palmOne Releases the Zire 31

palmOne today officially announced the Zire 31. It is the first sub-$150 color, full featured handheld to include mp3 audio and SD memory expansion.

palmOne has also announced the new Zire 72 handheld, a multimedia-capable handheld with a built-in 1.2 megapixel digital camera and audio/video playback ability.

“With its bright, colorful screen, the Zire 31 handheld is the first color, full-featured handheld introduced at less than $150,” said Ken Wirt, palmOne senior vice president and general manager of the Handheld Business Unit. “The Zire 31 handheld will keep your schedule, hold your phone numbers, store photos of family and friends, even play MP3s or games.”

The palmOne Zire 31 runs Palm OS 5.2.8 on a 200Mhz Intel ARM -based processor and includes 16MB of memory (14MB user available). It has dimensions of 4.4 x 2.9 x .6 inches and weighs 4.1 ounces. It has a 160x160 pixel color STN display that supports thousands of colors. The Zire 31 also includes a 5 way navigation button, SD memory expansion slot and has a 900mAh capacity rechargeable battery.

palmOne expects the Zire 31 handheld to attract new as well as upgrade customers with the MP3 functionality and the added benefit of color and enhanced readability. Students and superparents want an easy-to-use device that supports all aspects of their lives: family, friends, school and work. This new handheld is for people who need an easy-to-carry device to replace bulky paper organizers, but who are not willing to spend a lot of money or time managing daily responsibilities.

The Zire 31 retails for $149 USD and is available now from the palmOne online store.

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Hope they are in stores

Vidge @ 4/28/2004 12:14:09 AM #
Glad to see this announcement. Here's hoping they are in stores in my area tomorrow!

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RE: Hope they are in stores
LiveFaith @ 4/28/2004 12:29:45 AM #
Buttons & styling? Another niche device from P1 that should help sell another 3million. But, is it just me or are those some of the most un-attractive buttons and frumpy looks? The d-pad looks like someone left the the cover-plate off and the unbalanced button layout looks like they forgot the the 4th one on the right.
Ayhh, enough whining, I need to see it in person I guess.
1st devices with "PalmOne" on the front. 12 bit color in lo rez ... is this the m130 screen?

Pat Horne;
RE: Hope they are in stores
JonathanChoo @ 4/28/2004 9:03:05 AM #
I might get this for my dad. He has a m515 and don't need all the gizmos. But this has a much faster processor and not to mention mp3, this is damn good value. Might get this for my sister too and my mum...

Psion 5> Vx > m505 > N770C > T625C > NR70V > e310 > T/T > HP h2210 > T/T3 & h4150
StarTac 75 > T28m > T39m > T68m > T610 > T630
RE: Hope they are in stores
lorenolson @ 4/28/2004 9:46:09 PM #
Mine will be here FedEx in the morning. Let you know then what I think of it.

RE: Hope they are in stores
LiveFaith @ 4/29/2004 11:33:49 PM #

Hey throw one of those my way since your being so generous. And since you've upgraded that T610, I would be glad to have that with my T3. :-)

Pat Horne;

RE: Hope they are in stores
wildeny @ 5/1/2004 6:26:09 PM #
Why not choose PEG-TJ35? The price now is just $159 in NewEgg including shipping. The screen is 320x320 and has more ram. The OS is not so updated but still is OS 5.2.
Initially, I thought Zire 31 is a good deal for people who don'e need too many features. But I really concern about the screen quality and the size.

New Palm OS?

Krhainos @ 4/28/2004 12:18:08 AM #
I see a background on that Agenda page -- I'm assuming this is one of the features of Garnet?

RE: New Palm OS?
bcombee @ 4/28/2004 1:47:29 AM #
The Agenda page is a PalmOne-specific change that they made to the Palm OS standard PIM applications; they introduced their own altered applications with the Tungsten T3 and Tungsten E, and it looks like they've updated them more for these two devices. These changes are not part of the standard Palm OS Garnet platform, and are only likely to appear on PalmOne devices.

