Holiday Buyer's Guide 2005

PDAs From Dell

We have two personal digital assistants (PDAs) to offer for your holiday shopping needs; the first comes from Dell.

Dell's AXIM X51v PDA handheld has earned its share of bragging rights. Once you possess one, you'll quickly understand why it's such a techno-goodie. Chief among its many features, the X51v carries the distinction of being Dell's first certifiably lead-free product. This helps Dell Computer market this device in Europe, where restrictions apply to all imported electronic devices. In fact, Dell went one step further and included built-in flash memory to avoid the potential for data loss when the battery runs down. The X51v also boasts the most powerful processor in its class, provides a myriad of input/output subsystems, and offers a much improved feature set as compared to its predecessors. You are looking at that feature set here, aren't you?

Under the hood, the X51v uses Intel's 624 MHz XScale PXA270 embedded mobile processor, with its trademarked Wireless MMX (WMMX) technology, and supports the latest enhanced mobile multimedia communications. This makes a nice foundation for Microsoft's Windows Mobile version 5.0 (WM5), which drives this device. All necessary operating system functionality and auxiliary applications reside within a 256 MB Intel StrataFlash ROM onboard. 64 MB of SDRAM is also available for temporary workspace while the unit runs.

The X51v includes Intel's flagship mobile image processing unit, the Marathon 2700G graphics accelerator, with 16 MB of video RAM onboard . When working with its 3.7" TFT, touch-sensitive, transflective color LCD, the X51v delivers luminosity that responds to ambient light conditions, with 480x640 resolution and 16 bit color. Display rendering and redraws are crisp, and icons and menus load quickly. You can even set the display to landscape mode for greater readability when working with lengthy documents or long lines of text. Dell's optional VGA presentation bundle provides VGA-out for end-users who need to export presentations or multimedia clips.

The X51v also features an AC-97 compliant codec driven by a WM9705 sound chip, which delivers 16 bit stereo at 8.0, 11.025, 22.05, and 44.1 KHz sampling rates. It offers full-duplex audio recording and playback. Internally, the the X51v contains a single monaural speaker for sound output; a 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo-out jack drives earbuds or headsets.

Other interesting add-ons include a built-in Bluetooth adapter, native 802.11b wireless, consumer IrDA control, and CF Type II and SD I/O expansion slots. Notably, the AXIM X51v provides a much-sought-after PDA function: one-handed navigation, or the ability to operate freely without using the touch screen. Six remappable navigational buttons, akin to 'soft keys' like those found on Windows Smartphones, reside just beneath the screen, and correspond to context-sensitive commands that may activated by tapping on them or pressing an associated hardware button.

A USB crade is bundled with the unit, featuring a slot for charging a second, optional 2200mAh Li-Ion battery for extended use with less-frequent recharge cycles. Also included is Dell's protective microfiber slip case, and a standard 3.7V, 1100mAh Li-Ion battery cell. All this comes in a lightweight (6.06 oz / 172 g) package that fits comfortably in the hand with neither the size nor heft typical of other handhelds. Its stylish matte black finish with satin silver trim also exudes high-tech class.

At $426 and up, this is a pretty pricey stocking stuffer. Still,you'd be hard-pressed to find something else for yourself or a loved one that combines this much class, capability, and nerd-chic all in one itty bitty package.

Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.