Journal: News & Comment

Friday, October 25, 2002
# 12:14:00 AM:

The new Palm Zire: good, but not for me

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I use an 8 MB Palm IIIxe organizer (circa 1999) and obviously am not in the target market for the new $100 US ($165 Cdn) Palm Zire, but not because it's fundamentally the wrong product idea for me. Here's why: the two most important things for me in a Palm are the amount of memory and the backlight. And I hardly ever use the device to keep track of contact information and to-do's.

I mostly do two things:

  • Read downloaded online content (including TidBITS, friends' weblogs, and a number of other channels I have customized) using the AvantGo Mobile Internet service -- which still doesn't provide a native Mac OS X sync conduit, so I end up syncing using our house Windows PC or on the rare occasion I'm booted into Mac OS 9.

  • Read and write using the WordSmith Palm word processor, in which I compose and edit rough drafts of articles and read longer content like daily issues of Salon from my Salon Premium download subscription.

I often do all that Palm reading in bed, while my wife sleeps, and the backlight is the reason I can. And 2 MB won't hold the applications I use and leave enough room for actual content to work with.

So if I dropped and broke my IIIxe, I'd have to hunt for a clearance Palm m105, which does everything I need for the same price as the Zire. Or try finding another IIIxe on eBay, I guess. The higher-end models with colour screens, snazzy metal cases, wireless modems, built-in video cameras, MP3 players, wireless phones, and so on are just too expensive for what I need. Handspring still makes some decent low-end models, though, and even Sony's bottom-line Cli&eagu; organizers are getting into a better price range.

If the Zire had a backlight and even 4 MB of memory, I might consider it as a replacement because of its price and the battery. But when it drops to $50 US ($85 Canadian), I'd recommend it to friends if they need the basic organizer functionality.


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