Ben Combee - PDA programmer weblog

Passive matrix transmissive display!

jkirvin @ 4/28/2004 12:31:34 AM #
I know they had to keep the cost down, but this is going to hurt sales of the unit. This is essentially the same screen as the m130 and the same tech as the Palm III and Jornada 540. Ghosting is going to make this painful for game playing and it will be bloody impossible to see outdoors. Bad call, PalmOne.

RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
ti89guy @ 4/28/2004 3:00:22 AM #
I saw this screen at work yesterday and it is indeed bad. Why they want to use a STN display is beyond me. It looks to be a nice unit otherwise, the features are quite good for a unit of the price, but the screen is just awful.
RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
dona83 @ 4/28/2004 3:00:29 AM #
Okay, probably you're not going to buy it as most people who go to because, surprise, there are way better models out there. However I see this as an affordable gift I can give to my girlfriend, the MP3 player is a huge bonus. Some people new to the PDA market are gonna walk into the store, play around with the Zire 31, and at $150USD/$230CAD, know that it's a pretty damn good deal. a 5 years ago $200CAD got me a Handspring Visor Pro with 8MB, monochrome screen, 16mhz Dragonball processor. Sure I would've liked the Palm V or the Handspring Platinum Pro but I needed a $200 PDA. I got my Tungsten T for $500CAD, all my classmates are amazed by what a Palm Pilot can do these days but are iffy on paying more than $200 on one... Yes there is the Zire 21 but who the hell wants that? $230 is an excellent deal and some of my classmates now have a choice on a pretty cool device at a pretty affordable price.


RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
bcombee @ 4/28/2004 4:14:42 AM #
One thing to note: my guess is that PalmOne decided to price this at $149 in order to "extract the most value" from the "Dads & Grads" season, the time around the end of the school year and Father's Day that's a pretty big gift-giving season here in the US. While I don't know what kind of component pricing PalmOne is getting, I'd guess that they would be able to drop the price on this to $129 or less by the holiday season, making it a big Christmas seller. Using a better screen wouldn't give them sufficient margin to drop the price as much later in the year.

Ben Combee - PDA programmer weblog
Same screen as on Treo600!!!!?
gfunkmagic @ 4/28/2004 6:07:15 AM #
FYI, the Treo 600 also uses a CSTN 160x160 resolution screen. Can some one here post and compare the screen dimensions of the Zire 31 and Treo 600? I would be very curious to know if PalmOne is using the same display in these two devices because it has been widely reported that they have had major supplier issues with this screen resulting in major shortages of the Treo 600. Is it possible PalmOne used this screen in the Z31 in order to get better pricing for the Treos? Hmm...

Anyway, this is a good deal for the money imo. Once retailers start discounting the Z31 another 15-20 bucks...these should start flying off the shelves!!!

I support


RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
Strider_mt2k @ 4/28/2004 9:41:42 AM #
Anyone wanting a better display simply needs to shell out more $$$ for a better unit.

This is the bargain basement folks, don't get all twitchy now.

RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
Admin @ 4/28/2004 11:04:05 AM #
Yes both the Treo 600 and the Zire 31 use a STN screen. However, the Treo's is much much better. The screen on the Zire 31 is not terrible but it's not so hot either. It is a bit dim and blue-hued and has a slow refresh rate.


RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
LiveFaith @ 4/28/2004 11:47:38 AM #
Doesn't the Sony SJ22 have a hi-rez screen for around $100? I know the 31 has > features, but that m130 screen was as weak as Martha Stewart's defense.

Pat Horne;
RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
rsc1000 @ 4/28/2004 12:04:54 PM #
>>Doesn't the Sony SJ22 have a hi-rez screen for around $100? I know the 31 has > features, but that m130 screen was as weak as Martha Stewart's defense.

True it has a 320 x 320 color screen for the same price ($149 from sony - though maybe you've found it for the $99 price somewhere, i couldn't find it for less than 149) but the sj 22 has a 33mhz dragonball (vs 200mhz ARM processor), uses OS 4.1 vs 5.2, and cannot play mp3s.

RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
Jeffry @ 4/28/2004 3:07:18 PM #
HEY, at least colour beats having a non-backlit greyscale display.

RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
Strider_mt2k @ 4/28/2004 3:20:34 PM #
You can say that again!

(But don't say it too loudly, those old Zire owners are a bit rabid when it comes to the backlighting issue.) ;)

RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
Vidge @ 4/28/2004 7:50:46 PM #
I went out today with every intention of buying one of these. But after playing with it in the store for about half an hour, I just couldn't. The screen on the unit was horrible IMHO. Nothing I could do to it would make it readable - and it wasn't just the sharpness of the 160x160 display. The thing has 2 brightness settings: high and low. On low, the screen was so dim that it was unreadable in the store! And there is a contrast slider, which goes from black to white. Even so, I still couldn't make out the little dots on the preferences screen. And some of the color themes really looked bad.

It's a real shame that Palm had to cut corners on the screen; otherwise, this would be a great entry-level handheld.

Moderator, Daily Gadget
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Z31 screen = Treo600 screen
gfunkmagic @ 4/29/2004 12:14:43 AM #
>>>>>>Yes both the Treo 600 and the Zire 31 use a STN >>>>>screen. However, the Treo's is much much better. >>>>The screen on the Zire 31 is not terrible but >>>it's not so hot either. It is a bit dim and blue->>>hued and has a slow refresh rate.

Ryan, have you seen the screens PalmOne is putting in the new PalmOne branded Treo600's lately. There have been several threads regarding this over at Treocentral comparing the screens of the older Handspring branded Treos and newer PalmOne branded ones and the screens are definitely different. According to reports, the new screens are much dimmer and have blueish tinge to them that was not present in the older Treos which would descirbe them exactly as you have done with the Z31 screens. Alot of people are dissatisfied with the new screens and now it seems plausible that PalmOne is using the same screens in both the Treo600 and Z31...

I support


RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
hkklife @ 4/29/2004 11:41:10 AM #
I have been all over town and have not yet been able to locate a single Z31 to demo. I have to purchase someone a gift before Sunday and this would be the perfect first-time PDA for someone but I've got to see just how bad the screen is.

Can anyone out there who has had firsthand experience with the Z31 and the old m130 give some feedback? I mean, we all know the Z31's disappointing next to any of the current P1 devices.

But how does it compare to the Treo 90 & Palm m130 screens? Is it ANY better than those? Is it even within shouting distance (I mean actual LCD panel quality & illumination, lower resolution aside) to the T|T and T|W screens?


RE: Passive matrix transmissive display!
dchev @ 5/4/2004 11:40:35 AM #
Wow - I know this echos above comments, but this display is really really awful! I've had the displeasure of using a zire 31 for a few hours.

The display looks far worse than the m130.
Besides the resolution/color stuff mentioned above, this thing actually has a perceptible flicker!!! (I'm under fluorescent lights)

I've done the digitizer calibration a few times and the screen still doesn't seem to register taps in the right places and with the right sensitivity (I have to press and hold!)

Maybe this is a bad unit? Interested to hear if others have the flicker / tap issues as well.

Shades of the m505...
;-o @ 5/4/2004 10:14:33 PM #
I believe Palm's pricepoint gambles have backfired. Sophisticated users probably now will be reluctant to ever trust Palm again on a $400 high end PDA. Palm's $200 - $300 PDAs are now undercut by Sony. Profits on the $100 PDAs are slim.

And impulse buyers will take one look at the Zire 31 screen compared to the T3 etc. and laugh.

Palm will soon be moving its new corporate HQ to Chapitreonze - that little town just off the 280, north of San Jose (between Arocque and Aardplaice).

Dear Lord, please bless the Caneman and Boy Blunder. Please keep them safe from harm.

For Sale: Palm Zire 31 (Mint in box) $49 O.B.O.
;-o @ 5/10/2004 6:19:28 PM #
email me at

Serious offers only, please.

