Palm Z22 Review

by Antoine Wright Reads (185,960)
  • Pros

    • Outstanding battery life
    • Well executed design

  • Cons

    • Somewhat low resolution


 


Palm Z22 (view larger image)

 

The Z22 is one of two fall releases for Palm, and a new attack on the entry-level PDA segment. The Palm Z22 isn’t fighting for the current PDA user base much at all, but instead is targeting the huge paper-planner market. These buyers have avoided PDAs for fear that they’re too hard to use. The Z22 promises to be easy to use and at an MSRP of $99, it offers a color screen in a PDA that’s easy on the budget.

Palm has done it again. Not so much because of the price or feature set. Sure it helps to be the first color PDA under $100 and while there’s not much room to expand or add accessories, there’s plenty of storage space and a loss of battery power doesn’t mean a loss of data. Palm wanted the Z22 to be all about simplicity, and they’ve accomplished the mission well. The Z22 (the Zire name being dropped for the “Z” and numeric designation) is Palm’s reply to those people who want an easier way to organize their lives; and it’s a soft spoken, yet firm reply, that another great model is here.


Features Overview


Palm Z22 in box

I found a whole lot to like about the Z22. Coming from a person who uses a Treo 600 and a Tungsten T5 on a regular basis, anything less robust than those rarely garners much consideration. But looking at the Z22 versus what is out there now (nothing) and what came before it (the Zire, Zire 21, and Zire 31), the Z22 is a clever device that has the abilities to keep Palm’s hold on the entry-level PDA market strong.


Contents of the Z22 box

Palm Z22 Specifications and in the box:

  • Palm OS Garnet 5.4.9
  • 2.7″W x 4.06″H x 0.6″D
  • 3.4 Ounces
  • 160×160 CSTN 12bit display
  • 32MB of memory, 24.6 usable, Non-volatile Memory
  • Mini-USB Connector for syncing and charging
  • 200MHz processor
  • Screen Protector
  • Graffiti 2 Sticker
  • Software Included: Palm’s enhanced PIM applications (Calendar, Contacts, Memos, and Tasks) NotePad, Expense, World Clock, Calculator, Palm Photos application (a Palm version of SplashPhoto), AddIt, Crazy Daisy from Astraware (full version), Palm Desktop 4.2, MobileDB, PowerOne Calculator, SplashShopper, eReader eBook Reader (with three books)

Design Talk

All of the hardware numbers are good, but it’s the design that people will first notice with the Z22 (and it’s a good one, especially for a low cost PDA). Palm used a bit of the LifeDrive’s DNA with making the Z22 and has executed the design and feel very well. All of the buttons are placed well and it’s very light to carry. Many times I’ve carried the Z22 in my shirt pocket only to forget it was there.

My fiance (the impartial judge of all things PDA) was also impressed with the size and weight (being a previous Zire 21 owner, she has a great frame of reference). She also remarked that the button placement (larger and easier to use power button) and size were just right and the screen looked much better than what she had with the Zire 21.


Palm Z22 in low light

One thing that I really appreciate about the Z22 (and I wish was included with every Palm OS PDA), is the ability to fully charge using its mini-USB cable. There is only one connector (the mini-USB port) and either with the sync cable or charging cable, one is able to charge the Z22. Since it comes with two cables, you use one to sync over USB and one to charge via wall plug. The USB cord has an added benefit though. When it’s plugged into a computer, the Z22 will also trickle charge. While it’s not as fast as charging over AC, it’s a nice option and it means you can leave the AC adapter at home or the office.  Fortunately the battery life is fantastic, so charging isn’t something I had to do much in my few weeks with the Z22.

Some Hard Numbers

My battery test for the Z22 included adding pictures to the Photos application and then setting up the slide show to play the pictures until they couldn’t play any longer. The screen was set at 50% contrast. This chart shows that the minimum usable life of the battery is at least 9 hours. That’s very impressive for a PDA with this size of battery. Under normal use, the Z22 could very well run for a few weeks without needing a re-charge.

After 1hr

100%

After 2.5hrs

78%

After 4.5hrs

38%

After 7.5hrs

8%

After 8.5hrs

4%

At 9hrs got Extremely Low battery warning

At 9.5hrs

0%

I also used the programs Speedy and Palm Benchmark to give some insight regarding the power of the Z22.

