This past Monday was the last day my Tungsten E acted as my daily driver, as a gently used Zire 72s Special Silver Edition arrived by UPS on Tuesday morning to replace it.
You may recall a post here a few weeks ago, asking for help locating a new Palm device for my broken Tungsten E. Well, we received many wonderful offers, and in the end chose a Zire 72 for Gail. Since her 72 arrived I began checking it out, and I liked what I saw.
One of the offers tendered by blog readers was from Mark, for a special edition Zire 72. He wanted to pick up a Sony UX50. I considered the offer, partly because Gail and I have always had matching Palm PDAs — for practical and not only "aww, that's cute" reasons. Matching devices means we can share peripherals, like cases, or styli, or what have you. It's a practical thing. :-)
After some thinking, I decided to sell both of our working and broken TEs to a friend, and buy the silver Zire 72s — which turned out to be a wise decision.
Here are some impressions of the Zire 72, following a few weeks observing Gail's blue 72 and almost a week living with my new silver 72.
Graffiti Actually Works!
I was quite surprised by the improvement in Graffiti recognition on the 72 vs. the TE. After restoring my Graffiti "Classic" libraries, I found I could actually use the Graffiti area and enjoy the process on the 72. It was as good as my old Sony N610 or Visor in recognition quality. This is significant, as bad recognition on the TE had forced Gail and I to use Graffiti Anywhere (a wonderful free utility) to make our TEs even usable.
Color & Casing
I really love the silver metallic finish, compared to Gail's Gummi Bear blue goo finish. I understand this blue jelly tends to scrape off of regular Zire 72s (a floor model we saw at Best Buy was completely wiped clean). I'm a big fan of silver objects, so the smooth matte silver finish fits my personality quite nicely.
I like the rounded, organic case better than the TE. I was surprised that the 72 is about the same size as the TE, since I had the idea the 72 was a larger device. The smooth edges make it feel even smaller in your hand than the TE. Oddly enough, I found my black leather Covertec TE case works with the Zire 72 pretty well, except that the camera lens is covered.
I'm still adapting to the vertical placement of the buttons, as every device I've owned so far has always followed a horizontal format. However, I do like the 72's D-pad better than the TE, so maybe this is a tradeoff I'll just need to adapt to.
Camera & Voice Recorder
I've not yet made good use of these items, but I do plan to. Gail has already been snapping shots of Nathan, and recording him doing or saying things with the video camera or voice recorder. I like the idea of a quickie cam on the 72, to capture moments, and since I'm an audio-minded guy, I think the voice memo feature will be useful, once I adapt to having it.
Slots & Ports
I like that the 72 uses the mini-USB port like the TE, since the peripherals we already have will work with it. I actually like this feature, since it's easy enough to locate USB cables should I ever be in need of one. Plus, it's nice to charge off the USB port at my desk while workiing. However, I do find the 72's SD card slot less friendly than the TE. It's very difficult to press an SD card in enough to seat release it. Not sure what palmOne was thinking here.
While the stock plastic stylus for the 72 is quite weak compared to the TE's metal one, I really like the pen-stylus Mark sent along with our package of goodies. The weight of it is good, the soft rubber tip is even better than that of the TE, and the cap hides a nice ball-point pen, for emergency use.
I've not had a chance to try out the 72's Bluetooth capabilities, but I hope to soon. Once I have a Bluetooth adapter for the Powerbook, I'll experiment with HotSync, Sync Buddy and some email/web/rss stuff via shared network connection. I think my Bluetooth experience may be another article entirely. :-)
I'll start off by saying that I really like my Zire 72. I've got the feeling the Zire 72 may be my favorite Palm handheld yet. It feels well made and solid. The screen seems similar to the TE, with better video performance. The device feels very snappy and responsive. Battery life seems roughly the same as the TE (as far as I can tell so far). Size is good, shape is good, features are excellent. I can't find many knocks against the Zire 72... yet.
It's interesting to consider how much PDAs have changed since 1997 when I bought my first Pilot 1000. Back then, any portable device seemed like a revelation. Even my use of PDAs has shifted over the years, from being an input, reading and "mini PIM" device to a reading and listening "media" device of late.
However, seeing the Zire 72's decent Graffiti recognition, voice recording and camera/video options, I may be doing more input than I have for many years and I'm excited about that!