Palm Zire 21
If you want a basic Palm-based PDA, but you don't need a gadget worthy of James Bond, the Zire 21 will serve your needs for a palatable $99. This no-frills monochrome PDA lets you use Palm's 5.1 OS with its handy built-in applications. You can also install bonus programs from the bundled Software Essentials CD, including apps for keeping track of passwords and reading electronic books. Look elsewhere for wireless capability, phone functions, and a pretty color screen, however.
The Zire 21's 8MB of memory (7.2MB actual storage capacity) can file away several years' worth of calendar entries and thousands of contacts. There is no expansion slot, though, so that 7.2MB of memory is all you get. Measuring 4.4 by 2.9 by 0.6 inches and weighing a scant 3.8 ounces, the Zire 21 slips easily into a pocket or purse.
PalmOne claims that 3 hours of charging will power this PDA for weeks; this statement seems consistent with our findings on earlier monochrome models under light use. The monochrome screen and lack of a backlight mean little power drain, but they also present a problem. This PDA can be a little hard on the eyes, even in bright light, and it's difficult to read in dim conditions. Some other drawbacks: Warranty coverage is limited to 90 days, and the old "universal" Palm connector doesn't work with the Zire.
If you're contemplating the move from a paper organizer to a PDA, the economical Zire 21 lets you go digital without going broke.
PalmOne Zire 21
Palm OS 5.2.1, 8MB RAM, 160-by-160-resolution monochrome screen, stylus input, fixed lithium ion battery, 126-MHz OMAP 311 processor, built-in speaker, 3.8 ounces, 4.4 by 2.9 by 0.6 inches. Kit includes charger, USB syncing cable, and flip cover. 90-day warranty, 14-hour weekday and 9-hour weekend toll-call support.
Palm Zire 21