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Palm Z22 Personal Organizer

Entry-level device will appeal to casual users By Frank Moldstad

Palm's new entry-level Z22 personal organizer (MSRP $99) bears a passing resemblance to an iPod, with its white plastic exterior and 4x2 1/2 inch form factor. But don't go getting any ideas about using it as a portable music player -- there's only 20MB of non-expandable memory, it has no earphone jack, and doesn't play multimedia files anyway.

Compared to the full-featured models in Palm's line, the Z22 is a lightweight. It can't browse the web, make phone calls, or send/receive text messages or email, and there's no Flash memory card slot. But while PDA power users might turn up their noses at the Z22, this inexpensive little device actually has a lot going for it. For one thing, it offers an ideal environment for first-time organizer users. Plus, its compact size also makes it an attractive alternative to larger multipurpose Palms for those who want a basic device to keep the details of their life in order.

The Z22's Palm OS Garnet 5.4 operating system includes a Tasks Organizer/reminder, a Note Pad, a Memos function, a Calendar, a Calculator, a Contacts data base, and it has a photo storage utility. It comes equipped with a rather insubstantial plastic wand, with a storage slot at the top right. There's an InfraRed port for beaming data to and from other Palm units hidden behind the plastic on top of the unit, next to the USB port. The included Palm Desktop application installs on a PC (XP/2000) or a Mac (OS 10.2 or higher), enabling the Z22 to sync with the computer via USB (cable included). PC users have the option of syncing with Outlook Express on installation.

The color touch screen measures 2.4-in. diagonally (160x160 pixels). It's small but readable, and the contrast and brightness are adjustable. A central navigation button at the bottom middle can be pressed for selecting onscreen items, and a four-way selector ring around it allows you to go up and down or left and right through the menus. There are two shortcut buttons on either side of the navigation button, for accessing the Calendar and Contacts software. There are also onscreen shortcut buttons for Home, Applications, HotSync and Find. A recessed power button is at the bottom left. The built-in battery can hold a charge for approxmately five days.

Setting up the Palm is simple. After connecting it to a USB port on your computer, you insert the CD-ROM to install the software. It automatically checks the Palm web site for updates and installs them. After clicking the hotsync icon on the Z22's screen to sync it with the computer, you're given several options. First, you can register the Z22. Next, you're presented with free utility software applications available for download, including a photo organizer, the powerOne Personal calculator, Handmark's MobileDB database sofware, SplashShopper for shopping lists, and eReader for online books.

Some of the mobileDB databases
I particularly liked the MobileDB application, which can import more than 2,000 databases free from MobileDB's website. The variety of choices is astonishing, everything from schedules for various pro sports teams to a guide to Irish pubs. And you never know when you're going to need a list of Harley Davidson dealers in Missouri or a complete Dungeons and Dragons Weapons List, both of which are included.

Surprisingly, I didn't find the Z22's 20MB memory limit too confining. Even after loading up several MobileDB databases, transferring personal contacts from Outlook Express, saving a couple of text documents and entering various to-do tasks, I still had approximately 15MB left. One way to fill it up quickly, of course, would be to load a bunch of photos.

The Z22 definitely has a niche among casual users, and for the price it's a great value. Those whose needs involve more substantial business uses would be advised to trade up a couple of notches for more memory and wireless functionality. But if the Z22's limitations are not a concern, I'd recommend it as a capable and user-friendly personal organizer.

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Related Keywords:Palm, Z22, personal organizer, PDA


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