Palm has done much to improve the Zire's tired image as a bare-bones PDA with the 71, adding a high-resolution color-screen and integrated camera.
Forget your impression of the Palm Zire as a strictly entry-level PDA. Palm closes the long-running multimedia gap between its PDAs and Pocket PCs with the Palm Zire 71 ($300 street), providing the young professionals who are its target audienceand anyone else who wants a multipurpose PDAwith a rich multimedia experience and a well-appointed personal productivity tool. A 144-MHz ARM processor powers the device, which also has 16MB of RAM (13MB is available for user storage), a 64K color display, and an integrated camera as well as a monaural speaker, stereo headphone jack, SD I/O slot, Palm Universal Connector, and rechargeable battery.
Although lacking the voice recorder, video recorder, and integrated keyboard of its closest Palm OS competitor, the Sony Clié NX70V
($599 list), the Zire 71 is a more affordable alternative and more than a step up from the original Zire
($100 street) with its monochrome screen, 2MB of RAM, and 16-MHz processor. The Zire 71 is in a class of its own.
The 5.2-ounce PDA comes in a two-part blue-and-silver case that measures 4.4 by 2.9 by 0.6 inches (HWD). Palm includes a charging/synchronization cradle and a top-closing pouch with a wrist strap. But listening to your favorite tunes requires separately purchased headphones and expansion media.
As soon as you view the Zire 71s bright, 320-by-320 backlit display, youll want to start taking pictures. Sliding the case up exposes the camera lens, activating the camera (and adding 0.8 inches of height) even if the PDA is off or youre working in an application. The 2.1-inch-square screen becomes your viewfinder; you can capture a shot in up to 640-by-480 resolution by pressing either the shutter button or the five-way navigation button. All the cameras features worked fine in our tests, and the shots we uploaded were suitable for casual e-mail and prints.
The Zire 71 supports other multimedia functions well, also. The Palm Photos application has an intuitive interface for managing shots and a separate screen for image-capture settings (including resolution and date stamp) that displays only when you activate the camera. The included video playback software is Kinoma Player PDA and Kinoma Producer for the PC. RealNetworkss RealOne Player for Palm and RealOne Player 2.0 for the PC let you manage music files, and Audible Player lets you listen to audio books and periodicals downloaded from Audibles Web site. The Zire 71s video and audio quality are about average for a PDA.
The Zire 71 runs the latest Palm OS, Version 5.2.1, and offers color themes to customize the PDA interface, Graffiti 2 input enhancements with an optional full-screen writing area, the PC Quick Install HotSync tool for easy management of multimedia and zipped files, and Palms standard PIM, productivity, and communication applications.
The Palm Zire 71 is an exciting, economically priced multimedia PDA that effectively integrates ease of use with multimedia features.