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 base model features a faster 312MHz processor and 32MB of memory. It lacks Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but its affordable $199 price tag should appeal to budget-conscious consumers. If you're a business user who needs wireless connectivity and powerful performance, Dell also offers two step-up models that support those features and have double the memory: the midlevel X30 with its 312MHz processor and the with a zippy 624MHz processor.
Upside: The X30 not only benefits from a faster engine speed, the new Intel PXA270 processors also feature technology that dynamically adjusts power to optimize battery performance. Additionally, we like the user-replaceable battery. Also onboard is the latest Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which, among other attributes, adds landscape-view support, Wi-Fi-protected access, and a shortcut in the Start menu to recent programs.
Downside: Without Wi-Fi capabilities, the real benefits of Windows Mobile 2003 SE are lost on this model. You can add wireless connectivity through the SDIO slot and a Wi-Fi card, but it'll cost you an extra $100. In that case, you should upgrade to the next model, which is only $50 more (after rebate) and comes with both technologies built in.
Outlook: If you're looking for a basic PDA and don't have a lot of cash, the entry-level Dell Axim X30 fits the mold. Though the new model and the Toshiba e355 share a similar price tag and feature set, the new processor gives the Dell an edge over the competition. However, if you want more bang for your buck, the midlevel X30 is the way to go. Check back soon for a full review.