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Richard Price
2 July 2002

Sony CLIEI have been having great time with Sony’s latest PDA the strangely named CLIE PEG-NR70V.

I would like to say I have been updating address books, writing memos, checking word documents or hotsyncing data with a laptop. Instead, I have been taking pictures with the built in CMOS camera, listening to MP3 files and changing TV channels.

Sony knows a thing or two about entertainment and have managed to put a lot of fun into an otherwise dull PDA market.

The harassed business executive who comes home to find the TV remote has been lost can use this versatile little unit to fire up a DVD, TV or VCR.

It needn’t be a Sony product either. To my surprise the CLIE had no trouble controlling a 10 year old Sharp VCR.

There is nothing particularly special about the quality of 320x240 pixel images from the integrated camera. Its a clever design, the lens can rotate through 300 degrees but options are limited.

White balance and brightness are adjustable. A number of effects (black and white, sepia, neg-art and solarize) can also be used when taking pictures and a date and time stamp can also be included with the image.

Overall the CLIE gets points for clever design. It really looks very stylish and flips open to reveal a mini keyboard for thumb typing.

SMS phone addicts would have no problem, but I found it difficult to “type” on the keyboard --- and used the stylus on the keys as well as the screen.

Borrowing a trick from camcorders, the screen can rotate and close back over the keyboard for a more a traditional PDA look.

While the unit is charging in the HotSync cradle it can be set up to cycle through images like a virtual photo frame.

The CLIE also includes a slot for a Memory Stick. Memory Sticks are still expensive --- 16MB costs AU$69.95 while 128MB costs AU$245 --- and are not included.

The CLIE is a fully featured audio player and does a great job playing MP3 and ATRAC3 (MiniDisc) files. A set of headphones and a tethered remote are included with the unit.

As a PDA the CLIE uses the Palm OS (4.1) and has a Motorola Dragonball Super VZ 66MHz processor with 16MB DRAM.

All the standard PDA organiser utilities like Address Book, Memo Pad and Task List are there and the screen is one of the clearest I have seen.

Other software includes Documents To Go that allows users to create, view, edit Microsoft Word or Excel files. MS Export/Import for copying data to a Memory Stick without using the hotsynch cradle, MS Gate for managing Memory Stick files and MS Backup to backup application data to Memory Stick.

Intellsync allows users to synchonise contacts, tasks and notes from Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Organiser.

Unfortunately the CLIE can’t take video pictures or double up as a webcam for mobile video conferencing.

PDAs are moving into more exciting territory, but I am still not tempted to ditch my trusty Filofax just yet.

Price AU$1349



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