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Dell Axim X50v Device Spotlight

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VGA: Compelling? Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:25 pm
Is the VGA really that compelling?

This question was in reference to getting the Dell Axim X50 or the Dell Axim X50v. For those who do not know, the X50 has a 320x240 (QVGA) screen while the X50v packs the 640x480 (VGA) screen. The VGA screen is a very compelling reason to purchase the the X50v over the X50. The clarity of the screen is incredible. Text is clearer, and graphics/videos are amazing. In addition, the X50v is the only X50 model with a graphics acclerater which makes videos sharp and smooth using Betaplayer. With the X50v, you have four times the number of pixels using the same screen size. Do you need this type of resolution on Pocket PC? You probably do not need it, but it will enhance the overall experience. Personally, I would not have purchased a Pocket PC without a VGA screen. It was one of my reasons I even tried a Pocket PC device in the first place. Now, it would be very difficult to go back to a 320x240 Pocket PC device, even a 480x320 Palm OS device, for that matter. Wink

By the way, here are a couple of links that show excellent comparison screen shots between the QVGA screen and the VGA screen. Nevermind, that they are also links to some excellent reviews. Smile

pocketnow.com
geek.com

In the pocketnow.com review, you may want to look closer at these three pictures (X50 - QVGA and X50v - VGA and Both Together). In the geek.com review, here are two more pictures of interest to compare (X50 - QVGA and X50v - VGA).

Best regards,
Lance
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128-bit WEP Does Work Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:22 pm
You mentioned that the Wifi supports only 64 bit WEP - is there any 128 bit WEP workaround?

I did mention on one of my earlier posts that I could only get 64 bit WEP working. I am not sure what happened during my first experience, but I just got through testing 128 bit WEP with my Netgear router without any problems. 128 bit WEP DOES WORK on the X50v. I apologize for the confusion.

Best regards,
Lance
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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:21 pm
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am currently on the road, but I thought I would take a moment and wish everyone the best this holiday season.

Sincerely,
Lance
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Input on the Dell Axim X50v Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:21 pm
My question is do you write on your Axim and how does it compare with the T5's Graffiti 2?

I alluded to text entry earlier on Page 2 of my X50v experience, but I have learned a few things since then. On the X50v, there are three types of text entry: keyboard, letter recognizer, and transcriber. The keyboard is an on-screen keyboard which is very similar to the on-screen keyboard of the T5. The letter recognizer is very similar to the graffiti area of the T5. This gives you an area to write upper case letters, lower case letters, and numbers. The X50v does add seven keys that you can tap for more symbols, enter, backspace, left arrow, right arrow, space, and help. The transcriber input method allows a user to write directly on the screen similar to the T5, but they are different. Transcriber on the X50v allows users to enter a word or multiple words directly on the screen while the T5 allows users to use the same graffiti strokes on the screen to enter text one character at a time. Transcriber even lets the user write words on multiple lines to use the entire screen as a notepad, and it is surprisingly accurate.

While the X50v provides a lot on neat features, I prefer the consistency the T5 provides while entering text when using the dedicated graffiti area or when using the any part of the screen. With the X50v, the two different methods are different enough to make it a little harder to switch back and forth between the two. With transcriber on the X50v, there is also a longer delay when you finish entering the text since it is working on recognizing words at a time and not just characters. Of course, this delay might be compensated for the fact that you can enter words at a time, and I do find it more accurate than other input methods. Either way, I have been unable to get transcriber to work while running in true VGA mode, but it does work fine in the default VGA mode. I believe there is a third-party solution, called Calligrapher, that works in true VGA mode, but I am finding it difficult to spend any more money on software since the letter recognizer words fine for me. Plus, there are other third-party solutions that would give T5 the same features as the X50v.

Both devices provide very good input methods even though they are a little different. No matter what device you choose, I think you will find something that will work well for you.

Take care,
Lance
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Martin Fields Ovelay Plus Screen Protector Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:20 pm
I Just received my screen protector for the X50v. I got the Martin Fields Overlay Plus screen protector. After reviewing one a while back, it has been the only type I use. You can read my review for the one I got for my Tungsten T3 here.

By the way, I have been updating this page via the X50v using TextMaker as the page editor along with my wireless keyboard and using Resco Explorer as my FTP client. Without the ability to multitask on the X50v, I really think this would be difficult to do. On the Palm, I would had to repeat several steps in order to get to the same place within each application when I switched to the other. Still doable, but just not as seemless. I have had to switch between the Internet Explorer, TextMaker, and Messaging several times in order to include everything I have wanted to share.

Take care,
Lance
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Day-to-Day Device Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:19 pm
I thought I would take the time to respond to some questions that have been emailed to me.

Are you still happy with the Axim? What's you current feel of the Axim? Still your day-to-day pda for now?

