Palm Z22

SoyPalm.jpg I’ve been a big fan of Palm for a while, but the last time I wrote in detail about a Palm device was three years ago, when the Zire 31 (to which I downgraded to replace the broken Zire 71) completely died just four months after I got it — and a month past warranty. I downgraded yet again after that and got the cheapest new Palm handheld out at the time, a Palm Z22, bought secondhand off eBay for $80. (My older Palms were both sold on eBay as-is to people in need of cheap parts.)

So I’ve had the Z22 since then, and there’s not much to say about it other than that it’s a very cheap and very basic Palm handheld with a color screen and all the standard features: PIM software, HotSync and charge via mini-USB, infrared, 32MB solid-state memory (24.6MB usable), and, well, that’s about it. No bluetooth, no memory card slot, only two user-programmable hardware buttons plus D-pad and power. Like I said, very basic, but good old reliable Palm OS is sufficient for all my personal data needs — calendar, address book, task list, memo pad, graphical notes, and of course, the all-important Bejeweled, Space Trader, iRogue, and SFCave.

IMG_0521.JPG The screen is a low-quality 160×160 STN with a noticeably slow refresh rate (especially in the cold), and the screen surface turned out to be somewhat scratch-prone, getting a nasty dent which interferes with finger movement, thanks to jostling in a bag with keys. (Oops.) The processor, a previous-generation 200 MHz ARM, while it suffices for basic functionality, is just this side of too slow, with a subtle but noticeable lag between button-press or Graffiti-gesture and actual response. This made note-taking a bit awkward for the first few weeks, as I’d gotten accustomed to fast Graffiti 2 writing, but I got used to the response time and managed okay. (Some realtime games do get a bit hard to use with the lag, but you get used to that too.)

Despite these shortcomings the Palm Z22 has been a satisfactory general-use handheld, and I’ve always regarded Palm OS, even on this slower device, as the definitive personal data management operating system: fast, simple, intuitive, usable, with all the features I need. Sadly it seems that this noble old mobile platform is on its way out: the Foleo dead-end and the slow turnaround on a new Linux-based Palm OS are killing gains made with the Treo and the Centro. Palm devices are languishing in the dust behind iPhones, Blackberries, Nokia tablets, and the now-growing subnotebook market (in which Foleo would have been crushed had it been released). I’ve loved the Palms I’ve had, but it’s looking like the Z22 may be my last Palm handheld, barring some miracle from Palm this year.

Which is why I now have a Nokia 770, and I’ve upgraded my Nokia phone, too. More on that in a bit.