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Saturday, October 30, 2004 Electronics: PalmOne Zire 21 Handheld Electronics: PalmOne Zire 21 Handheld: "266 of 277 people found the following review helpful:
You'll be cursing the small, dim screen..., October 12, 2003
Reviewer: Steven Dennis (Reston, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(Top 500 Reviewer)
The new Zire Palm 21 is essentially an updated version of the original Zire, itself an update of the lowly m100, with the following changes:
* 8MB of Ram (still not upgradeable) vs. hobbled 2MB.
* A better battery.
* A slightly better processor. (This is largely irrelevant, because most Palm functions are nearly instantaneous anyway).

All of the other limitations of the original Zire still exist, chief among them the small, dim dark-grey on light-grey (so very 1979) screen and the utter lack of expandability.
Believe me, screen size matters when you are pointing and clicking on a tiny keyboard on your Palm. This is by far the smallest, dimmest screen you can buy.
The 8MB allows for only relatively basic address and scheduling functions, but is a big improvement from 2MB.
It's intended to be a starter model with limitations that will have you thirsting to upgrade, and often comes free with new computers.
The three PALM programs that I consider essential would come close to overwhelming this puppy. They are: Mapopolis (a mapping program from with keyword-searchable street maps), Avantgo (an online news service that downloads articles to your palm) and Vindigo (a restaurant, movie and city guide).
To me, this model is only for those misguided and poor folks who would have bought the now-discontinued original Zire model but want 8MB. There are far better models out there for only a few more bucks. You can find some of the excellent Handspring Visor or Palm's own Vx/m500/m515 models used for far cheaper, which feature larger, brighter grey screens and 8 MB. Sony's B/W CLIE line of Palm OS handhelds are also better, for a few more bucks.
If you can afford it, I'd definitely trade up to the Tungsten E -- which features 32MB, a brilliant hi-res color screen, expandability, MP3 and a slick form factor. It costs twice as much and is worth every penny.

Here's a basic PALM product guide:

Zire/Zire 21/Palm m100: Bottom of the line. Designed to suck you in but leave you wanting more. Think of this as the Chevy Chevette of Palms. Plagued by skimpy, dim screens.
Palm m505: Discontinued color model features horrible washed out color screen. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
Palm TUNGSTEN TE: The new standard for low-priced, high-value color palms. Features 320x320 brilliant screen, 32MB Ram, MP3 capability with headphone jack, high quality battery and slick, shirt-pocketable form factor.
Palm Zire 71: Excellent, but expensive model features a low-res digital camera that is Okay only for small web page photos or email.
Tungsten T2: Expensive model features drop down graffiti screen. Not worth the extra cash over the TE, unless you need/want Bluetooth.
Tungsten T3: Longer, 320x480 screen. Otherwise, similar to T2. Expensive.

For competitors, check out the Handspring Treo models, which feature thumbpads and a small form factor (some with phones).
But I've heard Sony's customer service is weak compared to Palm's easy-as-pie returns. These things do break from time to time, so keep that in mind.

Also compare to PocketPCs, which have started to come down into the two-hundred smacker price range, but still can't beat Palm's small form factor and ease of use...

If you haven't bought a Palm yet, now's a great time to try it. It's basically an extension and backup for your brain, and who doesn't need that?



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