spread of pocket versions of Microsoft Word and Excel, MSN Messenger, Windows Media Player and so forth, as well as midget versions of Outlook and Internet Explorer - Most of which have remained unchanged save a few little interface tweaks since the days of the original PocketPC 2000. Dell bundles a few little tidbits of their own into the ROM, including an Odyssey Wireless Client (for connecting to exotic wireless networks), a Backup utility (for backing up your machine to a memory card), and an application called 'Switcher Bar', which is a basic task manager (in the 'running processes' sense, not the 'to do list' sense). There is, of course, the standard assortment of Calendar, Tasks, Contacts (address book) and so forth as well.

Most of the PocketPC operating systems', ah... characterful traits remain unchanged in this new version. The X button doesn't actually close programs (though Dell's switcher bar does), Pocket Internet Explorer still sucks and still implodes when it meets javascripting it doesn't like, the network connection configuration screens are still minimalist and a little confusing, and the Wireless Zero Configuration system is still a royal pain. But most of these messes Microsoft left behind can be neatly cleaned up by a wide array of third party software (most of which is free, to boot), so while I can still complain about it I've moved beyond the point of letting it bother me. Whenever I get a new PocketPC it's standard operating procedure to drop Resco File Explorer, Magic Button (a taskbar replacement), Zapit!, and a few other freeware odds and ends on the machine before I even start using it.

Cest la vie.

The things that are pleasing to me here are things like the absence of button press issues found on recent Ipaqs and the lack of graphical glitches that plague the same, as well as little details like the built in wireless working properly out of the box (compatible with third party applications, to boot!) and the Bluetooth working like it's supposed to.

As it stands, the x50v is, in my opinion, the best PocketPC currently on the market for gaming and multimedia. The directional button is good, button presses are responsive, and there are no button press issues. It has the processor power to handle video and multimedia, and a graphics accelerator to back it up (which is already supported by some third party applications, Betaplayer in particular) and an outstanding screen to display it on.

The fact of the matter is there's no perfect PocketPC for everyone. I've heard many people lament the x50's lack of a scroll wheel and it's battery life. Again, I've heard different complaints for different reasons regarding other machines. So, when you get right down to it, the best strategy is to figure out what you really want out of your PocketPC and go from there instead of playing the pointless bickering game of trying to figure out which is the 'best'.

Me? I like my x50v, and I don't foresee giving it up anytime soon. So it works for me, and it may work for you. And if it does, it's a great machine. Recommended.

What's that you say? Tangents?

Tangent: ROM Versions

To date there are four known ROM versions (counting the English versions, anyway) for the Axim x50v. They are intuitively titled A00, A01, A02, and A03. A00 is the first, and very few (if any) machines were actually sold with that ROM installed. A01 was the initial retail ROM version, and since then A02 and very lately A03 have been released. Each contains incremental bugfixes, improvements, and so forth. Most x50v's shipping at the time of writing come with the A02 ROM installed, and it may behoove users to install the latest, A03. According to Dell, this is what the A03 updates is supposed to do:

1. Improved the compatibility with certain CF cards – I am unsure of the implications of this, as I've never had a problem.
2. Improved the power management within the CompactFlash driver – Presumably lower idle power consumption, which should mean a small increase in battery life. This is good news.
3. Improved the WLAN driver for the unrecognized card issue – This was a known bug with previous versions, and while a soft reset fixed it, the problem was annoying.
4. Improved Bluetooth memory management – This fixes the "not enough memory to enable Bluetooth" bug. At least, it has for me.
5. Enhanced the processor speed scheme (Auto) for better balance between performance and battery life – Based on my observations, this makes the automatic speed control more "aggressive". It will switch to a lower speed more readily, and can now clock down to a lower speed than before.
6. Improved the compatibility of Bluetooth FTP – I have no information on this.
7. Make the wireless button driver more robust – Minor user interface tweak, you now press the wireless button twice to turn the wireless on or off, with a five second timeout. Helps prevent accidental enablings and disablings.
8. Improved the compatibility of Switcher Bar application – Again, I have no information on this.
9. Enhanced the compatibility of Data Backup utility – No information again.
10. Enhanced the WEP key security
11. Updated the Funk Odyssey client
12. Improved the frequency change mechanism of 2700G – I have no real information on this, but I assume it has to do with the graphics accelerator's power consumption.
13. Fixed issue when pausing live streaming video – Windows Media Player is full of bugs anyway.
14. Updated 2700G display driver – This is another good one, and fixed fatal problems with some of my older games and emulators.

