The Zire series from palm was born to offer low cost PDA computing to the masses. But Zires grew up and, like children, they got complicated and lost their naïve charm. For example, the last model, the Zire 72, offered music playing and a built in camera. Somewhere, palm lost the whole concept of what the original Zires were all about: low cost, low learning curve PDAs with uncomplicated features and ease of use.
This was possibly because it differentiated between a Zire range for consumers and a Tungsten range for professionals. But the Zire and Tungsten division is no more. There is a bit of naming myopia at play in the fact that palm can’t quite lose the Z from Zire or the T from Tungsten – take a look at our review of the company’s other new handheld, the T|X, to see where the Tungsten range has landed – but it has gone back to the original principle behind the Zire range with the Z22.
All of which should alert you to the fact that the key with the Z22 is not to expect the earth. Come to this device with your eyes wide open, and you should be very pleasantly surprised.
First off, let’s note that this PDA is a real stocking filler price. At £79 (and a bit cheaper if you shop around), it’s a snip, and palm has had to be careful about the features it packs in to make the price. So let’s get a brief list of what you don’t get out of the way first.
There is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. No way to expand on the built in memory using a flash card. No camera. No way to remove the battery if you want to have a charged spare on hand. No headphones jack so don’t even think of using it for music. No microphone, so you can’t record voice notes.
What you do get is a very small and pocket friendly, trendy-white fronted piece of kit with enough built in applications for it to act as a paper diary and address book replacement, with some added features to boot. In fact, the publicity information pushes the idea of the Z22 as a personal organiser rather than as a handheld computer.
It is important, then, that palm provides its Palm Desktop software as part of the package. With this you get the capability to install extra software to the Z22, copy photos to it, and synchronise its built in calendar, contacts and tasks software with Outlook on your PC. If you aren’t an Outlook user, and many people who decide to choose the Z22 might not be, then the uncomplicated Palm Desktop can act as your diary, contacts and tasks manager instead. The point, then, is that you get all you need for desktop and PDA Personal Information Management (PIM) for your £80.