A new toy: the Dell Axim X51v

I’ve had a fascination with mobile computing for a while now. It started when I first got wind of the homebrew software scene surrounding the Nintendo DS. I loved the idea of playing old ZX Spectrum classics on a haldheld, as well as being able to surf the net, and do other bits and pieces. But I had very little interest in the machine as a modern games platform. It occurred to me that what I should really be on the lookout for was a Pocket PC with a decent spec. For a while now, I’ve had my heart set on the Dell Axim X51v. It has a 624 Mhz processor, which by modern desktop PC standards is poor, but puts it on par with a mid-range PC from around the year 2000, which is pretty amazing for something so small. The TFT is 480×640 pixels, just like an old-school monitor. Video looks beautiful on those tiny pixels, as you can sort of see from the photo. It’s not my intention to watch videos on the TFT too often (maybe on sleepless nights), but the unit can accomodate a VGA cable for attachment to monitors or projectors.

There’s no shortage of software for the Dell Axim (which uses Windows Mobile 5 as its operating system), even a BitTorrent client. But the real beauty of the device is the built in 802.11b wi-fi internet. Although I don’t have the internet at home, I had a wander through the neighbourhood yesterday evening, and occasionally I heard a bleep in my headphones, indicating that the device had picked up an open wi-fi network (i.e. a home internet connection belonging to somebody who hasn’t bothered to switch on encryption). It was rather amusing being able to check my email and RSS feeds whilst on the move.

I’m not sure what additional uses I’ll have for the Dell Axim yet. Skype is something I want to get working on it (Chris, are you listening?). I may also use Pocket Word to edit my fiction (although certainly not to write it).

My friends Chris and Andy are shaking their heads in despair at this point: “Another Sloan whimsical purchase.” Did I need to buy this? No. I concede, it’s a toy. But heck, I’m having fun.

On Chion: it’s 2.00 p.m. and the courier hasn’t showed up yet with the proof copy. Assuming it arrives today, I’ll be back on the blog later.

6 thoughts on “A new toy: the Dell Axim X51v

  1. PRAEst76

    I’ve been happy with my Gizmondo. It’s has a nice little homebrew scene just like the DS, but the machine can be picked up for less (because it’s not cool, possible due to the sordid goons behind the company that made it). Sadly there is no Spectrum emulator yet, but it does have a version of UAE for it, as well as the usual collection of tools. I’m bemoaning the fact there is no OpenDocument reader though.

    It does me well for casual portable geekery. Sadly net access relies on the impractical expense of GPRS, but the leading homebrew developer is working on a service pack that will hopefully open up bluetooth and wireless.

    All in all it’s a nice little machine.

  2. Darryl Sloan

    I remember reading about the Gizmondo on your blog. Seems cool. You’ve got some decent gaming controls, which is something I’ll have to do without. Playing Space Invaders on that little control wheel on the Dell is pretty hard. And Doom is out of the question. Still, there’s the wonderful world of point-and-click SCUMM adventures, and many other delights, to revisit.

  3. PRAEst76

    The Gizmondo runs PocketSCUMM but using the controller to move the software mouse and operate the software keyboard in WinCE mode is a pain in the arse. I actually got Messenger and IRC clients running on it but it takes half an hour to write a message by which time whoever you are talking to has assumed you have died and got on with their life.

    Still, being able to play Turrican 2 on the toilet was worth the price of admission alone.

  4. Darryl Sloan

    Toilet gaming, yes! I knew there was a worthwhile reason for me to buy this device. You hear me, Chris, you nay-sayer? šŸ™‚

    I downloaded Beneath a Steel Sky yesterday (actually a game I’ve never played on the Amiga!). Have yet to try it on PocketSCUMM, but I’m hoping the use of a stylus should make it a good experience while I’m dropping a few logs.

  5. Chris

    Yep, pretty soon you’ll be wanting to drop the Axim along with the few logs. šŸ˜‰

    As for toilet gaming, I get by with a cheapo $10 Tetris handheld my wife got me at Walmart. Lots cheaper than an Axim, but still quite a lot of fun. The only downside is that I see tetris block arrangements whenever I close my eyes.

    No matter what you say, Darryl, I’m still 100% convinced this is a S.W.P. you’re soon going to regret. At least, this time, you didn’t buy it from some shady eBay computer company…I hope!

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