Based on popular demand [1, 2], I was just about ready to crack open my Palm and clean out the camera lens fuzz — if only lens fuzz had been the only problem to deal with. Now my Palm Zire 71 has fallen prey to a far more serious camera-related design flaw, detailed in this discussion thread: frequent camera usage causes fraying of the internal sync/charge cable, so that with repeated movement of the Z71’s camera slider, the unit gradually loses its ability to Hotsync and charge from the Palm Universal Connector.

This, plus the lens fuzz issue, and a persistent, high-pitched whine from the color screen, have prompted me to abandon the Z71 for a much cheaper, simpler unit. My new Zire 31 arrived this week, and I’ve been up late gradually transferring data to it.

So how much do you think the old Zire 71 will go for, sold with its original CD-ROM and cradle, a free sync/charge cable, and a 32MB SD card? Aside from camera lens fuzz, broken HotSync, and a small speck of debris stuck under the righthand side of the screen, it’s fully functional, and can still take decent pictures if you “tap” the fuzz out of the way. Someone with hardware experience, some precision screwdrivers, a soldering iron, and a steady hand could even bring it back to youthful vibrancy.

More on the new Zire 31 soon.