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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Palm offers 'no frills' organiser
Palm's Zire
The Zire is priced for a wider market
Geoff Lynn reviews the latest gadget from the Palm stable

The first thing you notice about the new "no frills" Zire personal organiser from Palm is that it comes in a cheap plastic container rather than the usual bulky boxes that are designed by the manufacturers to make you think you are getting a lot for your money.

Gone too is the hefty price tag, with the Palm Zire being aimed squarely at the budget end of the market at around 80 - 100.

In fact, Palm's strategy with the Zire is to target a much wider market, pushing away from the glass cases of the electronics shops towards the shelves of the supermarkets.

The marketing message can be translated as: "Here's something that could change the way you deal with your diary and contacts book, but don't buy it if you're expecting a lot of bells and whistles like e-mail and the internet."

Slim and light

Zire at a glance
80 - 100
2MB memory
USB cable and software to connect to PC
Stores up to 6,000 contacts
Five year diary
And to that extent, the Palm Zire lives up to its description. You get a Palm organiser with all the sound basic functionality that you would expect, such as a contacts book, diary, calculator, expenses application, memo pad, clock and To Do list.

It will synchronise with your PC, so you can back up your data and download your appointments from your desktop application (it will synchronise with Microsoft Outlook, although you can also use Palm's standalone application called DateBook).

The device itself is slim and light, with a shiny, white, hard-shell cover, and silver grey metallic effect body.

It has a very obvious "On" button on the front and a couple of other buttons to give you quick access to things like your Diary and your To Do list.

Using the stylus to enter data on the screen is relatively simple and I would say that the basic Palm interface is as easy to use as it has always been. Icons are clearly marked and there is an on-screen keyboard if you don't want to use "graffiti" - which is Palm's own shorthand for entering text.


I do think it is a shame that Palm has gone for a green and black screen

Geoff Lynn
I reviewed Palm's first device - the Palm Pilot - back in 1997 and I would say that the Zire reminds me very much of that.

The key differences are that the price is radically lower in both real and relative terms and there is a lot more software available for the Palm platform nowadays than there was back then.

In terms of limitations, I do think it is a shame that Palm has gone for a green and black screen with no backlight, rather than a nice, clear, well-lit colour effort.

No doubt the manufacturer would argue that, in order to keep the price down and save on battery life, it had to use the cheapest components, but I would fear that this will actually restrict the overall market for the device.

Suitable for girlfriend

The Zire also comes with only 2MB of memory, which effectively means you won't be installing a lot of stuff on it. Palm says this will not be an issue for the kind of people they are targeting.

One other minor irritation is that the package includes what can only be described as a ridiculous rubber flap that is supposed to be used as a cover for the device. Frankly, I don't think they should have bothered.

Would I buy one? Well, I wouldn't because I bought a basic Palm a couple of years ago at twice the price (ugh!).

I might buy one for my girlfriend or my mum, but whether they would prefer that to some nice notelets and a leather-bound desk diary is another matter entirely.

See also:

02 Oct 02 | Business
23 Sep 02 | Business
30 May 02 | Business
21 Mar 02 | Business
06 Mar 02 | Business
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