palmOne Zire 72 – PDA - palmOne Zire 72

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With dimensions of 116 x 75 x 17mm and a weight of only 136g, the Zire 72 is light and small enough to carry around with you wherever you go. The 3in colour screen is excellent with a bright image and vibrant colours. I found it quite easy to use the Zire 72 in most lighting conditions and never needed to raise the brightness level above 50 per cent. As is traditional with Palm devices, you’ll find the input area below the screen. Here there is a box for alpha input and one for numeric input. Around the input area are four hot-spots that take you to Home, HotSync, Find and the drop down menus. In the top left corner of the alpha input box there’s a shortcut to the Clock while in the top right of the numeric input box is a shortcut to the Brightness setting.


Below the screen you’ll find a centre mounted four-way rocker pad with a central button. The four-way pad allows you to navigate the menus without the need to use the stylus, although I always find it easier to use the latter. Surrounding the four-way pad are four more shortcut buttons for Contacts, Calendar, mp3 player and Camera.


Yes, that’s right I did say camera, because integrated into the Zire 72 is a digital camera. The integrated 1.2 megapixel camera will take still images at a resolution of 1,280 x 960. Although this is a decent enough resolution for quick snaps there is more to a good digital camera than megapixels alone.


I took the Zire 72 with me when I visited the Lake District over the May Bank Holiday weekend. There I used it like I would use any pocket size digital camera, and the results were decidedly mixed. If you’re planning on taking pictures in bright sunlight, you can pretty much forget about framing your photo, because you simply won’t be able to see anything on the screen. I often found myself having to point and hope, and the results turned out to be terribly over exposed. The lens is also susceptible to large amounts of flaring when taking pictures in the direction of strong light. It also has to be said, that the images are nowhere near the quality of a half decent digital camera. But, the images are far better than anything I’ve seen from a mobile phone camera, and to be fair that’s what the Zire’s photographic quality should really be compared to.


One thing that I found rather annoying was that I couldn’t seem to get the camera to save the images directly to a memory card. Instead I had to copy the files over to the card afterwards. You can also shoot 320 x 240 movies with sound and the results are pretty good for the odd bit of candid camera action.


There’s no cradle with the Zire 72, instead it ships with a standard USB cable and a separate power adapter. There are two ports on the base of the device for both USB and power connection. This is handy, since my iPAQ has a proprietary connector on the bottom for the cradle, so when I want to plug the power adapter in, I have to use a converter.


The Zire will synchronise with Outlook, so you can share all of your contact and calendar details with your PC. One nice touch is the ability to attach an image to each contact, in case you regularly forget who people are in your contacts database. With the integrated digital camera, this is a feature that you’re likely to use more often than not, rather than it just being a gimmick.