Yes, I am very pleased with the X50v. At the same time, there are some changes in the design of the device I would like to make, but I really have not found a "perfect" design suitable to my taste, yet. On the X50v for example, the 5-way navigation pad and the four application buttons are two small. There seems to be some wasted space on the front of the device that could have been used to make the buttons more usable. At the top of the front face, I think the Dell logo is too big and flashy. It just does not seem to blend in with the design of the device. In addition, I think the device is a little too thick. While it is nicer than most PPC devices, it is not as elegant as many Palm devices. Again, this is a very subjective issue, so I will just leave you with the fact that this is just my humble opinion. None of these items are deal breakers, but I thought they should be noted.

Well, I do not want to get too carried away on these items because I really have enjoyed the Dell Axim X50v as my day-to-day PDA. It has given me more flexibility in a PDA than I ever thought I would have. It is more like a portable PC than anything else I have used. While his is a great thing for PDA and PC power users, it could be a bad thing for most users. In my experience, when the number of features increase, the level of complexity increases. I think this is true of the X50v. Even with the new high-end Palm models, there is more you have to know to get the same level of functionality that you get with a PPC. From the start though, I still think most users will find the PPC platform less intuitive than the Palm platform. As for power users, I think the difference in complexity is a mute point.

Now, I guess to return to the question. I really like the X50v, and I plan to keep it as my primary PDA for the foreseeable future. For power users, I have no problem in recommending the X50v. For less avid users, I would still tend to recommend a Palm OS device to fulfill their needs.

Have you tried TextMaker and PlanMaker? Have you tried the wireless keyboard?

Yes, and I even purchased them on November 11th when they were $11.11 (TextMaker) and $22.22 (PlanMaker). They are very capable applications that allow you do do almost anything on the PDA. While they take a little while to load, they are very responsive on the X50v once they are running, even in "real" VGA mode. I definitely recommend them if you work a lot with Word documents and/or Excel spreadsheets. Pocket Word and Pocket Excel just do not get the job done for the more complicated files. Now, if you add a wireless keyboard, TextMaker gets even better!

Currently, I am using the PalmOne Universal Wireless Keyboard. It has a five-row keyboard layout, so you have a fully functional keyboard. In addition, it is compatible with both PPC and Palm devices. Never mind the fact that you can get one for $48.29 with free shipping at Buy.com (click here). I have some pictures of it with a T5 (click here), and the X50v fits in there just as well. I highly recommend it for both PPC and Palm users, alike.

Best regards,
Lance
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X50v as a Stand Alone Device Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:18 pm
While I was away on vacation, I was able to perform some low-level testing on using the X50v as a stand-alone device since I did not have a computer with me for the past several weeks. Thus, I was unable to ActiveSync the device. I used the X50v to listen to music via PocketMusic, watch videos via BetaPlayer, keep track of expenses via Pocket Excel, read e-mail via built-in Messaging, surf the web via Pocket Internet Explorer, connect to my web servers via Resco Explorer 2003, synchronize my Exchange account information via Pylon Anywhere, create notes using Tombo, lookup contacts via PocketInformant, view my calendar via PocketInformant, and manage tasks using PocketInformant. I was basically able to do about anything from the X50v that I usually do on my laptop. The only thing I was really hurting for is the ability to view/edit Microsoft Access databases. I would also like the ability to connect to my company's network via the Internet using VPN, but I have not tried doing anything, yet. Thus, it may certainly be possible. Anyway, as I mentioned before, all the testing was pretty low-level because I was on vacation. While I could have done a lot more (like update this page), I was on vacation. Wink

I must admit it has been nice to be able to multitask between several applications at a time when I needed to copy and paste information from one application to another. I really thought that this was overrated by PPC ethusiasts, but it really is nice when you are doing a lot of different things at once.

The replaceable battery has also been nice. While this may not be necessary for a lot of people, I really use my device a lot at home with the WiFi on. It is so much more convenient to use than going downstairs to get on the computer when all I may be doing is browsing the Internet or viewing e-mail. Thus, I sometimes run low on power with just one battery, so I just pop another battery in when I need it and charge the used battery while I am using the fresh battery.

Best regards,
Lance
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Out of Pocket Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:18 pm
I apologize for not updating this site in over two weeks. I have been out of pocket for the holidays, and I just returned from vacation. Anyway, I hope to continue my experience with the X50v. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Best regards,
Lance
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Lessons Learned Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:17 pm
To date, the X50v has been my primary device for almost 2 weeks, and I have learned a lot during this experience. Here are several of them with more to follow...

Lesson 1
The X50v is rock solid. The hardware and software have vastly improved since I last visited the PPC platform. I have installed, removed, and re-installed applications on the X50v without any major problems. There have been a few minor glitches, but nothing that a soft reset would not fix. It definitely is not any worse than anything I have experienced on the Palm platform. In fact, I do not think anyone can realistically say that the Palm OS platform is more stable than the Pocket PC platform any longer.

Lesson 2
There is an immense amount of software available for the PPC platform. I will note that PPC software is usually more expensive than comparable Palm software. At the same time, the software on the PPC platform is usually more feature-rich than comparable Palm software. If you compare cost per feature for software, I think you will find both platforms comparable.

