Dell Axim X50 review: Dell Axim X50

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A user-replaceable battery keeps the party going and going.

Like the latest crop of PDAs, the X50 comes loaded with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, which supports Landscape mode--a boon if you're keen on flashing photos, surfing the Web, or working on spreadsheets. There's also a companion CD with demo versions of programs such as Cash Organizer 2003, Full Hand Casino, and McAfee VirusScan PDA.

Editors' note: Due to time constraints with the product launch, we were able to run only one battery test instead of our standard three. We will continue testing the product and update as soon as we get the results.

From a performance point of view, the Dell Axim X50 fell short of the high-end X30, but keep in mind that it sports a 520MHz processor compared to the X30's 624MHz chip. That said, the X50 was about 15 percent slower than the X30 in CNET Labs' tests. Numbers don't tell the whole story, though, as the X50 is still a very fast Pocket PC, and the average user will be hard-pressed to discern any difference in performance between the two models.

While the X50 offers great video performance, the magic was somewhat lost on the X50's QVGA screen. It's a fine screen and was readable in sunlight, but after using the VGA displays on the Asus MyPal A730 and the HP iPaq hx4700 , we were left yearning for the new 3D graphical touches and crisper images. Then again, if you like what the X50 has to offer and desire a VGA screen, you can always go with the X50v.

On the other hand, the Axim X50's wireless connections were excellent. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth worked flawlessly in our tests. We were able to easily connect to our test access points and had excellent range. Again, you can use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at the same time, but just be aware that this can quickly drain battery life.

Speaking of battery, the X50 comes with one main cell and one internal backup battery. In our drain tests, where we looped a video clip with the backlight and volume set to high and all wireless connections turned off, the main battery lasted almost 5 hours (see editors' note above), a very impressive score and a significant improvement from the X30 series. Still, it fell several hours short of some of the new iPaqs, including HP's multimedia PDA, the rx3715 . As our drain test was designed to zap the battery as fast as possible, you will probably get more mileage in real-world usage.

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.

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