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Dell Axim users peeved at PPC 2003 performance

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Dell has come under fire from owners of its Axim x5 PDA for its performance when running Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC. Some users claim the machine is significantly slower than running the previous version, Pocket PC 2002.

Just the demands of Microsoft bloatware, you might say. But no, reports from users of Pocket PCs from other manufacturers, including Viewsonic and HP, suggest that the new OS does indeed provide higher performance.

That's due in no small part to that fact that Windows Mobile 2003 has been compiled for Intel's XScale PXA25x chip family. The previous release supported only the previous generation of Intel ARM-based chips, the StrongARM. The optimisation present in the new version of the OS should lead to superior performance on any XScale-based PDA.

Unless it's an Axim. There's a consensus that the x5's processor performance with Windows Mobile 2003 is better than it was under Pocket PC 2002, based on benchmarks like SPB, carried out by the likes of Aximsite. But there does appear to be an issue with file and data access, which is rather slower under the new OS than the old one. This manifests as directories listing slowly, files opening slowly and choppy Media Player playback.

Complaints have appeared on forums host by Aximsite, Brighthand and even some Dell technical support boards.

Such problems are being reported by buyers of Axims shipping with Windows Media 2003, and those who have purchased the OS through Dell's upgrade offer. In a 23 June press release, Dell said: "Existing Axim customers in North America and Europe can purchase a Windows Mobile 2003 upgrade with companion CD from Dell for $29.00."

We looked for details of the offer on Dell's US web site, but could find no reference to it. That has led some Axim users to allege Dell has pulled the offer until it can resolve the performance issue. However, the offer was posted on the company's UK site today.

We asked Dell last week to comment on the issue, but the company was unable to respond then and has yet to do so today. Users' interrogation of the company's tech support staff, however, suggests some acknowledge the problem, while others do not. A number of users have been told that a fix is in the pipeline, others that they should return their Axims. The fix may be released as early as this coming Friday. ®

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