A few months ago I was reading a copy of Writerís Digest when
I read a little clip about using a PDA as an alternative to
carrying around a notebook. I fell in love with the idea immediately.
After begging for my wifeís permission to buy a PDA, I began
the job of finding the right unit for my needs. I sat down
and wrote down all my possible applications for a PDA. Iíll
be the first to say the list was very short.
However, my primary reason for even considering a PDA was
to help me keep my ideas together. Most of my best ideas come
at night when Iím asleep and turning a light on to jot them
down is risking a firm kick in the ribs from my wife. With
the right PDA, writing at night can be done totally in the
After a great deal of comparing prices and features, I purchased
a Palm Zire 71. Iíve had my Zire 71 for a little over a week
now and believe that I have made the right choice.
This little Palm is packed with features. Not only does it
have a gorgeous 320x320-color screen and a generous 16-MB
of memory; it also features a hidden digital camera.
The built in digital camera is a gadget loverís dream. With
a quick slide of the front panel, the camera is exposed allowing
quick discrete photos. For a writer, this is a fantastic tool
for capturing an image without being noticed. I have already
begun photographing people and buildings to help with some
of the descriptions in my stories.
The camera is capable of capturing images up to a resolution
of 640x480 pixels.
Battery life on the Zire 71 is exceptional. I have used my
unit for up to four days between charging and even then I
still had over 50% of my battery remaining. During these four
days I took over 100 photographs, played video games for a
few hours and performed various other tasks.
If you havenít used a Palm Pilot before, you will quickly
find that the Zire 71 becomes the greatest assistant you could
ever have. I have now begun to use my Zire 71 to track my
appointments, grocery lists and workout statistics at the
The handwriting recognition took less than ten minutes to
become fairly proficient with. I still have difficulties with
the letter X, but a quickly accessible visual on-screen keyboard
is always available to help me through the rough spots.
For all its great features, the Zire 71 does have its issues.
I have already found out first hand how a good thing can go
For some reason, after being away from my PC for four days,
I couldnít synchronize my Zire 71 anymore. After nearly four
hours of researching possible solutions on the Internet, I
ended up resolving the problem by removing the drivers for
my USB ports from my PC. When my machine rebooted, I was able
to restore a connection to my Palm.
At one point I also lost the ability to take pictures with
the digital camera. I fiddled with the settings for an hour
and still had no idea why the camera was not working. At the
end of this hour, my Palm froze in one of the preference screens
and rebooted itself. When the screen returned, it asked if
I wished to delete everything on the device. I chose no and
suddenly everything was working perfectly again.
Overall I think this is a great Palm Pilot and offers some
very nice features for the price. If you are technically savvy
enough to deal with some of the quirks, this will be a great
tool to help with your writing.
Palm offers this unit at $249 but a good bargain hunter can
find one much cheaper on eBay.
Added: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 Reviewer: John Simpson Score: Related Link:Palm
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