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Palm unveils a $99 color PDA

Palm unveils a $99 color PDA and a Wi-Fi device with a big color screen and an affordable price.
The new Z22 has a clear 160 by 160 pixel color screen.
The new Z22 has a clear 160 by 160 pixel color screen.Palm

If you’re still using a paper day-at-a-glance planner, you’re running out of excuses fast. Palm has been making great $99 electronic organizers/PDAs for years now. But if you’ve ever said “I’m waiting for them to make a great color PDA for under $100,” your time is up. 

Today, Palm is introducing the Z22, its first $99 color organizer. It follows on the success of Palm's original black-and-white Zire handheld, which sold more than a million units in less than seven months. So you can be pretty sure this one will also be a big success.

Normally, this is the part of my column where I’d tell you all about its size and other good stuff. But technical specifications for a device which is geared to first-time users aren’t all that important.

I will tell you that the Z22 is the size of a deck of cards and weighs less than most cell phones, has more than enough memory to hold thousands of appointments and phone numbers and the built-in batteries will last days and days before recharging is a must.

Everything about the Z22 is aimed at users who would rather not bother. There’s not only a booklet on how to run the Z22, but there’s also an easy-to-follow three-step set-up poster, an on-device quick tour and a Getting Started guide for both your PC and the PDA.

In addition to the normal Palm PDA stuff (Calendar, Contacts, Memos, Tasks, NotePad, Expense, Calculator, World Clock/Alarm Clock) the Z22 also allows you to store photos, play games, read e-books and lots more.

What the Z22 doesn’t have is a memory expansion slot or any sort of built-in wireless networking. But, then again, what do you expect for $99?

However, if you really need a PDA with those things, Palm is ready for you, too.

The company's other new device is called the TX. It’s aimed toward a generation of professionals on the go who want an affordable device with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a large, high-resolution color screen (320 by 480 pixels).

Palm borrowed some of the things they learned about Wi-Fi when they created the top-of-the-line LifeDrive PDA. They added that knowledge to a bunch of other features and made themselves (and us) a petty terrific device.

I will tell you about what’s inside the TX: In addition to the wireless and big screen, there’s an Intel 312MHz processor, 128MB of flash memory and a SD Card external memory slot. By the way, that's an SDIO (I for in and O for out) which means it can handle future devices as well as memory cards. On the outside, the device is 4.76 by 3.08 by 0.61 inches and weighs 5.25 ounces.

There are all sorts of interesting software titles on the TX in addition to the normal Palm PDA stuff. The TX includes something called File Share (download and share media/files with a desktop computer), Pocket Tunes to handle your MP3s and podcasts, and a version of MobiTV on Palm, a service I’ve told you about in the past which allows you to watch TV-quality (or something approaching that) video running at 24 frames/second.

The Palm TX also comes with a free, 30-day trial subscription to T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi hotspot network (at Starbucks, airports and elsewhere). Palm knows what it's doing. The company is targeting this device to students, professionals and anyone who uses a Wi-Fi network.

The TX will sell for $299 — a fair price for everything that’s crammed inside. And, as you may have already noticed, Palm has lowered the price of their Tungsten E2 to $199 to make room for the new TX.