Speedy: Benchmarks @ 1316 and MHz measured @ 263 MHz (average of 5 runs)

Palm Benchmark: Arithmetic — 404%; Heap Management — 306%; Data Access — 458%; Graphics — 592% (all results are relative to a Palm m505 @ 100%)

The numbers might be a bit pig-Latin to some of you, but essentially, the numbers bear out what I have experienced with the Z22 in that it is a very solid and capable device. For most users and the target audience for this device, the Z22 will have a lot more power than what it will be used it for.

How Does It Handle the PDA Life?

So I had the novel idea that I should detune my normal PDA patterns and use the Z22 for a day and see how I could get along with it. I started by installing Palm Desktop on a fresh user name on my XP Home laptop. Then I beamed from my Treo a category of phone numbers, calendar items, and tasks, so that I would be able to keep up with a day’s worth of work. And then just did my normal PDA (non-Internet connected) activities.

[NOTE: It was one day with just the Z22, while my other use with the Z22 included time with my other PDAs. This scenario was done in order to get a better feel for how Palm targeted the Z22 compared to previous entry level models.]

Well, for starters, the battery life on the Z22 is nothing short of incredible. I have had many color PalmOS PDAs, but the Z22 by far is the best. At the end of the day, with showing pictures, beaming information from my other PalmOS PDA, and an occasional alarm, the battery meter is still at full. How full? Filez (a 3rd party file management program) reports it at 99%. This is practically amazing in this day and time where items need to be recharged every night. I could easily use this for one or two weeks and not have any problems with power. And with the non-volatile memory, even if the power goes down to nothing, I will not lose my information.

The other aspect that was pleasant with the Z22 is its screen. It’s not a great screen. I have a T5 that has a much, much better screen (because of a higher resolution and viewable area). But, for its purpose as an entry-level PDA, this screen is a good one. I would venture to say that it is even better than the similar Treo 600 screen (the Treo’s screen is much brighter, but the colors aren’t as full). There is very little of the ghosting effect that previous PalmOS PDAs with this type of screen have had (much less than what I see even with my Treo 600 which has a similar resolution, but is physically larger). I asked my fiance to judge the screen of the Z22 compared to the Zire 21. She remarked that it is a lot clearer than the 21 and the added backlight makes a huge difference in when you can use it (the Zire 21 did not have a backlight and therefore was of no use in low/no light situations).

Also, being that I’ve had my share of PDAs, I wanted to see how applications fared with the Z22. The hardest thing was being mindful that some of the newer games that have been released do no support the lower resolution screen of the Z22. I was able to beam and play Astraware’s Sudoku with no issue, but not Bejeweled 2.

There is also an improved version of the AddIt program on the Z22. With previous Palm models, I pretty much ignored this as all it gives is a listing of some applications that you can try. This functionality is still there, but now, within the AddIt program, there are some freeware games and programs that one can try, as well as select other programs to try. When you select the program that you want to try, AddIt asks if you want download it at the next HotSync. You click yes, and then the next time you HotSync, the AddIt conduit goes online and downloads the application, then installs it for use on your Z22. You can also download news articles via Reuters via AddIt, making it a nice program for those times when you might want to read some news without installing additional software.

Because the Z22 is a low-resolution (160×160 pixels on the screen) Palm OS device, it is harder to find some of the newer games and applications that are compatible with it. But you aren’t totally left out in the cold as there are some applications, especially the ones listed in the AddIt program, which are compatible and look very nice on the Z22′s screen.

Final Comments

So what is my final opinion about the Z22, the newest entry level PDA from Palm? Well, honestly, I like it. I think for those just looking for a simple organizer to compliment their goings and comings or to replace paper, it works just great. For a college student or soccer mom, or someone who hasn’t yet embraced a PDA, the Z22 is a well made and inexpensive device to own. Programs such as AddIt and the enhanced PIM applications, the non-volatile memory, outstanding battery life, well executed design and light weight, will make the Z22 a hit for this holiday season for many a gift giver. And at $99, it’s a heck of a nice gift price for all that it can bring to one’s life.

Pricing and Availability: Palm Zire 22 Pricing


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