Dell Axim X50v Review

Ted Felix


On 6/2/2005, I received my Dell Axim X50v. Specs:

  • 624MHz Intel PXA270
  • Windows Mobile 2003 SE
  • 128MB Flash ROM
  • 64MB RAM
  • SD and CF card slots

So far, it has worked fairly well. Noticed some screen refresh issues where portions of the screen in Pocket Word and Pocket Excel do not refresh, leaving blank areas. File extensions (.txt etc...) are not viewable through File Explorer. However, if you rename a .txt file to .html via a PC, you can then view that html file with Pocket IE, and edit the source with Pocket Word. Plus, it does JavaScript. Cool.

Screen Protectors

Along with the X50v, I ordered Dell's screen protectors. They unfortunately resemble descriptions I've read of the Incipio Screen Protectors. They are very low quality, hard to install, and get really scratched up after a week or two. The screen protectors from BoxWave are significantly better. Don't waste your money on Dell's. The BoxWave ClearTouch protectors install quickly and easily and they work very well. They are a little bit too thick, but the thickness is what makes them easy to install. During use, the digitizer is less sensitive and every once in a long while seems a little confused. Still, it is better than scratching up the screen.


Handmark Software - Games, SAT/ACT test prep software, Oxford American Desk Dictionary, lots more...

Pocket PC city - Downloads and news.

WordNet CE - Free dictionary. Haven't tried it yet. Looks like you have to install three things to get it to work. Would be really nice to have this.

Books, Magazines, Websites...

How to do Everything with your Pocket PC (third edition) (2003). This is the previous edition of McPherson's "How to do Everything with Windows Mobile (2006)" below. This book emphasizes Windows Mobile 2003. The X50v runs 2003SE, but there probably weren't many changes from 2003 to 2003SE, so this really is the right book to get. The used price is certainly good.

How to do Everything with Windows Mobile (2006). McPherson's latest. This is actually the fourth edition of "How to do Everything with your Pocket PC" (see above). They changed the title for this new edition (the picture on Amazon shows the old title). Excellent and thorough guide to Windows Mobile. This is the manual that should come with every Windows Mobile-based PDA. This book emphasizes Windows Mobile 5 which followed Windows Mobile 2003SE, so it doesn't really apply to the X50v which runs the older 2003SE. However, it does explain how to add some of the features of Windows Mobile 5 to your Windows Mobile 2003SE device. Since I've not read it completely, I'm not sure just how valuable it is to an X50v owner, but it is certainly something to keep in mind.

How to do Everything with your Dell Axim Handheld (2005). I've not read this one. the reviews on Amazon are pretty lackluster.

Pocket PC Magazine


3/17/2007: Reminder notifications for tasks and appointments stopped happening. This just after doing the DST update on 3/10. Tried MemMaid to clear out the notification queue, but it didn't help at all. The notification queue had a lot of stuff in it, but there was no way to know whether it would be safe to delete any of it. Finally did a hard reset (hold down power button while pressing the reset button on the back, all data destroyed). Only problem with the hard reset was that I had to reinstall the DST update. Had to Remove then Install the DST update to get it uploaded to the PDA. Everything appears to be fine now. Here's hoping...

4/24/2007: Learned the hard way... There's a lock switch on the side of this thing. If it ever shows the following symptoms: won't respond to power button, touchscreen, or other buttons, then check the lock switch on the side. While looking for a repair manual from Dell, I discovered that Dell doesn't have a maintenance manual for the x50v. I was able to find disassembly instructions at PDASmart's Repair Instructions site. Fortunately, I didn't need to use them.

Development Tools

3/16/2006: You can program this PDA using JavaScript. Any file with a ".html" extension can be edited in Pocket Word, and displayed in Pocket IE. All you need to do is get a file on the PDA with a .html extension and you're programming in JavaScript. Of course, JavaScript is rather limited, but at least it's something.

eVC, M$'s Embedded Visual C++ for Pocket PC is the development platform for Pocket PCs. Version 4 Service Pack 4 was the most current when Windows Mobile 2003 SE was released. Free from MS's site, but a bit hard to find. Requires Win2k SP2 or newer on the desktop. This is the one to use for serious programs.

PythonCE - A port of Python to CE. Great price (free!). Note that this doesn't contain any documentation explaining how in the heck you are supposed to install it. The closest I've gotten so far is to copy all the files except the python DLL to:

\Program Files\Python\Lib

The DLL belongs in \Windows. Once you do this, the thing appears to run ok. The console screen is too big, however, but at least it appears to work. Run "Setup Registry.lnk" and you will be able to click on .py and .pyc files and python will run. Note that a running instance of PythonCE will prevent a clicked-on file from running. Close PythonCE before trying this. You can do this from the "Memory" control panel app or with the following Python incantation:

import sys

I've been having quite a bit of fun with Python. My first program is one that deals with a limitation of Windows Mobile 2003 SE. Namely, that you cannot change a file's extension through Pocket File Explorer or any other means. Python, however, allows you to do whatever you want, so I was able to implement the following code:

import os
import sys

os.chdir('\My Documents')
if '' in a:
	os.rename('', '')

if '' in a:

That example gives me the ability to quickly change "" from being editable ("") to being executable (""). Not bad for a first shot.

Although I'm getting used to Python, I still find it strange that the language is "formatting sensitive". Code indentation has meaning in the language. Bizarre.

Now I need to figure out how to get glob installed and working so that I can write a program that converts all "*.py" to "*.py.txt" for editing and vice versa. "glob" appears to be in the file that is included in the PythonCE binary distro. This .zip file appears to contain a large number of .pyc (compiled python) files that look like they implement "standard library" functions. Looks like I really need this installed to get the full effect of Python. After installing this, now I cannot get console mode to run. The window flashes then disappears. Python does still run my programs, but I can't use the console mode. I had this problem before, then I moved the DLL from \Program Files to \Windows and it went away. Not sure what to do now, or what causes the problem.

Tried PocketConsole and PocketCMD, however, they didn't help at all, other than making it a bit easier to rename files. PocketCMD doesn't quite run properly in that it doesn't show what you are typing, and sometimes doesn't show output at all unless you switch to something else, then come back. Running python from here still gives me a window that appears quickly, then disappears. Where have I gone wrong!?

NS Basic/CE Develop both at the desktop (any windows version), and on the device itself. Uses VBScript as its core engine. Looks like fun. A bit pricey, though at $150. Makes you wonder if there is a way to program directly in VBScript. Perhaps a .VBS file will run?

Pocket PC Developers Network An index of developer tools.

Another index

Jeode from
Develop Java on the device. Impossible to find a download, or a way to buy.


Pocket ViC
Vi editor and C compiler for ARM and MIPS processor Pocket PCs. Looks outdated, no author website.

PocketConsole v1.1
Apparently Pocket PC 2002 doesn't come with a console.

Standard perl distro includes a pocket pc/WinCE version.
Hardcore hackers/perl lovers only. Not easy to install. Not easy to use.

Not exactly C, more like Java. Intermediate code interpreter, a "VM". Like Java ByteCode.

Other Handhelds

I was originally looking at a Toshiba e740NW with 400MHz Intel PXA250 processor, Pocket PC 2002. PXA250 is ARM v.5TE compliant, will run SA-1110 code. I see X86, SH3, ARM and MIPS processors mentioned on websites.

SmallBASIC Open source version of BASIC for PalmOS. Probably need to port to get it to work on target machine.

Lots of PalmOS development tools here:

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Copyright ©2007, Ted Felix. Disclaimer.