Palm Zire72 

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A colour PDA with excellent screen resolution, lots of inbuilt RAM, additional storage by SD card and just for good measure a 1.2megapixel camera built in, surely now this will satisfy this old git who owns an antiquated Palm 5x?

For the last year regular readers will have had to put up with me looking for a replacement PDA for my old unexpandable monochrome Palm 5x. Up till now the best contender has been the Tungsten E.

Here the Zire72 takes a lot of the ground from the Tungsten by having the better 320x320 screen resolution, an excellent processor and lots of memory. So is it a Tungsten in all but name, after my tests I have to say yes.

It bears no real comparison to the Zire71 that it replaces. It is thinner and the camera is totally different, better in so many ways, not least is the resolution. It is 11.5x7.5x1.5cm and weights less than 140 grams. The display area is 5.5cm square with a 5.5x2cm area below for writing either using the soft keyboard or Graffiti 2. There are four programmable buttons two either side of a five position central button. Pressing the centre of this while the unit is off gives a clock display for two seconds without otherwise turning the unit on. Switching on is done by use of one of the four buttons or the on/off button on the top of the unit between the SD slot and earpieces socket. To the right of this on the right edge is the stylus. The left side has the voice memo button. The rear has the camera and this sits towards the top of the PDA. The base has connections for power and mini USB for synchronization.

Controlling the camera could not be easier, it has it's own applet within version 5.2.8 of the Palm operating system. Open the applet the camera becomes live with the top 4cm of the screen showing whatever the camera is looking at, the lower 1.5cm shows how many more images you can take and either side of the shutter button a still or movie button, as yes, this Palm can even take movie sequences. There are a number of settings including one for low light and this is required as there is no flash. I could use the rest of this article just taking about the camera but that is only one part of the Zire72. Movie images can only be saved to a SD card while you can copy still images to a card as an alternative to transfer to the PC during synchronization. Images taken in reasonable light were quite acceptable and around 330k each.

As a PDA it is excellent, the added resolution really show with anything graphical such as images not only those taken on the camera. I use a small utility that allows scanned images to be imported these can be photos but maps are very useful and these are fully zoomable both in and out and look superb.

Providing you have a Bluetooth phone you can connect your Zire72 to the outside world, the latest version of Versa Mail provided with the unit facilitates synchronization with Outlook . It is also possible to view PDF files on the PDA and you can also view and edit both Word and Excel files.

The SD card can be used to store MP3 files and the Palm has a version of RealPlayer that will play them. The stated life between charges is around ten hours I found that in my tests the battery icon got very low in less time than this I would put it nearer eight hours. However I doubt anyone would use a Palm like a notebook so even eight hours should be at least a couple of days use. If you sync regularly then you should be okay. The Zire72 -with camera- is £185 with Dabs, this is more than the Tungsten E. If you are looking for a phone with a better than VGA camera resolution there are few available in the UK currently. If 1280x960 is enough then why not have a Bluetooth phone without camera and use the Zire72.

As for me I ponder Zire72 or Tungsten E. Until I decide it's back to my mono 5x.

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