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Sony CLIE PEG-SJ review: Sony CLIE PEG-SJ

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MSRP: $219.99
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The Good High-resolution, color screen; rechargeable batteries.

The Bad Lacks cradle; doesn't include Documents To Go or Intellisync Lite.

The Bottom Line The SJ22 lacks some software that comes with the SJ30, but its lower price makes it a great deal for a color Palm PDA.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.6 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

When we reviewed Sony's CLIE PEG-SJ33, we thought that it was a great step up from the average but reasonably priced SJ30. But when we saw the company's new CLIE-SJ22, we couldn't believe our eyes. The unit is identical to the SJ30 in nearly every way, though it does lack some software that ships with the SJ30. But we're not complaining; if you can make the software sacrifice, this SJ22 is a capable, color CLIE that matches the SJ30 spec for spec and carries an affordable $200 price tag. Like its sibling, the SJ30, the PEG-SJ22 is rather squat, measuring 4.1 by 2.9 by 0.7 inches. This CLIE's molded-plastic case helps limit its weight to a trim 4.9 ounces, so it's easy to carry in a shirt pocket. Sony managed to shrink the bezel of the unit, so the 2.9-inch, color LCD appears larger than it really is. One thing that we immediately liked about the SJ22's design is the battery; although it's rechargeable, it's also replaceable and can be accessed easily by removing one screw from a panel on the unit's back.

The Sony is not much larger than a deck of cards.

With its slim profile and rounded corners, the SJ22 is easy to pocket.
Below the screen and the Graffiti area are the typical four application buttons and the scroll rocker. The SJ22's buttons are big and easy to use. However, the controls--and the rocker, in particular--are still not large enough to play a fast-action game comfortably. Fortunately, there's a jog dial and a Back button on the side of the unit to speed up scrolling and switching between programs.

A back panel can be removed, exposing the replaceable battery.

The AC charger and the syncing dongles are compact.
The PEG-SJ22's nylon flip cover is detachable and includes two nubs that keep it from touching the screen or activating the buttons. The cover lacks a clasp, however, so it easily slides to the side or flops open.

In lieu of a cradle, Sony includes a small, plastic adapter; a power cord; and a USB cable. This is a lightweight and efficient package for the frequent traveler, but we would have preferred an adapter that's not so easy to lose. If you must have a cradle, you can purchase one from Sony.

Add memory via the Memory Stick slot.

To meet the demands of the device's Palm OS 4.1 platform, the PEG-SJ22 is well equipped with a 33MHz DragonBall processor and 16MB of RAM. We should note that 8MB of RAM is more than sufficient to store a ton of contacts and calendar information, but if you need additional space, there's a Memory Stick slot at the top of the unit, which is especially useful if you want to carry around family photos. Aside from the Memory Stick slot, the CLIE has few hardware extras. There's no MP3 playback, though the unit does have a speaker for system sounds and alerts.

Sony includes a suite of CLIE programs with the SJ22, the most notable of which are geared toward showing off the handheld's high-resolution screen. PictureGear Pocket, when used with the included PictureGear Lite desktop application, lets you convert and view files on your PDA. This is a nice perk, but we would have preferred JPEG support out of the box. Once you have images on the device, you may either display them as a slide show in Photo Stand or edit and embellish them using CLIE Paint.

We liked the roomy function buttons, but the scroller is hard to use.

World Clock is a full-featured and useful alarm clock.
The biggest difference between the SJ30 and the SJ22 is that the latter lacks a couple of software titles that the earlier model had. The first is Documents To Go, which lets you view and edit Word and Excel files on your Palm. And though Sony includes Palm Desktop, it leaves out Intellisync Lite, which lets you sync with your e-mail and contacts with Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. Sony still does not include a Mac-syncing application, so Mac users will have to shell out for third-party software such as Missing Sync. Our favorite app is this CLIE's World Clock program, which allows you to set up to five different daily alarms. You can even select the type of chime or whether the alarm emits a constant tone or builds to a crescendo.

If you like to ogle pics, the Sony's screen won't disappoint.

As we already noted, the CLIE PEG-SJ22 has 16MB of RAM and uses a 33MHz DragonBall processor, which can't compare with the 66MHz processor found in the NR70V or the 200MHz Intel processor at the heart of the TG50 and NZ90 CLIEs. Despite this, the SJ22 handles any PIM task with ease, although it falls short in processor-intensive activities such as displaying graphics. The unit had no problems sorting through long lists of contacts, but unlike the NR70V, it couldn't keep up with the action when we played the arcade game Zap 2016.

The SJ22's built-in lithium-ion battery delivers an acceptable amount of operating time. With the auto-off function disabled and the screen set to maximum brightness, the battery lasted 3 hours, 53 minutes. This is a far cry from Sony's estimate of 15 days of usage at 30 minutes per day. Of course, you can extend the battery life by using this PDA without the backlight whenever possible.

However, when the white backlight is off, it's difficult to read text on the high-resolution, 320x320-pixel screen under certain conditions. If you happen to be outdoors, it's easy to see the screen display and even most of the colors, but when you're inside, the backlight is a must. And while the text is much crisper than that found on competing 160x160 handhelds, the icons are still blocky compared to those of a Pocket PC.

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