Thursday, July 1, 2004

The Dell Axim X30 vs. palmOne’s Zire 72, Tungsten E, and Tungsten C

PRODUCT SHOOTOUT

By David Gewirtz

This article has proven to be much harder to write than I originally expected. The idea was to compare the new Dell Axim X30 to the new palmOne Zire 72 that I reviewed back in April. You can read that review at http://www.computingunplugged.com/issues/issue200404/00001272001.html. It turned out that we needed to compare the Axim X30 to three different palmOne devices: the Zire 72, the Tungsten E, and the Tungsten C.

Read on to find out who the clear winner is. The results were not nearly as clear-cut as we expected.

The palmOne Zire 72 vs. the Dell Axim X30

The idea was that because they're just about the same price (the Zire 72 is $299 and the Axim X30 with integrated wireless is $249), and came out within a few weeks of each other, they'd make excellent candidates for a product shootout.

The thing is, they don't exactly match in terms of features. The Axim X30 comes in three separate variants, one without wireless and a 321Mhz processor for $199, one with integrated wireless (both WiFi and Bluetooth) for $249, and one with wireless, but running twice as fast, at 624Mhz, for $349.

The Zire 72 comes with Bluetooth, but not WiFi, and has a built-in camera. Table A shows how the two machines compare on specifications.

Table A: Zire 72 vs. the Dell Axim X30 models
FeatureZire 72Axim X30Axim X30 WirelessAxim X30 624Mhz
Screen resolution320x320240 x 320240 x 320240 x 320
Color depth65,536 colors65,536 colors65,536 colors65,536 colors
Processor312Mhz312Mhz312Mhz624Mhz
Max camera resolution1280x960n/an/an/a
Max video resolution320x240 with soundn/an/an/a
RAM32MB (24 usable)32MB64MB64MB
Bluetoothbuilt-inn/abuilt-inbuilt-in
WiFin/an/abuilt-inbuilt-in
Voice recorderbuilt-inbuilt-inbuilt-inbuilt-in
ExpansionSD cardSD cardSD cardSD card
List price$299$199$249$349

The model I reviewed was the $249 Axim X30 with the built-in wireless. The biggest issue, assuming you didn't have a preference for Palm OS or the Pocket PC, is whether you want wireless or a camera. Dell does not currently offer a PDA with a camera, so if that's a big thing for you, you'll probably want to go with the Zire 72.

Although I was very, very impressed with the Axim X30, there's one other area where the palmOne devices win: screen. The screen on the Zire 72 is 320x320, where it's 240x320 on the Axim X30. And, although this is a subjective judgement, the screens on the palmOne Zire 72, Tungsten E (which I'll talk about later) and Tungsten T3 are all considerably nicer than the screen on the Axim, where you can really see the pixels.