You like me! You really like me!

;-o @ 5/10/2004 6:38:05 PM #
Please do not send any more emails - PDA has been sold.

You like me! You really like me!


Gekko @ 4/28/2004 8:51:36 AM #
But where's my T4?

RE: T4
LiveFaith @ 4/28/2004 11:56:12 AM #
C'mon, Arnold hasn't even done that yet!

Pat Horne;
RE: T4
LiveFaith @ 4/28/2004 11:58:03 AM #
Hey seriously now. I predict that if the Tungsten class has been "snubbed" in this spring's update, that the one around the corner (C2? W2?) will be OS Cobalt. Just a prediction.

Pat Horne;
RE: T4
ScottL @ 4/28/2004 12:01:04 PM #
OK how about a TE/2 then?

RE: T4
hkklife @ 4/28/2004 2:36:27 PM #
My fearless predictions are that sometime between late June (at the earliest) and late August (at the latest-the same time the T|T2 was announced last year), we'll see the announcement of the Treo 610 for Verizon (likely just updated software and maybe a better battery-nothing major like high-res or BT) and a Tungsten E2. The Treo 610 might just be the name given to a Verizon-exclusive Treo

The E2 will be basically the original T|E with 64mb, Blutooth, an improved D-pad, and a 320*320 screen. I bet it'll run Garnet. Then this fall we'll see the big wave of Tungstens running Cobalt/OS6 and hopefully some other goodies as well (*cough* dual wireless *cough*)

Not bad, but my idea was better ;)

Scott R @ 4/28/2004 8:56:24 AM #
Before the Z21 was announced I hoped that it would turn out to be a sub-$130 OS5 B&W device capable of playing MP3s. It wasn't. At $150 list, this is pretty much what I hoped that device would be but it adds $20 and a color screen, which on the surface seems like a good value. However, as others here have stated, the color screen is of poor quality, it will be hard to read outdoors (where a lot of people might want to use an MP3 player while jogging, etc.) and will drain more battery life.

IMO, a better device would be that $130 B&W version that I hoped for before. Or, perhaps a $150 B&W version with 128MB or 256MB on-board RAM, so that people can play MP3's right off the bat. With this they'll still need to shell out another $60+ to get a 256MB memory card.

My point is that having a basic, no frills, PDA/MP3 convergence device at a cheap price point could be a huge seller. I'm not sure they got it quite right here.

Along those lines, I'd also recommend tweaking the physical design so as to add hard buttons for MP3 functionality (and/or make the existing ones serve double-duty so, for example, the DateBook button might also be the "Play" button, etc.) and they'd label them appropriately.

- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
JonathanChoo @ 4/28/2004 9:14:43 AM #
Bt nobody cares about greyscale anymore. Even £40 mobile phones (without contract) has colour. Colour means more than RAM. If someone were to sell me a laptop with 256Mb RAM with 32-bit colour or 1Gb RAM with 2-bit greyscale I rather take the colour with low RAM.

There are probably not many manufacturers who are making greyscales 160x160 screens anymore and in the long run it might actually be cheaper to get colour.

And don't make me laugh, there is no way palm or any PDA manufacturers would ever put a 128Mb RAM on a low end PDA even if they remove all the frills to keep the cost down.

Psion 5> Vx > m505 > N770C > T625C > NR70V > e310 > T/T > HP h2210 > T/T3 & h4150
StarTac 75 > T28m > T39m > T68m > T610 > T630

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
Scott R @ 4/28/2004 9:23:05 AM #
Nobody cares about grayscale? That must be why the iPod is selling so horribly.

- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
viqsi @ 4/28/2004 9:36:18 AM #
scott: I think the idea is that nobody cares about greyscale *in a multifunction device* such as a PDA. :) (And those low-cost phones, because of address books and such, would be considered multifunction devices.) On a device where most of your usage revolves around the screen, Color Is Good.

