Saturday, March 19, 2005

Product Review: Palm Zire 72

I've been a PDA user for several years, from electronic organizers by Sharp and Casio, to the short-lived Diamond Mako by Psion, to several Palm handhelds (m100, m105, m125, m130, Zire 71). I even had a little fun with an old Palm Pilot 5000 before sending it to Palm for a $50 rebate. I am now the happy user of a Palm Zire 72 that Wife surprisingly (she hates them) gave me for Christmas, and I believe I have a pretty good basis for comparison.

Priced at about $300, the Zire 72 is Palm's top-of-the-line product for the personal user. Entry-level models include the Zire 21 and Zire 31, and business user models include the entire Tungsten line. I find the Zire 72 to be adequate for most of my personal and business needs.

The Zire 72 is packed with features, many of which you won't find in comparably priced handhelds.
  • 32Mb of internal memory: a little less than you see in many handhelds these days, but more than adequate for the average consumer.
  • SD/MMC Expansion Slot: a reasonably priced 128Mb or 256Mb expansion card (sold separately) more than compensates for any shortcoming in internal memory.
  • 1280 x 960 Hi-Resolution color display: crystal-clear images in full color -- it's the best looking display I've had in a handheld yet.
  • Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity: I haven't been able to test-drive Bluetooth yet because my handheld is more state-of-the-art than my PC and cell phone, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try.
  • Voice Memo: a handy little feature when you need it, you can even email a Voice Memo in WAV format directly from the handheld via Wireless Infrared Modem (sold separately), Bluetooth, or Hotsync with a PC.
  • 1.2 Megapixel Digital Camera with Video/Audio Capture: an upgrade from the Zire 71 Digital Camera, this little gem of a feature is invaluable to a new father like me. Good quality JPEG images can be effortlessly sent to friends and family or stored on your PC, and Video Capture is Windows Media compatible for playback on any PC as well as instant playback on the handheld.
  • MP3 Audio: ditch that iPod and play your favorite tunes using the built-in speaker or external headphones.

The Zire 72 includes such useful software titles as:

Other readily available software titles I find useful and strongly recommend:

  • AvantGo (free) allows offline web viewing.
  • Pocket Money ($) is a fully functional financial program to track checking, savings, and credit accounts.
  • BibleReader+ (free) puts a fully searchable text of the Bible on your handheld.
  • Verichat (free to try) is compatible with most major Instant Messenger programs using a Wireless Infrared Modem or compatible cell phone.

Recommended Accessories:

  • Protect your PDA with a hard case, available from Palm, Innopocket, and others.
  • Protect the screen from scratches with stick-on screen protectors from Palm and others.
  • A second charger, car charger, or USB charger will come in handy if you use your PDA on the go as much as I do.
  • PDA Stylus Pens make it easy to keep a ballpoint pen handy at all times.
  • Wireless Infrared Keyboards are available from Palm and Belkin if you find yourself creating frequent documents on your PDA, as I do.
  • Wireless Infrared Modems from Palm and Psion help you stay in touch on the go.

Bottom line? The Palm Zire 72 is a fully featured handheld that I use more frequently than my PC. I strongly recommend it.

Got anything to add?

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