The Dell Axim X30 Pocket PC is like interacting with a baby. It is a smaller, less sophisticated version of its adult counterpart; the PC (or laptop). While I do, at times, enjoy holding a new born, I would prefer being around grown-ups when a mature situation arises (like building a spreadsheet).

There are several programs on the Axim that are named similarly to the suite of products that come standard with any Windows operating system. I quickly became aware that alike names do not translate into alike applications. The Axim comes complete with Pocket Word, Pocket Outlook and Pocket Excel. I also understand that Pocket Access and Pocket Power Point are available for download. Most of my work is conducted in Microsoft Excel. While simple spreadsheets and common commands (cut, copy, paste, etc) are converted and supported from PC Excel into Pocket Excel, there are a myriad of features that do not function on the Axim. Macros cannot be written and run. Imported images do not display on the pocket version. Graphs and charts are not able to be created and edited. Even the total amount of space per spreadsheet differs. Microsoft Excel offers a space capacity of 65,536 rows by 256 columns. Pocket Excel supports only 16,384 rows by 256 columns. Other standard operations also presented a challenge for my handheld infant-size computer.

Printing was a problem. Usually present in the file tab of Excel, I was not able to locate the command to print a worksheet. I then discovered another Pocket Excel exception: no printing capabilities. I was forced to locate and download a software program that boasted a solution to this printing problem. I chose to sample PrintPocketCE from Field Software Products for a 30 day free trial. After installation, the software interface proved to be extremely user-friendly and intuitive. Alas, there was another problem. It supported all printers except that one that I had. Or, at least, it seemed that way. There was a list of approximately 20 types of printers (all "infared" in nature) that I could beam my excel sheet towards, but the name of my printer did not appear on that list. This was not the only external hardware issued I faced.

The only means for connection with the Pocket PC (other than "infared") is through a serial port. I purchased a USB numeric keypad for convenient number input. It's a simple device with a simple connection; a USB plug. This is not possible on the Axim. My search for some type of adapter to convert a USB connector into a serial port was also unsuccessful.

Overall, I enjoyed the handy size of the Axim and its aesthetic attractiveness. But, just like a baby, it's really cute until in spits up all over your clothes (or, in this case, onto your spreadsheet).


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