Burney's Legal Tech Reviews - Burney's Gadgets for Legal Pros: The Dell Axim X30 Pocket PC

Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com's Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal technology questions.

Everyone knows Dell for their computers, but their name is successfully bleeding into other markets like digital music players and Pocket PC PDAs (personal digital assistants). The Dell Axim X30 is the latest generation of Pocket PCs from the computer behemoth, and they have delivered a functional and affordable product.

Pardon My Axim

The Dell Axim X30 is offered in three models, all of which run the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition operating system. The basic model does not come with built-in wi-fi, but it does offer a speedy processor that runs at 312 MHz. The top model ups the speed to a blazing 624 MHz processor and comes complete with built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth. The middle model is a happy medium – you get a 312 MHz processor with wi-fi and Bluetooth.

All three Axim X30 models look exactly the same, except that the two wi-fi models have a small numb of an antenna that sticks out of the top of the unit. The Axim’s sort of have a boxy, squarish shape to them, but they are surprisingly lightweight and thin, which makes them easy to carry. The buttons on all three models are very well laid out with a rocker wheel on the left side of each.

The model I received to review was the “middle” model – the processor ran at 312 MHz but I was lucky to play with wi-fi and Bluetooth. I was a fan of the older Dell Pocket PC products, and I continue to be impressed with the Axim X30. Dell provides an easy-to-follow instructional poster and booklet that walks you through the initial setup of the unit. Once I popped in the battery and fired it up, I was literally surfing on the device in a few minutes. The internal wi-fi was great, and the wireless software that Dell provides with their devices makes it easy to set up your wireless access.

Portrait or Landscape

As mentioned above, all three Dell Axim’s run the Second Edition of Windows Mobile 2003. One of the biggest improvements Microsoft put into this particular edition of Windows Mobile is that you can switch the screen from portrait to landscape. This really comes in helpful when you’re surfing Web pages on the Axim and you would prefer to see a wider view.

By default, the only way you can change the screen orientation is to go into the Settings section. However, I was able to program one of the buttons on the front of the Axim to switch between orientations when I pressed it. That way, I didn’t have to root around in the settings every time I wanted to switch back and forth.

I felt that Microsoft hit a home run with this functionality. I’ve long desired the ability to switch between views, and now it comes built-in.

Ssssssssmokin’!

I’ve used several Pocket PCs since the standard was introduced several years back, but I have never seen one respond as fast as the Dell Axim X30. Not that I expected anything less – these are some of the first Pocket PC models that use the speedier processors. But it was just a joy to use the unit since it was so responsive to my touch and commands. The pages even seemed to scroll smoother as I clicked up and down.

The newer processor easily handles the multi-tasking requirements of Windows Mobile, and it also better supports brighter resolutions. By all accounts, the processor should drain battery power a lot more, but I have been very impressed with the battery life on the Axim X30 that I’ve been using now for several weeks. I’ve never run out of juice, even when I neglected to charge it for a day or two.

If you are interested in purchasing a Pocket PC, you can’t go wrong with the Axim X30 from Dell. The price is right and you get a good bang for your buck. Not to mention that you can enjoy the wonders of wi-fi if you spring for the middle or top model.