Lesson 3
The X50v is very responsive. Most devices I have used in the past have been very slow when compared with Palm devices. Of course, the X50v sports a 624 MHz CPU, so it should be able to keep up with a 400 MHz Palm device. Thus, I have no doubt that a Palm device with a 624 MHz processor would out run a PPC device with the same processor. With that said, the PPC platform is doing something right because I can run circles (many circles) around the Palm platform when playing back video. The video capability of the PPC platform is incredible, and the new 2700g Intel graphics processor in the X50v makes it even better. In fact, software that takes advantage of this hardware will out perform anything on the current market. Unfortunately, I was not keeping up with the PPC forums well enough to beta test the software I am referring to, but there is a thread here that you can read for yourself. Even without the 2700g, the video capabilities of the X50v are impressive to say the least.

Before I get too carried away with the video performance, the X50v is very responsive in day-to-day tasks, also. When I put the X50v and the T5 together using similar software, they are both comparable in speed even though the T5 will slightly out perform the X50v in most situations. While the X50v is slower than a comparable Palm device in these situations, I think the differences are minimal. After continued use, I do not even think about it. I really would not get too caught up in the speed differences because you can multi-task applications on the X50v that can actually help you get things done quicker on the X50v than if using the T5.

Lesson 4
It is near to impossible to operate the X50v with one hand. For the applications mapped to a hardware button, it is not much of a problem. Outside of those applications, you have to have two hands to operate the X50v. This area of the PPC experience has not changed much, and I think that is unfortunate. On the Palm platform, you can get to almost everything you need with one hand. Personally, I think this is a big issue for a mobile device such as a PDA. While probably not a deal breaker for most people, it is something to consider.

Lesson 5
The PPC platform is more feature-rich than the Palm platform. For the most part, this is a good thing. At the same time, it can be a bad thing. While I really like the X50v, I would hate to support a lot of these devices for a company. It is not as bad as supporting a desktop PC, but the PPC is a lot closer to that concept than the Palm is. Currently, I support over 70 Palm devices, and I get very few calls throughout the year. Once the Palm device is setup for that user, there is virtually no maintenance involved in support for that user unless there is a hardware failure. We never get calls about "how to do this" or "how to do that". The Palm is intuitively obvious for users to use, much more so than the PPC.

Now, for the power user who knows a lot about a computer and a lot about Windows, then the PPC is a natural extension of the PC. I think these are the real people that would benefit for the PPC platform because these are usually the people that try to get the most of the equipment they use. For them, the PPC device is intuitively obvious because the PC makes sense to them. In my experience, the desktop PC does not make sense to most people. More people may be using computers, but their knowledge is usually tied to a specific application and not to general information about the PC and/or Windows.

Lesson 6
The X50v is nice looking and very pocketable. This was a very pleasant surprise especially with 64 MB of RAM, 128 MB of ROM, a 624 MHz CPU, an Intel 2700g graphics chip, a VGA screen, a SD slot, a CF slot, built-in WiFi, built-in Bluetooth, a voice recorder, and a user replaceable battery. I know most people do not need all of this in one device, and Palm's market research is probably accurate in most respects, but (probably like many of you) I am not most people. I like and use all that the X50v has to offer, and it gives me more freedom to go and to do what I need to do no matter where I am.

Surprisingly enough, I am still not ready to give up my PalmOne Tungsten T5 just yet. I am still drawn to it's simplicity, and I believe it will not be long before the Wi-Fi drivers for the palmOne Wi-Fi card will be released for the T5. In addition, there is a new version of Kinoma coming soon that might give me the video playback I have been hungry for on the Palm platform. Thus, I might wait until then to make my final decision. For now, the X50v is my primary device.

Thanks,
Lance
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Happy Thanksgiving! Tue Sep 20, 2005 1:15 pm
I have not been able to update my site very often during the past few days, so I apologize for keeping everyone in the dark. I have been busy getting ready for the holidays. I will let you know that I have been using the Dell Axim X50v enough for the past 12 days to say a lot about the Palm OS and Pocket PC debate. Now, if I can just find the time to get it posted. Wink

As for the holidays, it happens to be Thanksgiving here in the United States. I guess it is specifically a time to be thankful for our country. I like to look a little deeper and take the time to think about all the ways the Lord has blessed my life. I truly have a lot to be thankful for, albeit undeservingly so. I would venture a guess and say that we all have something to be thankful whether or not we realize it. I encourage everyone to take this time and think of things that you are thankful for and that you might normally take for granted. Often times, we focus on what we do not have, and we often forget those things that we do have. We really need to do more than think about it, we need to act on it. Go tell someone you love that you are thankful for them. Take them out for coffee. Give them a phone call. Just make it real and personal.

Here is another thing you can do. Get out your Palm or PPC. Then, schedule a reoccurring appointment with an alarm. In the note, list all those things you are thankful for. Now, from this day forward, you will be daily reminded of those things of which to be grateful. Smile

Sincerely,
Lance
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