If you want to listen to music on the move, the RealOne player resides in ROM and will playback mp3 files without issue. Strangely, you can only playback files from an SD card and not from main memory. You can listen to music via the built-in speaker, and the result is surprisingly clear, even at full volume. But, you’re obviously far more likely to use headphones, and the quality and volume via the 3.5mm jack at the top of the unit is definitely on par with most dedicated mp3 players I’ve used.
Next to the headphone socket at the top of the Zire 72 is the power button, and next to this is the SD card slot. Once again the design of the Zire 72 shines through here, where a spring loaded flap covers the SD card slot when it’s empty, whereas many PDAs resort to using a blanking card to perform this task.
If there’s one area where the palmOne design team stumbled, it’s with the carrying case. The supplied case looks like a small handbag, complete with wrist strap. The Zire 72 slides into the case and is sealed in with a Velcro strip. Quite simply, this case turns a very slim and small PDA, into a bulky object that won’t fit in your pocket. I tended to carry the Zire around in my pocket without a case, although this isn’t ideal either. A sensible purchase would definitely be a slim case to protect the Zire but still keep it pocketable.
Battery life appeared to be good. I used the Zire 72 for the whole Bank Holiday weekend, taking lots of pictures and making good use of the Bluetooth functionality. The battery was starting to run low by the Wednesday morning, which is pretty impressive. That said, most PDA users tend to charge their units either while at their desk during the day or overnight while they sleep.
The palmOne Zire 72 isn’t perfect, but it is a very good example of a fully featured, consumer targeted PDA. The camera is a great gadget, but don’t think that you’ll be able to replace your conventional digital camera with it. What you do get is an easy way to add photos to your contacts, and a point and click, fun camera in your pocket that’s a lot better than the one in your mobile phone.
It’s probably fair to say that the Zire 72 will be competing with the iPAQ h1940, and although the h1940 is a small and stylish device, it’s not quite as easy to use, or as much fun as the Zire. With a street price of £192.81, the Zire 72 also represents good value considering the feature set.
palmOne has produced a great little PDA with the Zire 72. There’s so much to like about this product, that the little niggles I do have just fade into the background. For anyone that wants a PDA that’s as much fun as it is functional, the Zire 72 should be top of the shopping list.