The iPod is a dedicated player whose primary usage is to sit in your pocket (or whereever) when you listen, and occasionally change songs, and last as long as possible. For that, color doesn't really matter at all. (and before you argue that it's used for other things, keep in mind that these are all third-party hacks :) )

That being said, I'm inclined to disagree with the post anyways, seeing as though half my family with Palms have grayscale screens and don't mind at all. But then again, my siblings do not exactly constitute a significant segment of the market. :D

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
hkklife @ 4/28/2004 9:38:36 AM #
I will also raise a bloodied hand to agree that every greyscale PDA done so far has been rather half-a**ed in its screen quality.

If done properly, a m500-style PDA with a full feature set (priced between $100 and $125) would sell well to the "dads'n grads" segment. Basically, a large paper-white screen (ipod style) with strong illumination and minimal ghosting/blurring. I really think that the Zire31 was released only to still be profitable at $100-$125ish later on this year around Christmastime.

It'd still be be nice to see a "genuine" $150 model....basially a Tungsten E with 16mb ram and no audio capabilities. Now that'd be a hot seller!

Nevertheless, I'm interested to hear the reports or see a Z31 myself to see just HOW bad the screen is and if there are any improvements at all over the miserable m130 screen--truly the worst screen ever on a PDA from the modern age!

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
Scott R @ 4/28/2004 10:17:40 AM #
I'm certainly not recommending that this B&W screen lack backlighting. That omission was a huge mistake on palmOne's part with the original Zire and Zire 21. But even a poor quality B&W screen has much better outdoor visibility than most (all?) of these color screens.

We'll have to agree to disagree, but I think the low-end mass consumer market sees value in MP3 playback and value in basic PIM functionality, but a low-res poor quality color screen would be less valuable. Remember that most of the color phones these days have a camera. If you have a camera, you have to have a color screen (no matter how bad it is).

Part of my point is that the do-everything PDA concept doesn't scale well. If you're making a $500 uber-PDA, you can make it do a decent job of doing many things, but if you try to scale that to a $150 device, it's going to do a lot of things really badly. Better to remove features but make the features that it does have work really well. I see no reason why a B&W 160x160 PDA with MP3, 256MB on-board RAM, and hard-application buttons which operate the MP3 functionality couldn't be built to be profitable at $150. And I think it could be a hot seller. The geeks here will bash me for this, but I even think a B&W model with a 4GB HD for under $300 could be built and also would be quite hot.

- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
dona83 @ 4/28/2004 11:10:46 AM #
The only reason I got back into PDAs was the Tungsten T. Without the hi res colour screen, faster processor, "huge" amounts of onboard memory, and multimedia capabilities, I wouldn't have considered one in the first place. That being said, the Zire 31 would probably be an excellent gift for a student or anyone else who's never had a PDA before, and might at least find some use with the Zire 31 over the Zire 21. Even if the colour screen is just a few years ahead of archaic, I see this as a well executed product. Well just reduce it to $129 and I'm completely sold. =) Remember not everyone wants the bells and whistles, and under the law of economics, PalmOne and individual retailers can reduce the price until they find the sweet spot. If this PDA is indeed a hot seller at $150, then kudos to them then. =)


RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
mikecane @ 4/28/2004 2:51:53 PM #
The point is being missed:

This is the UPGRADE for all those people who bought the non-backlit monochrome Zires. All those people who Tried It, Liked It, and Want More -- but Not Expensively.

These people do not play zoomzoomgames. They look up phone numbers, put things in their schedules and to do lists, and jot notes. Maybe -- just maybe -- they might venture into ebooks. And just maybe they will venture into MP3s.

And if they do those two new things, maybe they will move up to the next level of PalmOS device.

RE: Not bad, but my idea was better ;)
mikecane @ 4/28/2004 2:56:18 PM #
Hmmm... and for myself I was just thinking, since I can't decide of what fekkin high-end device to get, maybe I should just get this in order to ditch my monochrome CLIE S320 screen.

I don't play zoomzoomgames either, you see!

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