Dell Axim X50 review:

Dell Axim X50

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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Windows Media Player 10.0 Mobile; fast processor and ample memory; integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; sleek design; user-replaceable battery.

The Bad Heavy; small navigation toggle; lackluster software bundle.

The Bottom Line Solid performance and advanced multimedia capabilities make the Dell Axim X50 a suitable PDA for both serious and more casual users.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0


Dell hit a grand slam with its X30 series, offering consumers and professionals a well-connected and powerful PDA at an affordable price. With the X50 series, the Texas-based company has a new team of pumped-up players stepping up to the plate. In the middle of the lineup is the X50, which sports a 520MHz processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the newest trick in the playbook, Windows Media Player 10.0 Mobile. At $399, it's a suitable PDA for business users as well as gadget hounds, but if you're looking for even more muscle, check out the X50v, which sports a VGA screen, a more powerful graphics accelerator, and a gaming bundle for $499. Those who want to keep it simple and don't need all the speed or Wi-Fi, should check out the $299 entry-level X50. With the Axim X50, Dell introduces a kinder and gentler design to its PDAs. We weren't a big fan of the X30's squarish edges, which gave it a drab and utilitarian look, so we welcome the X50's smoother, rounded edges and attractive silver and black casing. At 0.6 by 4.7 by 2.9 inches and 6.1 ounces, the Dell Axim X50 is slightly bigger and heavier than its predecessor, the X30, and the HP iPaq rx3715. As a trade-off, the X50 is solidly built, and the rubberized sides make for a comfortable and solid grip.

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Smooth operator: The X50 sports a more stylish design than the X30.

Taking center stage is the X50's 3.5-inch QVGA screen that displays 65,000 colors and a 240x480-pixel resolution. The four shortcut keys (Calendar, Contacts, Inbox, and Home) and the navigation toggle reside just below and, compared to the X30's, were quite diminutive. While this wasn't much of an issue with the shortcut keys, the smaller toggle proved trickier to navigate, especially for those with bigger digits, and we often pressed the center Select button by mistake.

The left side of the PDA gives you access to a host of goodies. There's a lanyard hook, a lock switch, a wireless on/off button, and a voice-record button. The one-touch access to wireless connectivity is a particularly nice convenience since you don't have to fish through the Settings menu to turn on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The top of the device houses a 3.5mm headphone/headset jack that accepts Walkman-style 'phones and supports VoIP and voice-recognition apps; the stylus holder; and dual CompactFlash and SD expansion slots. Also, there's a standard sync/cradle connector on the bottom of the device. Give the X50 a twirl, and on the back, you'll find a battery-lock switch that enables the user to swap out the 1,100mAh battery, a Reset button, and two rubber grips to prevent your handheld from slipping.

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Spare parts: The included desktop cradle has a slot to charge up an extra battery.

There aren't too many extras in the box, but you get a desktop sync cradle, a travel charger, and a protective case. We were disappointed that a protective case isn't included. As mentioned earlier, the X50 has a user-replaceable battery; if you're a road warrior, you might want to invest in Dell's 2,200mAh extended cell for $99.

A check under the Dell Axim X50's hood shows a well-equipped handheld. There's an Intel 520MHz XScale PXA270 processor that, like any chip in this family, features SpeedStep and Wireless MMX technology to optimize battery life. Memory is ample, with 128MB of flash ROM and 64MB of SDRAM (145MB of which are user-accessible). If that's not enough, the dual CompactFlash and SD expansion slots should do the trick.

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With dual expansion slots and WMP 10.0 Mobile, the X50 is here to entertain you.

The expansion options are particularly attractive since the X50 is the first Pocket PC to offer Windows Media Player (WMP) 10.0 Mobile. What does this mean for you? In short, it's a better multimedia experience. Aside from being able to carry your favorite WMA, MP3, and WMV music files on your handheld, you now can get album art with the accompanying song. Also, Windows Media Digital Rights Management 10.0 gives you access to audio and video content from subscription services such as Musicmatch and CinemaNow. Like to show off photos and videos? You can do that too with WMP 10.0. While this is all very entertaining, proceed with caution, as playing music and watching video takes up a lot of battery power. Unlike the X50v, this model does not include the gaming bundle, although it has Solitaire and Jawbreaker.

Wireless connection comes in the form of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which can be used simultaneously. The X50 ships with a WLAN utility that shows signal strength, encryption options, certificate enrollment for advanced Wi-Fi authentication, and more. Bluetooth also opens the doors to communication with other devices, allowing users to do even more with the X50. For instance, paired with Dell's GPS receiver ($249), you can use the X50 as a navigation device or to connect to a Bluetooth keyboard, such as the Think Outside Stowaway, for more productivity.

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