Sony Clie TJ27 Full Review

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The new Sony Clie TJ27 is here.  It is a variation on the TJ25’s basic theme and refreshes some the earlier models design features.  It combines an elegant, business-grade styling and basic PDA functionality with a 0.3 megapixel camera (640 x 480).  The TJ27 will be followed by the higher feature, higher priced TJ37 which will have the integrated camera with WiFi capability.  Once again, Sony has done an excellent job with appearance, form, and function on this line of PDAs.  The integration of the camera into the TJ-series has been well thought out.  Compared to PalmOne’s Zire 71 integrated camera, the TJ27’s camera is easier to use and more capable with a 2X digital zoom feature.  The TJ27 lacks the integrated headphone jack and music player of the Zire 71, however.  The TJ27 is expected to retail at $200, a lower price than the current Zire 71 price ($250).

Sony TJ27 Hardware Specifications
Sony Corporation
Infrared only (IrDA 1.2)
Palm OS version 5.2.1
i.MXL Application Processor
320 x 320 pixels, 65, 536 colors
32 MB (23MB available to user)
3 x 4.5 x 0.5″ (76 x 114 x 13.5mm)
8 MB
5 oz. (145 g)
Memory Stick PRO
Lithium-Ion (800 mA)

TJ27 Front
TJ27 Back
The Sony TJ27 Front (Top) and Back (Bottom) with the new camera .
The TJ27 Versus the TJ37
While we don’t have our hands on the TJ37, the manual  included with the TJ27 has been written to cover both models.  The TJ37 will sell for $300 (that wasn’t in the manual) and will include WiFi (IEEE802.11b), a monoaural speaker versus the buzzer on the TJ27, and have a headphone jack for playing music files.  It will have additional software including Decuma, Picsel Viewer, Mobile Manager and Mobile Connection Wizard for WiFi connections, Kinoma Player 2 (movies), Giga Pocket Plugin (movie converter), Aeroplayer (for MP3s), and the Netfront Browser v3.1

TJ27 Base
TJ27 Top
The Sony TJ27 – The Base and Top of the Unit

The TJ27 Form

The TJ27 is the latest design in Sony’s line of “basic”  PDAs.   Basic PDAs appear to be defined by Sony as being economically priced, supporting the essential PDA functions with limited or no multimedia support, and being compact in size relative to Sony’s more expensive and feature rich NX and NZ series.  On the TJ27, Sony has continued to modify the design features in what is, overall, an improvement on even the previous TJ line.  They have kept the good stuff : the three position (on/off/locked off) power button/slider, the integrated dust cover for the Memory Stick slot, the secure side-flip cover, the travel charger and synchronization cable, and the reset button you can access with the stylus tip.  They also kept the marginal features, the rear-facing speaker and the very thin, collapsible, stylus that is uncomfortable for some.  What is different is the overall design of the PDA.  Instead of the light metallic plastic with polished real aluminum sides and base, the TJ27 is all a dark gray metallic-painted plastic.  It is slightly bulkier than the TJ25/35 series but not by much.  The added bulk is certainly due to the integrated camera.  The engineers at Sony had to accommodate the additional lens, located on the back, the dedicated camera “shutter” button, and a slider to activate the integrated lens cover.
TJ27 Right Side
The Sony TJ27 – View of the Right Side Showing the Three Position Power Slider, and the
Dedicated Camera Button.

The Screen

The screen is comparable to the earlier TJ series screens with good color depth and brightness.  Although not as bright as the palmOne Zire 71, the TJ27 screen is still very good.  The screen is 320 x 320 pixels with 65,536 colors and a silk-screened graffiti area.  The 320 x 320 screen with the silkscreen graffiti area results in a lower market cost and lower power consumption over screens with virtual graffiti (320 x 480 pixels).  For most users of basic PDAs that’s a good trade off, especially considering most Pocket PC-based PDAs are still using 240 x 320 pixel screens.
TJ27 Screen
TJ27 and Zire 71
The Sony TJ27 and the palmOne Zire 71

The battery life is listed in the manual at 5.5 days for PIM applications with the backlight on.  This is consistent with my findings which allowed a work week of use without charging..  On the TJ27 you have the option of turning off the backlight to conserve energy.  Used with the backlight off battery life may be extended up to 10 days.  There is no video- or mp3- player software included with the TJ27 and the effects of these applications on battery life were not tested.  The TJ27 battery appears very similar to the TJ35 battery tested previously at Bargain PDA, and if a video player was used it would be expected to have comparable performance (~2 hours 20 minutes). Unlike the TJ35, the TJ27 battery is an 800 mA (5.2 V) lithium-ion unit that is not user replaceable.  Although it appears there is a battery access door on the left side of the device,  it has an odd screw head apparently to discourage user tampering.  
TJ27 Left side
The TJ27 Left Side Showing the Battery Door with the Tamper Resistant
(Bottom right)

The PIM function buttons have changed from the TJ25/35’s imprecise, one-piece/two function, barbell-shaped. buttons with poor tactile response. Instead they are one piece/two function bar shaped buttons that could easily be mistaken for a two-tone styling accent.  There are two thin (less than finger width) bars on either side of the scroll wheel, press on the right of the bar and one application will open, pressing on the left of the bar will open a different application.  Sony seems to dedicated to making their application buttons as minimal as possible.  A few more steps in this direction and the application buttons on Sonys will be little more than a vague concept.  That said, the TJ27’s application buttons do have a better tactile response than the TJ25/35 devices and are therefore more functional.  The scrolling wheel is the same design as the TJ25/35 series.  The handy “back” button used with the jog dial on the earlier Sony’s is absent as it was with the TJ25/35.  But the navigational buttons to the immediate right and left of the scroll wheel have some additional functionality compared to the TJ25/35 and the scroll wheel itself integrates well with Sony’s launcher.
TJ27 with Accessories
The Sony TJ27 Fresh Out of the Box

The TJ27 comes with a plastic adaptor that fits into the synchronization connector and plugs into a separate power cord and synchronization cord. Compared to a cradle, it is the charging and synchronization option best suited for traveling (not to mention keeping costs down).  Users can buy a desktop cradle from Sony for $30 if they prefer it.  By maintaining the standard connector using in earlier model Sony’s users will have immediate access to accessories designed for previous models.  The stylus is Sony’s infamous standard: a small, collapsible, metal rod that is uncomfortable in some (usually larger) hands.  It is useable and durable, and Sony likes it enough to include in it all their current PDAs.  Also included: a carrying strap, set up CD, instructions, a flip cover, and power cords.

TJ27 decked out with cover, adaptor and stylus
Sony CLIE TJ27 with cover attached.

See part 2 of the CLIE PEG-27 Review




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