Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 8:34 pm Post subject: Dell Axim X5 Stylus Ratings
Although the Dell Axim X5 is getting a bit dated, I thought I'd take a few minutes to review the stylii I've tried out with it, mostly looking to find something with a backup pen. I had a pretty good instance for my Ipaq of what I'd call the ideal stylus in the form of the Pilot Chameleon, which is at Styluscentral.com at:
1. Good fit/finish
2. Padded tip (spring loaded or something)
3. Easy to access pen
4. Holds up under use
However, search as I might, I could not find an equivalent for the Dell Axim X5.
The Axim comes with a metal stylus, for the barrell, and a plastic point. The point is a good shape, not too sharp, not too dull, and gets the job done. I use a Bando screen protector, which is pretty heavy duty, and it shows very little sign of wear. There are two undesirable attirbutes of the factory stylus:
1. It's metal - probably not a problem in warm climes, but cold in winter here
2. No pen (which can be forgiven, what factory stylus has a pen?)
There are other variations on the web for this, but generally it's a grey plastic stylus. The cap is towards the top, splitting maybe one quarter of the way down, to get to the pen. Looks like a standard multipen refil, as near as I can tell. Otherwise, the barrell is very much shaped like the stock stylus.
1. Has a pen
2. Plastic barrell (warmer)
1. Point a bit sharper than factory stylus
2. Cap eventually comes lose, and stylus then can come apart in the PDA, which is the devil to deal with.
It's mostly the cap that's the problem with this pen/stylus. The plastic wears to the point where it won't stay on, and we're not talking a 1000 uses or anything serious. It happens pretty quickly. The plastic is the harder type of plastic, so ends up wearing or not retaining shape enough to stay on. And then when it does come apart in the PDA, you have to really work to get the remaining part out. So the manufacturer deserves some credit for coming up with a design that reatins the factory shape, but the execution could have been better. This would be a better design with more retentive shape plastic, maybe a softer variant.
The next Stylus I'll talk about is the Cross Micropen. This is an interesting option, in that it's round, so nothing like the oval shape of the Dell factory stylus, with a selection of 3 plastic caps. The mechanics on the Cross are interesting, in that the pen retracts, and the location of the stylus point is on the cap, so everything is kind of reversed.
1. Really nice "rubber" feel to the barrel (easy to hold)
2. Nice mechanical feel to retracting the pen
1. Doesn't fit well (really too big for the Dell X5)
2. Stylus has the edge clip to get in the way
So to net the Cross out, it's a heck of a design, probably works quite nicely in other PDAs, but not in the Dell X5. Getting it in is just not very easy. I've done it a few times, but it's tight, and the stylus is always out in the open. The nib also keeps getting in the way. So, nice try, but not a good solution on the X5.
This is an interesting variation. You get a brushed metal barrel, with one end having a black plastic version of the stylus, shaped similarly to the factory Dell, and the other end is a press on fit cap to the pen. Everything fits well into the PDA, and so forth. The cap is press fit, but seems to stay put, so there's no risk of getting lost in the PDA.
1. Fits well
2. Reasonably good finish
1. Dull point on stylus
The first grey-plastic variant is the closest to the Dell factory stylus in shape, but this one works, and is probably the one to spend your money on, if you have to have a pen. The disadvantage, and this is going to be a show-stopper for some, is that the stylus tip is "dull". It's a tad on the large side, doesn't come to a point like the factory Dell. The shape then makes it a bit hard to use and place correctly.
So again, close, but not exactly without defects.
To summarize, none of the stylii is ideal. If I had to pick one, it would probably be the last, but that's only because the problems with the first two are fairly major. The grey plastic stylus comes apart too easily. The Cross doesn't fit. Problems are probably fixable, but we'll have to see what the manufacturers do. There's definitely room in the market for someone else, should they do a little more engineering similar to what Pilot does for HP.