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Palm Z22

Editor's rating (1-5):
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Reviewed Oct. 12, 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Welcome to the first sub $100 PDA with a color screen. Need a small device that can replace your alarm clock, keep phone numbers handy, track to-do's for you, show family photos and work as a digital ink pad that will never run out? Never used a PDA before? Then the Z22 is for you. The Z22 isn't aimed at 2nd or 3rd time PDA buyers but rather at those of you who are still imprisoned by paper and are surrounded by Post It Notes and ever so losable Day-Timers and address books. It can hold thousands of contacts, calendar items and to-do's, yet weighs only 3.4 ounces and fits smartly in the hand.

Palm Z22 PDA
back of Palm Z22 PDA


The Z22's name pays homage to the Zire line, though Palm has abandoned their Tungsten and Zire product names, they've kept the initial to denote the device type (Tungsten models denote heavy duty and business uses while Zires are for consumers who just want to get organized and have some fun with their devices). The Z22 is similar in design and features to the Zire 31, which sells for $30 more but adds an SD slot for memory expansion.

Design and Ergonomics

The Z22's rugged plastic casing should survive some bumps and whacks in the purse or briefcase. Yet it's attractive and very light by PDA and even cell phone standards. The front is finished in gloss white and the back is a dark translucent blue. Look really hard and you'll be able to see some of the PDA's innards, though in most lighting conditions it looks like an opaque deep gloss ultramarine.

As an entry level device, the Z22 isn't mean to scare you away with a collection of unfathomable buttons and controls. The PDA has a power button on the left front face, and two application launcher buttons (calendar and contacts) flanking the large and easy to use directional pad. The stylus lives in a silo on the upper right edge and you'll use this to navigate on screen and write. The single mini-USB connector is located on the top edge and both the sync cable and charger plug into the connector.




Deals and Shopping







The Z22 is powered by a 200 MHz processor and has 32 megs of flash memory, 20 megs of which are available to store your data (contacts, calendar items, 3rd party applications, photos eBooks and more). That's a reasonable amount of starter memory but if you're technically inclined and expect to ramp up quickly to serious PDA use, consider a model with more memory such as the Palm Tungsten E or Tungsten E2. You likely will never run out of space for your contacts, calendar and other organizational data, but if you want to carry lots of photos, eBooks or 3rd party applications, that 20 megs will seem mighty small. Unlike most other PDAs, the Z22 does not have an SD expansion slot to expand memory.

Should you wish to beam contacts, photos or other information to other PDA users, you can do so using the Z22's IR port (all PDAs have IR ports). You can also use an IR folding keyboard with the Z22 such as Palm's $69 Universal Wireless Keyboard.

Display and Photo Viewing

The Z22 has a 160 x 160 pixel STN color display that shows thousands of colors. Palm doesn't state exactly how many colors, but to my eye it looks very similar to the 12 bit 4,096 color display found on the old Palm m130 and more recently the Zire 31. Unlike the Zire and Zire 21, it does have backlighting, so you'll be able to see the screen in dimly lit or dark locations. The Z22 has two brightness settings (low and high), and a contrast slider. While not nearly as good as the transflective display found on more expensive PDAs, the screen is easy to see and read. It's got excellent contrast, brightness and good color saturation for an STN display. STN stands for super twisted nematic, and is reminiscent of older laptop displays. Photos look OK on the Z22 but not as vibrant or sharp as on the Palm Tungsten E. The included Photo application is the place to view photos you've transferred to your PDA. Though not breathtaking, the images beat dog-eared photos that have lived in wallets for far too many years.

Software and Syncing

The Z22 come with Palm Desktop for Windows and Mac. This easy to use application allows you to transfer contacts, calendar items, tasks and memos to and from your PDA. You can sync these items directly to Palm Desktop, which can function as your computer's organizer, or you can sync to MS Outlook. In addition you can sync photos and install software using Palm Desktop. To enter information directly into the Z22, you'll use the included Graffiti 2 handwriting recognition software and the stylus, or the on-screen keyboard.

To get organized you'll use Palm's standard contacts, calendar (with agenda view), memos and tasks. The PDA also comes with a world clock, expense tracker, calculator, photo viewer with album feature, Astraware's Crazy Daisy game, and several useful apps that live inside the Addit PDA applications (Carb Counter, 1st Aid, Check Split and Chess). You can of course install 3rd party programs using Palm Desktop's HotSync and there are a wealth of Palm OS titles available from games to MS Office applications.


The Z22 has a 900 mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that's not user replaceable. That's a good size battery for a unit with the Z22's features and it should last you up to a week on a charge when using PIM apps, viewing photos and playing games. If you play lots of intensive games, you will get somewhat shorter runtimes.


The Z22's combined charging and sync port are on the top. The PDA has a mini-USB connector and comes with a mini-USB to USB sync cable and a US charger. Since there isn't a cradle with a HotSync button, you'll initiate a HotSync by pressing the silk screen HotSync button or by pressing the HotSync icon in the program launcher on screen. Like all Palm brand PDAs, syncing works well. Since this is a USB-only device, you will need to be running Windows 98 or newer if you're a PC user. Mac users can use OS 9 or OS X. You can of course instead sync via the IR port if your computer has an IR port.


A great unit for those who still haven't gotten into PDAs but want to be more organized and know their data is securely synced to their desktop. It's small, light, durable and attractive. Great starter PDA for kids (yes, it can play games!).

Pro: Very affordable. Light, small and attractive alternative to carrying around paper-based address books, organizers and scraps of paper. Since your data is synced to your computer, it's safe even if the PDA is lot or broken, unlike paper-based products. Makes a nice portable digital photo album, though the screen won't knock your socks off.

Con: Screen is just OK (hey, a color PDA for $99, we can't complain too much). Those inclined to becoming serious PDA users will find 20 megs inadequate. If you're a technophile, consider a higher end PDA. If you just want to get organized and carry a few photos and games with you, then consider the Z22.

Price: $99

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Display: 160 x 160 pixel color display.

Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 200 MHz processor. 32 MB Flash ROM with 20 megs available in for your use.

Size: 4.06 x 2.7 x .6 inches. Weight: 3.4 ounces.

Audio: Built in speaker.

Networking: None.

Software: Palm OS Garnet 5.4.9. Calendar, contacts, tasks, memos, expense, calculator, world clock, photo viewer, Crazy Daisy (game), and other useful applications. Palm Desktop for syncing to PCs and Mac included.

Expansion: IR port.


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