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Sony Clié PEG-UX50

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      28.04.2009 11:33
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      Still the best PDA I've ever seen or used.

      I have had my UX50 for three years now and have used it non-stop since it's arrival from the US.

      The fact that this PDA packs in a very bright 480 x 320 pixel screen, a comfortable, easy to use keyboard, a video camera, bluetooth and 11b wireless networking into a unit that is far smaller than a Nintendo DS is a testimony to quality Japanese engineering. And they did not stop there; the TFT display rotates 180 degrees and folds flat against the keyboard for those who prefer to carry out data entry using the tiny, retractable stylus which nestles under the keyboard.

      But there is more. If the supplied 104MB RAM (split between video, photos, applications and data) is not enough for your needs (and it won't be once you get started!), there is a Memory Stick Pro slot supplied so that you can add additional memory when the need arises. I have a 2GB memory stick which has proven to be far more than I need. There is even software available which will compress a DVD movie onto a 256MB memory stick so that you can take it away with you for viewing at your leisure.

      As with other Palm OS devices, the UX50 is also supplied with an infrared port which can be used to beam data between other Palm devices, a suitably equipped PC or even used to connect to the internet using a mobile phone.

      There is microphone so that the PDA can be used for audio note-taking and a small, yet relatively powerful speaker located on the underside of the device. With the relatively good audio software which comes pre-installed and memory stick, you could set yourself up with one of the coolest MP3 players imaginable - it certainly knocks the socks off an iPod in terms of looks, with it's sleek, brushed silver magnesium alloy casing and fantastic screen. There is also a 3.5" headphone jack cleverly concealed on the hinge of the unit. And Sony have always made sexier PDAs than Palm!

      The UX50 ships with PalmOS 5.2 which although not the latest incarnation of the operating system, will run the vast majority of Palm applications available today. As a long-time PDA user I have had the misfortune of "using" Windows CE/Pocket Windows devices such as the iPaq 6830 and the pleasure of using many Palm OS units and I can say that in terms of stability, application support and ease of use, Palm OS wins every time. Many people used to complain that they had to learn a new handwriting technique to use the earlier Palm PDAs, but with it's integrated keyboard, this is no longer an issue with the UX50.

      With built in WiFi and bluetooth, this PDA really is closest you can get to a pocket laptop. I use my PDA at home and at work to carry out day to day tasks (it is possible to get a PC client which allows you to remotely monitor and control other PCs from your PDA) and also for general web surfing. The bundled browser, NetFront, is far superior to the Pocket Internet Explorer bundled with Pocket PCs and is infinitely more web standards compliant - most web pages look almost exactly the same as they do on your PC!
      There is all manner of applications available to fulfill just about every function imaginable and better still, much of the software available is free and is generally of a very good standard. Try finding useful free applications for a Pocket PC!

      However, all this said, the UX50 does have a few flaws. The most obvious problem with the UX50 is that the battery life is appalling due to the incredibly sharp screen (good, bright screens take a lot of power to run). Once you add Wi-Fi or Bluetooth into the equation and you can almost visibly see the battery indicator dropping. Sony did make an extended battery for the UX50 but unfortunately they did not make enough for each of the PDA units they produced. This means that they sell for ridiculous prices on eBay as every UX50 owner wants one - the cheapest I have seen one available for is $120 USD from Hong Kong (non-Sony).

      My other beef with the UX50 is, surprisingly, the screen. The UX50 only supports landscape display mode meaning that the screen only shows 420 pixels across and 320 pixels down and herein lies a big problem - most Palm OS PDA software is designed to work at 320 pixels ACROSS and 420 pixels DOWN. This means that some software only display across part of the screen and that some disappears off the bottom of the UX50 display. However, a very clever guy has released an application called CodeDiver which stretches older applications to fit the UX50 screen - this is a definite must-buy if you are going to have this PDA work to its full potential.

