Palm Zire 72 will blow your mind

PalmOne Inc., previously known as Palm, has recently launched the latest addition to its range of PDAs -- the Palm Zire 72. This PDA is geared for both business users and consumers alike, catering for the needs of both.

The Palm Zire 72 features everything that you have come to expect from a PDA, including a calendar, task registry and contact database, as well as a host of other applications, designed to make your life a lot easier, and, at the same time, far more entertaining. All these applications run on the Palm OS, version 5.2.8.

Take it out of the box and you will immediately be impressed by its sleek, curvaceous, funky blue shell, complete with one-touch buttons for launching your favorite applications. Plug it into your PC and load the software included in the box and you can replace your over-paid personal assistant and manage your own days.

On the communications side of things, the Zire 72 performs a two-in-one job. Firstly, you can synchronize your contact details, calendar appointments and tasks with either your PC or Macintosh -- this is done via the included USB cable.

Secondly, you can pair it to your cell phone, either via the built-in infrared or the Bluetooth interface. Once you have linked your Zire to your cell phone, you are ready to browse the Internet. Quite a handy feature, seeing that you can download Web pages over GPRS instead of using the costly and slower GSM method.

Linking up to your cell phone, also means you can download your e-mail from a POP3 account, send messages via an SMTP account, or even connect to a VPN. With your Zire and phone paired, you will never have to worry about finger-cramps after typing your SMSs -- simply write them on your PDA and send away.

On the technical side, the Zire 72 features a 312MHz Intel PXA270 processor and 32MB of internal memory. You will be pleased to know that the Zire also has a secure digital (SD) and multimedia memory card slot for backing up those important contacts, e-mails and appointments. A 320X320 65 000 TFT display and a 1.2 megapixel camera are sported by the Zire, and, what is more, you can even record your own home videos, complete with sound.

The Zire also makes for a great entertainment unit, as numerous games are available for downloading from the Internet, and it is able to play MP3s and even videos. Included with the Palm Zire 72 is a CD containing additional software, drivers for both Macintosh and PC and an instruction manual.

Pros: We were exceptionally surprised at how easy the Zire recognized our handwriting. Unlike other PDAs, you do not need perfect handwriting, and, if yours is so bad that not even the Zire can recognize it, you can always resort to the onscreen keyboard.

We found being able to synchronize with both a Macintosh and a PC to be quite a bonus. I mean, not only PC users need to be organized, do they? The one-touch buttons at the bottom of the TFT mean that you do not need to scroll through all your applications every time you want to check where your next appointment is, or to find a contact's telephone number.

Cons: Unfortunately you can only record videos once you have a memory card installed, quite a nuisance, seeing as the memory card does cost extra. The Zire 72 is not geared to pair with any Bluetooth cell phone. We found that we needed to download additional software from the PalmOne Web site before we could pair with a few models that we had in the office.

The Palm Zire 72 retails for about R2,500 (US$387) inclusive of VAT, and is available from Incredible Connection stores nationwide.

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