Palm Zire 72

Quick look

Personal digital assistant


Price: $299


Phone: 800-881-7256


Online: www.palmone.com

Palm Zire 72

Finding your optimal personal digital assistant isn't easy. The best way to do it is to write down everything you want in a handheld, including the price you're willing to pay, and look up specs online until you find what you need.

If your list includes the usual items found on most PDAs'contacts, notes, address and tasks applications'but also has an MP3 player and digital camera, you might want to check out the Palm Zire 72. Measuring only 4.6 by 2.9 by 0.67 inches and weighing 4.8 ounces, it's very portable and easy to use.

The Palm OS version 5.2.8 gives you easy access to applications. Extra features on the Zire's installation disc let you view Microsoft Office files.

The Zire 72 uses RealOne software to play MP3 files, stored in the unit's 24M of embedded memory or on a MultiMedia, SecureDigital card, which fits easily in the Zire 72's expansion port.

The Zire 72 also comes with a 3.5-mm stereo headphone plug, though headphones are sold separately. More important, the Zire 72's Bluetooth capabilities let you wirelessly share files and pictures, or send e-mail and surf the Internet via an Internet Service Provider and Bluetooth-enabled cell phone.

The back of the Zire 72 houses the camera and a speaker/microphone. Normally, embedded speakers and microphones don't work very well on PDAs, but both features on the Zire 72 were easy to use and very effective.

Pictures also are typically difficult to view on handhelds because of their low-resolution displays, but I was taken aback by the clean and crisp, 320-by-320-pixel resolution on the 72. Images look great on its 16-bit screen, capable of rendering over 65,000 colors.

Priced at $299, the Zire 72 is like a great Swiss Army knife: It has everything you need, and features like the five-way navigation button make it easy to use.

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