Palm Z22 handheld review: Palm Z22 handheld

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The Good Light and compact; 32MB of memory; lets you view and store photos; affordable.

The Bad Low-resolution screen; touch screen isn't always responsive; doesn't play music files.

The Bottom Line The Palm Z22 provides an affordable, very basic, and easy-to-use PDA suitable for first-time buyers and technophobes.

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6.2 Overall

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Palm Z22

Although the technology world focuses largely on the latest features and the flashiest design, there are many consumers who don't need or want all the bells and whistles. With PDAs, this means stripping away the wireless connectivity and multimedia features and going back to the core function of a handheld: organization. And this is exactly what the new Palm Z22 does. Targeting first-time handheld users, parents, and students, this $99 device has no tricks or gimmicks. It organizes your most important data--contacts, appointments, and so forth--and lets you view photographs, but that's about it. It's even more basic than the company's previous entry-level model, the Palm Zire 31. Still, if you're ready to graduate from your day planner to a PDA, the Z22 is a good start.

The Palm Z22 is absolutely adorable. Showing off a sporty white and midnight blue color scheme, it's probably the smallest and lightest (2.7 by 4.0 by 0.6 inches; 3.4 ounces) PDA we've seen, and it slips easily into your bag or pocket. Yet, we worry about the durability of the plastic casing (think iPod Shuffle) and screen, which tends to hold a lot of fingerprints and smudges. We recommend you invest in a protective case or, at the very least, screen overlays to prevent scratches. Palm is offering a two-pack of Flexi cases with four screen protectors for $14.99.

Minimalist styling: The Palm Z22 features two shortcut keys to your Calendar and Contacts, but that's it.

Speaking of the screen, the Palm Z22's 2.5-inch-diagonal screen displays thousands of colors, but with its low 160x160-pixel resolution, the viewing experience is a little painful. Images and text just aren't as sharp as those of other PDAs, but you can improve the situation a bit by adjusting the contrast and holding the PDA farther away. We also noticed that the touch screen isn't particularly responsive. Oftentimes, we had to tap an icon numerous times in order to call up an app or maneuver around the display. Below the screen is the virtual Graffiti input area, as well as shortcuts to the Home Page, Menu, HotSync, and Find functions. Additionally, there are two shortcut keys to your Appointments and Contacts, as well as a four-way navigation toggle with a center Select key. Finishing out the Z22 are a mini-USB port and a stylus holder on the top, as well as a lone Reset button on the back.

The Palm Z22's feature set is bare bones, but you get the staple Calendar, Contacts, Memos, and Tasks applications for organizing your most important data. Within those programs, you can customize your data even more. For example, you can designate your Personal and Business appointments by color-coding them, plus you can add photos to your contacts. The Z22 also syncs with Microsoft Outlook for e-mail. With 32MB of memory--20MB of it user-accessible--the PDA can hold about 6,000 addresses, 10 years' worth of appointments, and more. You also get an expense-tracking program, a world clock, a notepad, and a calculator. Palm provides a couple of fun extras, including a game called Crazy Daisy and an eBook reader with three complete books: The Duke and I, Never Eat Alone, and Smoke and Mirrors. Unlike with the Zire 31, however, you can't listen to music on the Z22, but you can carry and view photos individually or as slide shows.

The Palm Z22 is powered by a 200MHz processor that delivers smooth operation with no real noticeable lag when switching between programs. Palm says the Z22's rechargeable battery can last up to one week with casual use. We've been using the Z22 for about four days on a single charge, and the battery indicator says we still have about one-quarter of the charge left.

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