      I have heard similar gripes about the supplied stylus being to small or thin, but the provision of the qwerty keyboard really negates this.
      And as with most Palm PDAs, there is little direct support for the Microsoft Office applications. The Palm diary is happy to synchronise contacts and appointments with Outlook, but any documents or spreadsheets will require additional software. Fortunately there are several very good packages out there which will meet the needs of even the most demanding user.

      Sadly the UX50 is the last Clie PDA Sony released outside Japan and they have since ceased production of all PDAs instead focusing on the ultra portable PC market. Subsequent models have been released, but most seem to be minor refinements to this, Sony's greatest PDA. For those who really must have bleeding edge technology, hop on over to the Sony site and check out the new Vaio range of PDAs; Sony have squeezed a 20Gb hard drive running Windows XP into a device the same size as the UX50.

      I would suggest that this PDA is a must have for the fashionable geek. The unit will be the envy of your family and friends; mine still turns heads and raises questions from strangers fascinated by the functions available in this tiny silver unit. If you own one, you will find that you do actually use it progressively more the longer you have it.

      ~~~ Pros ~~~
      [1] Very, very useful device
      [2] Very cleverly designed unit to meet the needs of novices and technofreaks alike
      [3] How sexy can a PDA be?
      [4] Bright, sharp LCD screen
      [5] Full qwerty keyboard for rapid data entry with backlighting for low-light conditions
      [6] Genuinely useful multimedia functions
      [7] Good bundled software
      [8] Palm Operating System as standard
      [9] Bluetooth and WiFi so the device can connect to networks or the internet virtually anywhere.
      [10] Good quality design and build from hardy materials
      [11] Flip-over, fold flat design of screen
      [12] VGA quality camera with the ability to record video clips

      ~~~ Cons ~~~
      [1] Battery life
      [2] Native software support for landscape screen
      [3] Price and availability of accessories
      [4] Ageing technology - the processor can be considered very slow by today's standards.
      [5] Palm OS does not support multi-tasking so you can only do one thing at a time with the Clie.
      [6] (Nit-picking now!) USB 1.1 port for connection to a PC where 2.0 would have been more useful due to it's increased speed.
      [7] A bit more RAM allocated to the applications would have been useful.

      Links
      Sony UX50 details: http://www.sonystyle.com /webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay? catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=11039934

      Sony UX50 Support: http://esupport.sony.com/US/perl/model-home.pl?mdl=PEG-UX50&region_id=1


      © ben-lloyd 2009. This review appears on other websites under the same user name.

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    • Product Details

      The PEG-UX50 Personal Entertainment Communicator features dual Wireless integration in a compact and lightweight design. Powered by Palm OS 5, the UX50 is powerful, portable, and easy to use!

      With both 802.11b WiFi and Bluetooth built-in, the UX50 offers two methods of wireless communication for maximum flexibility. Connect to a wireless LAN network using 802.11b WiFi, and you can check e-mail, access the Internet, or HotSync with a PC on the network wirelessly. By pairing the UX50 with other Bluetooth enabled devices you can transfer data between CLIE handhelds, HotSync with a PC, or connect to the Internet via cell phone. Built-in digital camera with 3x digital zoom provides 310K effective pixel resolution.

      The built-in 310, 000 pixel digital camera supports up to VGA (640x480) resolution, and is perfect for taking quick snapshots and transmitting over one of the wireless connections. You can also record and play back video (MPEG4, 30 fps, 160x112)!

      The new wide-screen design features a high-resolution 480x320 display. The wider display allows more web pages to be readable, improving your Internet experience. The screen lifts to expose the keyboard, or swivels to hide the keyboard and use as a touch screen. Plus, more room is available for the built in keyboard, allowing for more space between each key.

      The UX50 also features Dedicated Internal Media Memory (29 MB) for storing multimedia content. The Automatic Data Back-up feature helps protect your information by moving data in RAM memory to non-volatile memory when a low battery state is detected.