This is verbatim from Dell's site, with my own comments added.

Updating the ROM is a fairly simple procedure, but a potentially fatal one should you disconnect your handheld from power or your desktop while the update is in progress. So, while I strongly recommend updating, do be careful not to bork your new machine.

This leads us to tangent number two, namely...

Tangent: Operating System Versions

Microsoft apparently has a problem. I'll liken it to corporate ADD – They absolutely can't stop fidgeting around with their mobile operating systems.

In the beginning, there was Windows CE. Windows CE was Microsoft's answer to Psion; It was a self contained, Windows-like operating system designed to be used in embedded systems and small palmtop computers whilst more or less mimicking the look and feel of Windows 95 (albeit in monochrome, initially). Windows CE was a nifty little OS that supported PCMCIA, touch screens, sported some good built in software copying that of desktop Windows. Later there was CE 2.0, which added color support and some other tidbits, and all was well.

"So," Said some hack at Microsoft several years later, "Palm is beating us out with their quirky little no-keyboard touchscreen PDA's. We need to copy off of them somehow."

Well, okay. That's probably not historically accurate, but that's certainly how I imagine it. Around and about 1999, Palm and their fabled Palm Pilots were quietly kicking Microsoft's collective butt at the PDA game. So, in the good old year 2000, Microsoft changed the name of Windows CE on the consumer level to "PocketPC" and released what was, under the skin, Windows CE 3.0 – And it all went downhill from there. Earlier Windows CE machines (called 'palm size PC's', until Palm sued Microsoft and they rescinded, settling on 'handheld PC') were usually clamshell units, like tiny laptops. They had little keyboards and usually sported a single (sometimes double) PCMCIA slot, and had letterboxed (commonly 640x240) screens that were either touch sensitive, included a laptop-esque pointing device, or both. The new PocketPC's looked more like Palm's handhelds, lacking keyboards but instead sporting directional buttons (usually – The early HP Jornadas lacked them) and three or four application buttons, and all data input was handled through the 240x320 touchscreen. The user interface was changed completely between Windows CE 2.0 and PocketPC, such to the point that the PocketPC OS no longer mimicked the desktop versions of Windows at all, save the Windows logo used as the icon for the start menu.

The trouble was (and still is) that Microsoft apparently forgot their thinking caps that morning, and many users lamented the fact that the new OS was, to varying degrees, irrevocably broken. Microsoft dropped the idea of programs residing in discrete windows, instead favoring programs that filled the whole screen, a 'page' at a time. The start menu was moved to the upper left, where it was claimed it was less likely to be covered by the user's stylus holding hand. This was good, but left no taskbar with which to switch to other open applications. Also, the round "X" button in the corner of every application did not actually close the program in question – Instead, it minimized it, hurling it to the bottom of the virtual stack displayed on the screen. If your memory got totally bogged the OS would finally close the least frequently used application for you. Microsoft calls this "smart minimizing", and despite the fact that absolutely everyone hates it (and in the face of thousands of complaints, and those are just the ones I've personally seen) they still use it to this day.

Microsoft, of course, wasn't about to be content with leaving things as they were. Two years later PocketPC 2002 hit the streets, again turning the handheld computing world on its ear. PocketPC 2002 was not only an operating system, but an ultimatum from Microsoft: In order to get a license for the OS, manufacturers had to use a certain hardware configuration. So, all PocketPC 2002 machines ran Intel ARM processors at 202 mhz, had a center mounted directional button with two application buttons on either side, and sported a transflective 240x320 16 bit color display. The aim of homogenization was noble, I suppose, but this left users of previous generations of machines out in the dust – Especially those with Sharp, Casio, and HP machines, which used MIPS and SH3 processors instead of ARM. Many incredulous users (myself included) found it just slightly fishy that the newly mandated processor type, button and screen layout, and system format were suspiciously identical to the machines that Compaq had been manufacturing previously, which leads one to the conclusion that yet again Compaq has, by throwing their weight around, employed their ineptitude to ruin things for everyone else.

