Palm Z22 Reviewby: Tam Hanna
October 10, 2006
Over the last few years, Palm has pushed the prices for organizers down. The original Palm Zire was the first organizer from a major brand that hit the sub – $100 price point, its successor the Palm Zire 21 increased memory and CPU frequency. When the original Zire was announced, a Palm spokesman gave a mostly unnoticed interview to the german c’t magazine stating that Palm could do a color machine for the same price point – a few years have passed, and here is the Palm Z22!
The Palm Z22 ships in a regular blister pack like we know it from the Palm Tungsten E2. The orange box contains a USB charging cable, a mains switching power supply, a protective “envelope”, a screen protector and a load of advertising paper.
When I had the Palm Z22 in my hand the first time, I immediately felt that the machine is extremely small. Indeed, the machine is one of the smallest handhelds ever produced – here are a few comparison shots next to various handhelds:
The Palm Z22 looks somewhat similar to an iPod with its white front and semitransparent blue tinted back. I don’t really like iPods, but the design seems to be very appealing to the Palm Z22’s target niche:
The slimness comes at a price though – the Z22 is a little thick, however, it fits into my hand well!
The included stylus is a bit shorter than most other styli – one does not notice this in everyday use though:
The reset hole in the back is big enough – one can press it with the stylus tip. This feature debuted with the Palm Tungsten T (link to PIC review), and can really make your life easier if you softreset a lot.
All Palm handhelds shipped with some kind of fliplid so far – the Z22 breaks with this tradition and ships with a FlexiSkin rubber style sleeve instead. This sleeve makes the handheld quite a bit fatter and does not protect the screen – IMHO, a fliplid would have been better!
The Palm Z22 has the standard Zireesque button layout – 5-way navigator, power button, calendar and contacts. Pressing the buttons feels good, although the “action distance” is a bit short for my taste.
Palm has used DSTN technology in all low-end color handhelds since the Palm m130. DSTN technology is inferior to TFT displays in terms of responsiveness (you see ghost images when stuff moves fast, especially in games), color quality and sunlight-resistance.
The low-res 160x160 pixel display of the Z22 I received as a review sample had a yellowish hue compared to a Palm IIIc or a Tungsten T3(Sharp screen). Big black areas like the Binary Clock for Palm OS bubbles was a bit “saggy” too…
In bright sunlight, the display system has no chance against transflective displays like the Tungsten T3’s (or against a digital camera’s flash):
Since the screen is a bit smaller than the Tungsten T3’s, one does not note the lowres pixelation so much – images still look pretty good!
In everyday use, the Z22 fares well though. I used the machine as main handheld for a day because my Tungsten T3 hardreset itself, and after a few minutes of readjustment I had no more problems with the screen. So, all those who fear an m505-like experience; rest assured as I had both, this screen is way better.
The Palm Z22 has NVFS memory, which means you will never loose your data if you forget to charge the unit. It has 32 MB of nonvolitile flash memory, of which 20MB is user accessible. After a hard reset, you have 20.6 megabytes of the total 24.6 available - deleting some of the ‘preinstalled’ files can expand this… However a weak point of the Z22 is that it does not offer memory expansion, so that's all you get.
For all non-techies, the Palm Z22’s dynamic RAM is about 4 MB big, which is the regular Palm Size. However, the DB Cache is said to be 25 MB big - a value that astonishes me a bit…
Little is known about the ‘oddball’ 200 Mhz Samsung CPU in the Palm Z22 - in PalmPi, a benchmark run takes 4.6 seconds. A Palm Tungsten T3 takes roughly 2.7 seconds, more benchmark values for other devices are available here.
In Speedy, the Palm Z22 reaches 260MhZ. When you look at the details of the measurement (CPU 0.61/MEM 0.25/GRAPH 0.28), you immediately see that the Z22 has a very fast screen access (its lowres, TE2 has 0.51) and rather fast memory (TE2 has 0.19, which is a bit faster) - the CPU itself is not particularly fast for a 200 Mhz one…
For communication, the Palm Z22 can rely on its Mini USB port and on the IR beam port (works well with my T3). owever, connecting the Palm Z22 to a TCP/IP network isn’t easy, as Palm did not include a TCP/IP stack on the Z22 (like on the WristPDA). So connecting to directly to the internet is not possible with this model.
The Z22 has physical dimensions of 2.7" W x 4.06" H x 0.6" D (68.5 x 103 x 15 mm) and weighs 3.4 ounces (96 grams).
Altough the Z22 runs Palm OS 5, it does not support sampled sound. Basically, it still has the piezo beeper that we grew up with on classic Palm handhelds – however, the Z22 is quite a bit louder.
As already said, the Palm Z22 runs Palm OS Garnet and can thus run most Palm OS applications. Palm OS applications are available from various vendors and can greatly enhance the value and usefullness of a device.
Palm bundles the Z22 with a nice bit of software. First of all, in the ROM; there’s the standard PIM apps such as Calendar, Contacts, Memos, Tasks, Note Pad, Expense, Calculator, World Clock and Photos:
The PalmOne scientific calculator:
A photo viewer derived from Resco Photo Viewer:
An AstraWare game called Crazy Daisy:
And an application called AddIt. The interesting thing about this version of AddIt is that it contains a few games:
The CD that ships along the handheld contains the Palm Desktop, the Outlook conduits and the following third party applications:
- PowerOne Personal
If you want to get further software, look for software review sections of enthusiast sites or catalogues like the PalmInfocenter store.
Overall rating and ratings defence
When looking at the Palm Z22, you must keep its target audience in mind. The Z22 is intended for people who want a basic PDA or are new to the mobile technology world. For those, the Z22 has all they need and even more – for example, my mother would be more than happy with the machine. Also, developers looking for a cheap test machine to use for NVFS quirk busting will be more than happy about the Z22…
I thus give the Palm Z22 a solid 3.5/5 stars (keeping its target audience in mind) – the $99 price point and overall design is very attractive. I deducted half a point because the used equipment market (aka ebay) has recently seen drooping prices for machines like the Palm Treo 600 or the Tungsten T/E models – if you can miss out on the warranty, these older devices may also be worth a look!
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