things in small packages
by Alan Zisman (c) 2003 First published in Business in Vancouver
28- November 3, 2002 issue #731 GearGuide column
round of PDAs, phones and cameras packs more features than ever
The search for the perfect gadget
that fits in
a pocket continues. The newly resurgent Palm (now renamed PalmOne)
offers three new ones, with a range of features at a range of price
in a pocket
Last year, the company brought out
original Zire, featuring a new minimalist price ($149). It was
a best-seller with over a million sold, but its minimal memory and
features limited its expandability. This time around, Palm has replaced
it with the Zire 21, keeping the low-end price and monochrome
screen, but with a faster processor, new operating system version and
four times the memory the new model offers far more functionality.
Doubling the price to $299 gets you a
E, the lowest price member of Palm's business-focused lineup
includes a bright, high-resolution colour screen, a speaker (to play
MP3 music), expansion slot, 32 MB of memory (four times that of the
Zire 21), an easy-to-use five-way navigator button and a sleek silver
case reminiscent of the company's classic Palm V model. The bundled Dataviz
Documents to Go software lets users read and write Microsoft
Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents.
Double the price yet again, to $599
can get a Tungsten T3, the third generation Tungsten T. Like
last year's original model, it features a space-saving pull-down case
and built-in Bluetooth wireless. It adds a stunning 320x480 pixel
screen that can be used for extra viewing space in either vertical
("portrait") or horizontal ("landscape") orientation. The bright colour
screen, fast processor and 64 MB memory make it the best Palm ever for
multimedia. You can use it for photo and video viewing, playing MP3
music, and running RealAudio. As with the Tungsten E, users can work
with Microsoft Outlook and Office documents.
Palm has also updated its accessory
offering a range of stocking stuffers for PDA-users, from stylus to
keyboard to a 1.3 megapixel camera on a card.
in a phone
with service plan after rebates, made by Danger, Inc., who
calls it the Sidekick) combines PDA-style contacts and calendar
lists with a GSM/GPRS cell phone and e-mail, Web browsing, and AOL's
Instant Messenger service. The monochrome screen swivels around to
reveal a mini-keyboard, while a scroll wheel makes it easy to move
between functions or around the screen. The result is a package that's
surprisingly easy to use for something that fits in a shirt pocket.
Unlike traditional PDAs, the HipTop doesn't synchronize with a PC or
Mac. Instead, personal data is stored on distant servers, from which it
can be accessed either with the HipTop or by any computer with a Web
browser. An optional camera can be added, letting users take pictures
and instantly send them as e-mail attachments.
If you want better
picture quality and can
instant gratification of combining a camera with a PDA, Fujifilm's
$650 Finepix F410 also squeezes a lot into a pocket-sized
package. While it's really a three megapixel camera, like other Fuji
products, it can throw a punch beyond its weight, producing images as
large as six megapixels. It includes three-times optical and 4.4-times
digital zooms, and can also take video clips with sound, with length
limited only by your storage card.
The camera uses Fujifilm's new,
postage-stamp-size xD memory cards, which, like those of its
competitors, is only 16 MB. Be sure to budget for larger-capacity
As well, it can be used for video
or as a webcam.