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You need ActiveSync from Microsoft. Unless you're using Vista which uses Windows Mobile Device Center. Connecting to the Axim to a Vista machine should automatically download the Windows Mobile Device Center software.
Have you updated to the latest system utilities? (Formerly known as A12 English ROM image for X51v & A04 ROM image for X51, this is a newer update than those.) The link to the instruction page is long - here is the direct ftp Hope that helps.
Some people have said that the original ppc2002 ROM has battery draining problems. If this is something new, perhaps it is a bad battery. Ebay for a new one.
If you think it might be a software problem and you have ppc2002-also known as Windows Mobile 2002, upgrade your Axim with the A04 ROM:http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&releaseid=R63937&SystemID=PDA_AXIM_X5&servicetag=&os=PPC&osl=en&deviceid=4434&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=3&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=7&fileid=82832
My first opinion would refer to the operating system stored in ROM. Maybe you have a ROM data corruption and you may need to upgrade/reinstall the OS and other files in ROM.
As you can't make a connection with active sync (try it however) you will need to have the ROM updated via a specially formated SD card. This is risky to do it yourself as it involves hex editing and raw formating a SD card. If something is done wrong the process fails and the PDA could get damaged. Please go to a service center to have it fixed by them. It is the most safest way.
If you however manage in some way to make an active sync connection with you pda (either a partnership or guest connection) you can try to upgrade the ROM yourself using the patch provided by Dell (this is a safe way).
Here is a link to download a ROM installation file (english version,also it is Windows Mobile 5, it will also upgrade your operating system)
(this is an official upgrade from Dell, please follow the instruction in the program).
For any other question please feel free to ask and also always remember to rate any answers received from this site :)
Good luck !
Microsoft is well aware of the popularity of the iPAQ 3600 upgrades made available and that is one reason they mandated a Flash ROM with the new Pocket PC 2002 hardware. I am pretty sure MS will make an upgrade path available to the OEMs. It will then be up to Dell, Compaq and friends to make it available to the customer. Dell has always been good about that.
As for the ROM size. The current Pocket PC 2002 image is 22MB. I have no idea how big the next one is or even when it will be out! Could be 2003 or 2004. MS has traditionally upgraded every 18 months or so on their PDA OS since 1998. IF that pattern holds true, 18 months from Oct 2001 would be spring 2003. We'll see. Ok, back to the ROM. Most Pocket PC 2002's have a 32MB ROM though a few have a 48. I think the 48 is primarliy to handle a big user file storage area in the ROM. I would be surprised if the next PPC increased more than 45% in size. It could though, but if I had to bet, though, I'd say 32MB would be plenty. Still - I'd look at the 48MB model for other reasons. 33% faster processor, 64MB RAM, included cradle.