With those stats, it certainly doesn’t break new ground in terms of features. However, is the first time a Palm OS Handheld with a color screen has ever debuted for just $200.
On the Outside
When word first surfaced of this model, I thought it would look like the recently-announced SJ33. But Sony surprised me. Instead, the SJ22 looks almost exactly like the previous SJ series models. This means it has a silver and black plastic casing and a soft flipcover.
It is 4.0 by 2.8 by .66 inches and weighs 4.9 ounces. This makes it a fairly small and light model, though it is a bit thick.
Screen One of the SJ22’s best features is its screen. This is 320 by 320 pixels and 16-bit, which makes it at least as good as the screen on many high-end models.
The screen is transflective, which means it looks very good indoors but less so outdoors.
Buttons Though they might not seem important, the buttons are how you do much of your interacting with your handheld. If there is something wrong with them, it can become a major irritant.
Fortunately, the ones on the SJ22 are just fine. They are large and comfortable to push. If you are new to handhelds, the ones on the front launch the four main applications: the Date Book, Address Book, To-Do List, and Memo Pad.
On the left side of the device is a Jog Dial. This makes one-handed use of the device easy as it allows you to scroll through lists and select items with just your thumb. For example, you can use it to scroll through your list of contacts and, by pushing on the Jog Dial, open one so you can see a phone number or email address.
Under the Jog Dial is a Back Button, which allows you to back out of items you have selected.
Memory Stick Slot On the top is a slot that allows the SJ22 to use Memory Sticks. As their name implies, these are for storing files and programs. A Memory Stick isn’t required, but it’s nice to have if you get more applications than you can fit in your handheld’s main memory.
I ran VFSMark on the SJ22, which benchmarks its speed at using removable memory cards. It got an overall score of 41, which isn’t very good. This means transferring large files and apps to and from a Memory Stick will be a bit sluggish.
On the Inside
The SJ22 runs Palm OS 4.1 on a 33 MHz processor. Obviously, this isn’t a cutting-edge handheld. However, it is perfectly capable of running the vast majority of Palm OS applications.
It has 16 MB of memory, of which 15 MB is available to the user. This is as much as you are going to find on any Palm OS handheld. In fact, it’s more than on Sony’s high-end models. If you run out of space, there are those Memory Sticks I mentioned earlier.
Audio One of the significant differences between this and most other Sony models is this one doesn’t have the hardware necessary to play digital audio. This means no MP3s, no ATRAC3, no Ogg files, nothing. Because of this, it doesn’t have a headphone jack.
Its internal speaker is capable of making beeps and such for your alarms but that’s about it.
Battery Life One of the most important features of any handheld is how long it lasts between recharges. The SJ22’s is just OK. I was able to use it for about four hours before getting the first low battery warning.
This wasn’t a torture test. I used the handheld normally while an app kept track of how much time the SJ22 was on. It actually took me nine days to use it that four hours.
I did this with the backlight on at about 60% of full, which I consider the lowest setting on this model in which the screen still looks pretty good. Of course, you can extend the battery life by turning down the backlight but at the price of screen that is too dark, in my opinion anyway.
Of course, the SJ22 includes the standard Palm OS applications, like an address book, a scheduler, a to-do-list, and more. You can also read and compose email.
Unlike most Sony handhelds, it does not come with a copy of DataViz’s Documents To Go. This means that if you want to access Microsoft Office documents on your handheld, you’ll have to buy a third-party application. Fortunately, there are several available, like the aforementioned Documents To Go, Quickoffice, or WordSmith.
Sony emphasizes the multimedia capabilities of its handhelds so the SJ22 comes with a video player. The Kinoma Player can show video at up to 320 by 320 pixels. Be warned, though, it only supports videos in its own proprietary format. These look pretty good, small of course but good. However, you’ll need to buy an encoder for $20 if you want to covert your own movies to watch.
Of course, as I said earlier, the speaker on the SJ22 isn’t up to the job of playing good audio to go with this video. So, while the pictures look good, the sound quality isn’t.
It also has PictureGear Pocket and PhotoStand, two apps that can display your digital photos. With its excellent screen, this is an ideal use for the SJ22.
One thing to be aware of is Sony handhelds don’t suport the Macintosh. However, Mac users can download the Palm Desktop for Mac from Palm itself, which will allow you to HotSync. Or you can get an application called The Missing Sync from Mark/Space, which has some nice additional features.
The SJ22 does not come with a cradle. Instead, it depends on a USB cable for HotSyncing and a power cable. These plug into a small adapter which then plugs into the handheld. This isn’t ideal but it is typical for entry-level handhelds. If you want a cradle, Sony sells one for $30.
It uses the standard Sony stylus, which I’m not terribly fond of. It’s kind of thin.
The SJ22’s flipcover is a pale gray leatherette-type material. It clips onto the back then extends over the top and then onto the front. Unlike the hard plastic cover on the new SJ33, it can be flipped around completely to the back.
Its HotSync port is also the standard one for Sony models, which means you can plug in lots of already available peripherals, like keyboards, a game pad, a battery adapter, and more.
I know some believe multimedia capabilities are a necessity in a handheld. Clearly, the SJ22 isn’t for these people. However, I’m sure there are plenty of others who will be happy with an entry-level model with a high-resolution color screen, whether it can play MP3s or not.