The Sony Clie SJ22 is a refresh of the monochrome SJ20. It’s also more or less the same thing as the Clie SJ30. Either way, is it the right investment for you? Well, if you’ve got $200 to spend on a PDA with fantastic screen and few frills it might be.
Oddly, this is the most difficult PDA review I’ve had to write in some time. Recently I’ve reviewed the Clie NZ90 and SJ33, both of which broke some new ground. The SJ22 however is really nothing new. We’ve seen it all before, but with Sony PDAs, that’s usually a good thing.
The SJ22 packs the color screen from the SJ30 into the same body of the SJ20. It weighs in at 4.9 ounces, including stylus and measures 4 1/8 (H) x 2 7/8 (W) x 11/16 (D) inches.
As you would expect in this price range, the body is entirely plastic with the same flap cover as the other SJ devices. The cover is easily removable, should you chose to, and does its job reasonably well. To be clear though, its job is to protect the screen from loose change or other deadly objects within your pocket. It will not protect from a fall and barely shields from inadvertent button clicks.
Overall the body design is appealing. Even though the body is plastic, it really doesn’t look it and feels sturdy in the hand. The SJ22 also rides well in a pants pocket but is a little large for my liking in the shirt pocket.
The front of the SJ22 is pretty familiar, including the high res screen and the four application buttons. Situated in between the application buttons is the up/down navigation button that works much better going down than up. An unassuming little orange charge light also resides at the bottom of the SJ22.
The left side of the SJ22 houses the full scrolling jog dial. By full scrolling I mean it goes all the way around, not just a knob that you hold to one direction to scroll. There is also a back button, which is a nicety at this price point.
The stylus silo is the only thing on the right side of the SJ22.
The top houses the lanyard slot, standard IR port, memory stick slot, power button and the top of the stylus.
The serial connector for connection to the sync cable and peripherals resides in the bottom on the SJ22.
The back of the PDA has the speaker, which is okay for alarms and game blips, but is nothing impressive, not that it should be at this price. The back also has the reset button and the battery compartment which is accessible with a small Philips screw driver.
The SJ22 features the Motorola Dragonball 33 MHz CPU. This may also be the last Clie we see running at this speed. I think most users will find the speed to be more than acceptable, but I should note that some of the more advanced games may hang a bit while the processor tries to keep up. The problem is not really with the device, but the software that is now outpacing the entry level hardware.
At $200, the SJ22 packs in the best screen of any PDA. The high res 320 x 320 pixel screen is a fantastic offering for an entry level device. Sony deserves a lot of credit for this integration, which is the best and most obvious upgrade over the SJ20.
The SJ22 features 16MB of internal memory, of which 15MB is usable. Sony really didn’t have to give this device so much memory. I think most buyers in this market would have been content with 8MB. In the end the extra memory is nice to have and might be enough to keep many from needing a memory stick. Unless you plan on carrying around a lot of files, like images or documents, you can probably do without, at least until you stack up on games.
The SJ 22 runs off a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. It is not easily replaceable, but it can be done should you really want to. Sony estimates battery life at 12 days given use of 30 minutes per day without the backlight.
The most obvious difference between the SJ30 and the SJ22 is the lack of Documents To Go in the latter. I’m very disappointed to see Sony strip Docs to Go from most of their latest PDAs, but I imagine it’s purely a cost play. If they pull some of the more expensive licenses, it stands to reason the devices will be cheaper. As a result, if you want to carry and edit Microsoft documents and spreadsheets on the SJ22, you’ll need to buy a separate software to do so.
That said, Sony did include a few other things worth noting:
Value added software Sony has tossed in a number of game demos like Astraware favorites Bejeweled and Zap 2016, which SJ22 buyers will surely appreciate. There are also full versions of a calculator program, map viewer and most interestingly, Kinoma player.
Kinoma is now being bundled with all Clie’s. If you’re not familiar, the Kinoma player is capable of playing videos on your Clie that have been run through their special compression software, Kinoma Producer ($30). It’s a pretty substantial upgrade over gMovie, which Kinoma has replaced on new Clie’s. I don’t see many SJ22 owners digitizing and watching video, but the option is there if you want it. I tried a few sample movies and found the quality to be very grainy at times with a lot of dropped frames. If you have any multimedia expectations, you’ll want to step up to a more powerful unit.
As expected, the SJ22 does not include a cradle. Instead it ships with the sync and charge cables that are familiar wares for the low and mid range Clie’s.
Sony appears to be done with monochrome units, at least in the current Clie form factor. The SJ22 is not so much an upgrade of the SJ20 as it is a re branding of the SJ30. This is not a bad thing though, at the SJ30 excelled in many ways. What Sony has done is push great features to an entry level device at a great price. If you just need the basics, but desire the quality screen every PDA should have, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the SJ22.
Let me take a few lines to address a common question. Should I buy the SJ22 or the SJ30? At the time of this review, the price difference is roughly $25 30 between the two units. The core difference is the Documents To Go software. The standard version of this application sells for $50. So the answer is quite clear. If you need the ability to create and edit Microsoft files on your Clie, the SJ30 is a great buy while you can find them. Should you not require this feature, save some cash and get the SJ22.