Not that I'm bitter, mind you.

So, shortly after turning the toy box upside down and shaking it vigorously, Microsoft turned it on its side and shook it some more, releasing their next OS just a year later – They decided that calling it "PocketPC 2003" would be too easy (and maybe highlight precisely how silly these machine-gun OS changes were) so the new OS was branded "Windows Mobile 2003". The hardware restrictions were relaxed, though all the machines' processors still have to be ARM compatible, at the least. Most manufacturers switched to using Intel's then-new Xscale processor at varying clock speeds. Unfortunately, though the layout restrictions have been removed nobody has, to date, made a new PocketPC with a layout that's anything but more of the same, which is another sting to the heart of former Casio and Sharp users (again, myself included) who find the new D-pad-in-the-center layout clumsy and pointless. Windows Mobile 2003 changed very little in terms of bug fixes or robustness from the previous PocketPC 2002, but it did serve the purpose of being incompatible with a whole host of software from the PocketPC 2002 era, which got a great many people mighty ticked off indeed.

So, a year later, instead of the new OS that we were promised last year that was supposed to fix everything, Microsoft has released "Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition", which while actually containing some useful new features and fixes also does its best to ensure that if a particular legacy application wasn't broken by Windows Mobile 2003, it better well be with Second Edition.

The more useful traits of the Second Edition are the ones I've already outlined in the review – VGA support, screen rotation, Windows Media Player update, and so on.

Windows Mobile 2003 is where we stand now. But wait! There's more!

In the intervening weeks between the completion of my Ipaq 2415 review and this one, Microsoft officially released the launch dates of their latest handheld OS – You know, the one that 2003 Second Edition was supposed to be. The name's changed again. It's called Windows Mobile 5.0, of course.

Perhaps this has all been some sort of test bestowed on us by the Gods of Microsoft. Is Windows Mobile 5.0 our nirvana? Is it the answer that we have been seeking, and the reward for us faithful for putting up with this crap for the past five years?

Not a clue. I can't pass judgment until I see it. What I do know is that Dell has pledged to provide an upgrade to the new OS as soon as possible, which should effectively future-proof our x50v's – Or at least for a while. The upgrade is unlikely to be free, but I - As well as every other geek, nerd, and four-eyes in the western universe – Will be lining up to buy the upgrade and see if its worth all the hoo-hah. I'm sure to post the results here, when they come in. In the meantime, the threat of a new OS looming over us doesn't faze me or my recommendation for the x50v one bit.

Because, while I do a lot of Microsoft bashing on PocketPC that's only a little tongue-in-cheek, I wouldn't trade my PocketPC for anything. Ever since the fateful day that I got my grubby little mitts on my old Casio E-115 I've been hooked. To me, my PocketPCs (I have three, currently...) can do almost everything I need to do on the road, and right now my x50v is my main man.

With SpaceTime installed I have a graphing calculator that may as well have a little port on the side it can use to whiz on people's T-83's. I can surf the internet wirelessly or otherwise, or sniff out and hack people's WEPs to do so. I have an awesome MP3 player with a screen that puts Ipod Photo user's tails between their legs. I have a Gameboy. I have an NES. I have an SNES, for that matter, in a package that's smaller than an original SNES's controller. I've got a universal remote (with third party software – I miss my Nevo!), I've got a VNC terminal that I can stick in my shirt pocket, I've got a network diagnostic tool, I've got a computer that handles all my invoices and paperwork, I've got a text messenger (the free version of PocketPC AIM is still out there, and works with VGA!), and if I run Skype I've got a phone, too. And a damned expensive flashlight, if I wind up the backlight. The only thing I haven't figured out is where the corkscrew is.

And that's the beauty of it all.

Promised Update: As of a few weeks ago (and again, as of time of writing...) Dell and Microsoft have finally released the Windows Mobile 5.0 upgrade for the x50v to the public. This comes hand-in-hand with the release of the Axim x51v, which uses the same hardware as the x50v with the exception of more ROM (128 megs versus 64) and it has Windows Mobile 5.0 installed from the factory.

