Palm Zire 71 - 6

Here I was, weeks away from graduating high school and moving on to college. My parents were throwing me a graduation party, and I assumed I had some money coming my way. Graduation presents typically fall into one of two categories: money for the graduate or things they can use at college.

My friends and I swapped some cool gifts. I know it sounds silly, but one of the best I received was a really nice telescoping umbrella. It was perfect.

As for the money, I knew a few weeks ahead of my party that what I got would go towards something I figured I’d use in school. That something was the Palm Zire 71.

Now, I have nothing against the actual device itself. The Zire 71 was a well-reviewed, well-received PDA when PDAs and Palm Pilots were as much a part of everyday tech vernacular as Kindles, iPads and Galaxy Tabs. This was a strong, solid device with a solid run down of (laughable by today’s standards) tech specs.

The Zire 71 weighed in at 5.3 oz, it had 16 MB of ram (13 usable), a 144 MHz processor and, brace yourselves, a fancy 0.3 megapixel camera. It even had a joystick-esque nub on the bottom for all that gaming I was going to do.

Wikipedia actually has a picture on file taken with that beauty of a camera, by the way. Here’s what less than half of a megapixel looks like when shot on a Palm Zire 71.

Palm Zire 71 - 9

That’s either snow or fog, and I have no idea which.

I was going to bring this fancy PDA, purchased with all of the money I received for graduating high school, to college. I thought I’d bring it to class, take notes, sync them with my computer back in my dorm, keep up on my to-do lists and, generally, stay on the ball.

Heck, I even bought a fancy dancy foldable keyboard like this one from Logitech or some other company. Tungsten, maybe.

Palm Zire 71 - 8

Then school started, I plopped down in the 300-person freshmen lecture hall that was called Smith 140. I unfolded my keyboard, plugged in my Zire 71 and was stared at so hard that I couldn’t even bring myself to type on the thing.

The Zire 71 wound up buried at the bottom of my school bag within the first week of classes my freshman year of college. The $300-ish I spent on it, a case and the keyboard were a complete waste of money.

I wrote my to-do lists on a Post-It, I took notes in a notebook and I took pictures with a disposable camera. None of those things cost more than 10 bucks. $300 would have supplied me with enough of them to last my whole collegiate career.

I still shake my head whenever I think about this thing.

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