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Upon the purchase of our new Mitsubishi Pajero (Shogun), we were given a Zire 21 as a bonus gift. I didn't feel that I needed a PDA but I used the it for a while anyway. This is the summary of that experience.
The Zire 21 was released by PalmOne as the entry level PDA of its home consumer Zire range. It only costs 69.99 pounds direct from PalmOne and can probably be found considerably cheaper elsewhere.
But does the Zire 21 pay the price for its low cost? I think it does. Obviously, being so cheap, you have to have realistic expectations of what this PDA is going to be able to do. It is really just a beefed up organiser. Although you can download more software, it only has 8MB of onboard memory and of this, only 7.2MB is available as actual storage capacity (0.8MB is required to store the operating system). Not only that, but there is no way of expanding the memory with external media.
So: no cameras, no GPS, no expandable memory, no colour screen, no backlight, no Bluetooth... no use? Well not exactly. Like I've already said, for this price you can't expect all of those things. Granted a backlight would be nice but this PDA works perfectly well as a simple organiser. If you find that you are always forgetting to do things or to meet people or to keep to your appointments, the Zire 21 will be perfect for you.
Now let's go into a bit more detail about what the Zire 21 CAN do and what it has got going for it.
The first thing that you will notice is the way it looks. It only weighs 108g, is very thin and is both sleek and refined. I also like the fact that it is white, as this makes it more bold and interesting than some of the more somber, business-like PDAs on the market. The flap that protects the screen isn't quite as attractive but you can alway purchase a better, more appealing protective case at a later time. These are the dimensions of the Zire 21: 11.2 x 7.4 x 1.5 cm
Next on the list of plus points is the ease at which appointments and short notes can be entered. Data entry is all via the Stylus (pen) provided. You can either touch the appropriate letter on an on-screen keyboard (my preferred method), or you can take advantage of the Graffiti 2 character recognition software which will recognise the letters as you write them. I'm personally not that keen on the Graffiti 2 software. Although it does generally work well, I find that it is quicker to use the on-screen keyboard. If your handwriting isn't particularly great you may have even more trouble. Entry of contact information into the Zire 21 is through the same options. The only other thing to realise is that the entry of a lot of data into the Zire 21 is very time consuming so it is only really practical for making short notes.
Of course one of the advantages of PDAs is that they can be synchronised with your PC so that all appointments, contact details and other information is up to date on all your devices. Sychronisation of the Zire 21 with your PC can be via either a direct cable connection or via infrared. The PC software provided makes things very easy. It is a prime example of the beauty of Plug-and-Play. The Zire 21 can also be made to synchronise with Microsoft Outlook which could be very useful if you use this software.
I have already mentioned some of the software that is included on the Zire 21 when you purchase it. A clock, a calculator, some games, and an expense sheet are also included. I found the expense sheet to be fairly useful but I think that there are better versions of this type of software available for download from the internet (such as ExpenseLog 4.0).
Battery life is decent. This is probably the result of the monochrome screen, the absence of a backlight and the modest 126MHz processor. I am not exactly sure how long the Zire 21 will last on a full charge (as I don't use it a great deal) but I haven't noticed the battery life to be particularly poor.
Before I finish, I want to raise one final concern. My Zire 21 no longer works. Zip-Nada-Not at all. I've tried pretty much everything I can think of but it won't turn on. Even though my Zire 21 was probably still under warranty, I didn't feel it was worth the hassle trying to get it fixed given that I hardly ever used it. This is something to bear in mind. I didn't drop it and as far as I am aware it wasn't subjected to any amount of abnormal, warranty-voiding stress, so you should maybe consider something with a reputation for a bit more durability.
Other than that, the Zire 21 is a perfect entry level PDA. If all you need is to be able to organise yourself a little, then this beastie will help you at a very reasonable price indeed.