The upgrade, at the moment, is in the form of a CD that must be bought from Dell for the sum of forty dollars. There are (or rather were, and may be again) promotions bundling free copies of the upgrade with newly purchased x50v units (which, as I've banged on about for a bit, come from the factory with Windows Mobile 2003SE).

Verdict: It's not worth it. As a matter of fact, the upgrade is beyond 'not worth it'. It's a complete and utter clusterf*ck.

The transition between operating sytems it not a pretty one, and mirroring the case of the step between PocketPC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003 there are many under-the-hood changes that apparently render many applications totally unusable. The consensus is also held that WM 5.0 is positively riddled with bugs, including lockup issues, crashing, failure to properly power down (resulting in rapid battery drain), and other niggling issues.

There is currently no working true VGA support under WM 5.0 yet. Also, it's been reported that the generally excellent Bluetooth stack included with WM 2003SE has been replaced with a crippled (but license free) Microsoft version that lacks functionality and support for many, many devices that the 'old' operating system worked with flawlessly.

The major visible changes in WM 5.0 are twofold: Foremost, the interface has changed to parrot Microsoft's Smartphone OS, with the menu bar at the bottom of the screen replaced with to giant, finger pressable soft buttons. The reaction to this change has been mixed. Personally, I hate it. It elimites multiple menus and also one click button bars, instead burying everything in a cascading menu system. What used to take one tap in Pocket Word now takes three or four. What used to be a usable compromise between space and functionality is now a nightmare.

Earthshaking change #2 is the fact that under WM 5.0, RAM is no longer used to store data. Instead, your built in ROM (called "Built in Storage" under WM 2003SE) is used as a sort of mini 'hard drive', and the machine's RAM is used for the sole purpose of temporary memory for running programs, just like a desktop PC.

The upshot of this is the fact that your machine's battery can be completely drained and no data lost - It will have the same effect as a soft reboot. This comes at the expense of application performance, however. Everything has to be loaded from ROM, now, which is much slower than executing programs in RAM. The new structure also breaks many older applications and causes them to refuse to run or run improperly on the new OS.

At the moment, there is precious little software for the new OS and it is so riddled with bugs that I'm declaring it completely worthless. So worthless, in fact, that Dell released a WM 2003 'downgrade' under pressure to revert people's machines who have upgraded back to the old operating system.

That's where I suggest you stay. Don't waste your time or money with the OS 'upgrade'.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): $429.06
Recommended for: Gadget Lovers - Trendy and Hip

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Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series - . Memory: 8GB Single Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (8GBx1). Hard Drive: 1TB 5400 rpm SATA Hard Drive. Optical Drive: Tray load ...
Dell

$499.99

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Dell Inspiron 15V 15.6 HD i3531-1200BK Notebook PC - Intel Celeron N2830 Processor

Dell Inspiron 15V 15.6 HD i3531-1200BK Notebook PC - Intel Celeron N2830 Processor

Specifications: Processor - Intel Celeron Dual Core N2830 Processor Operating System - Windows 8.1, 64-bit Memory - 4GB Single Channel DDR3 1600MHz...
BuyDig.com

$259.99

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Dell Latitude E7240 BTX Laptop Computer - Windows 7

Dell Latitude E7240 BTX Laptop Computer - Windows 7

Dell Latitude E7240 Btx Laptop Computer- . Memory: 8GB (1x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3L Memory. Monitor: No External Monitor. Hard Drive: 256GB Mobility Solid St...
Dell Small Office

$1591.54

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Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series - . Memory: 8GB Single Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (8GBx1). Hard Drive: 1TB 5400 rpm SATA Hard Drive. Optical Drive: Tray load ...
Dell

$499.99

FREE Shipping
Dell Latitude BTX 3540 Laptop Computer - Windows 7

Dell Latitude BTX 3540 Laptop Computer - Windows 7

Dell Latitude Btx 3540 Laptop Computer- . Memory: 4GB (1x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3L Memory. Hard Drive: 2.5 in. 500GB SSD Hybrid. Optical Drive: 8X DVD+/-RW. ...
Dell Small Office

$669.00

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