The Sony CLIE TJ35 Handheld is the latest evolution in Sony s compact PDA line and is a solid offering for its $219 list price with Sony s rebate. Sony has integrated the hardware and software features in this compact PDA with characteristic aplomb. The styling is elegant enough and the software practical enough for business use while the price point and fun features are there to attract attention from the more casual user. It most directly competes with PalmOne s excellent Tungsten E ($199) and measures up in terms of features and price. Choosing between the two will come down to an individual s priorities.
Sony PEG-TJ35 Hardware Specifications
|Manufacturer||Sony Corporation||Wireless||Infrared only (IrDA 1.2)|
|OS||Palm OS v. 5.2.1||Connections||USB, Stereo mini-jacks|
|CPU||200 Mhz iMXL Appl. Processor||Display||320 x 320, 65,536 colors|
|RAM||32 MB (23 available to user)||Size||4.25″ x 2.94 ” x 0.47″|
|ROM||8 MB||Weight||4.9 oz|
|Expansion||Memory Stick PRO||Battery||Lithium-Ion (800 mA)|
Pricing for the Sony PEG-TJ35 currently shows the best online price to be $219
Note that the TJ25 and the TJ35 are essentially the same model but the TJ25 is missing the mp3 player/headphone jack, 16 MB of RAM, some software and $50 off the price.
Comparison of the Sony TJ35 with the earlier Sony T615 model
When describing the overall unit, the word sleek comes to mind. The TJ35 hardware is more reminiscent of the T-series Sony PDAs than the SJ-series with the slender metallic look. The TJ is a good deal shorter and even thinner, at 4.25 (10.7 cm) and 0.47 (1.2 cm) than the T-series. Some of the metal on the TJ series is actually painted plastic, but it is difficult if not impossible to tell without a close examination. It is quite an improvement over the SJ-series short, thick, and obviously plastic bodies.
Multiple Angle View of the Sony TJ35
The TJ35 fits well in the hand and the pocket and looks good enough to be recognized as a tool for serious business use. Sony provides a good collection of software, the standout being Picsel viewer. This allows you to view a several file formats on your PDA including the really important ones: PDF, HTML, and native Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. That s worth having!
The famous Sony jog dial has migrated to the navigational controls, front and center below the screen. It mutated along the way into a long cylindrical wheel, like the one found on the Sony UX-series. You can also select items with this new scroll wheel by pressing it in like a button. Unlike the UX-series it has additional buttons on the left and right providing additional directional controls.
TJ35 Buttons and the new jog dial
The back: note the Memory Stick fully inserted.
The headphone jack is on top between the memory stick slot and the IR window and is complemented with on-board mp3 software. The power control is a slider on the lower right side that gives you the option of turning the unit on or off by pushing down or locking the unit in power off by sliding it up. This prevents the unit from becoming inadvertently activated by the application buttons, and draining power, when traveling. The 800 mAh battery is user accessible through a compartment secured by catches and a single screw. It doesn t appear that it is intended to swap out a battery when you run out of power. It is more for situations when your battery goes bad (as they are wont to do) – you can replace it yourself with minimal expense and hassle.
The new jog dial
When the first photos of the TJ35 came out, I thought the new jog wheel was going to be a flop. It looked awkwardly placed and less functional than Palm s 5-way navigator. Having used it now for a few days, I have to give credit to the engineers at Sony: it actually works very well. It is easily manipulated with the thumb while holding the PDA. It is as easily accessed by left- and right-handed alike and makes scrolling through documents feel more controllable than with the 5-way navigator. Sony s customized application launcher is designed to take advantage of this scrolling action and together the navigator and the launcher work beautifully. I have not had the chance to apply this type of navigation to games, however.
TJ35 newly-placed jog wheel works well with Sony s application launcher
Big hat, no cradle
The TJ35 does not come with a cradle, although one is available from Sony for $30. Although Sony has kept the same connector on the TJ-series as was on the SJ- and T-series, the unit is too wide to fit the earlier cradles. Instead a plastic adaptor is included that snaps into the synchronization connector and allows you to connect a power cord for recharging and/or a mini-USB cord for synchronization. While less convenient for constant desktop use, this is perfect for traveling light and should suit most users.
TJ35 complete with the included side-clip cover, collapsing stylus, and the synchronization and charging adapter
The screen display overall looks good. The high-resolution color display (320 x320) produces over 65,000 colors and is better, in terms of color depth and brightness, than earlier compact Sony models I compared it to. It is not quite as good as the new screens on the larger Sonys, Tungsten C, T2, and Zire 71.
It is the typical Sony skinny stylus: uncomfortable for larger fingers and made less comfortable because it retracts to a smaller size. This makes half of it not just thin, but really thin. Think toothpick. It is metal though, so you could pick your teeth well into your denture stage.
As mentioned earlier, Picsel is a great program that anyone will appreciate who has need of document referencing on the go. This program is not on the TJ25. Other nice inclusions on the TJ35 are Sony s standard application launcher that has been optimized to work with the scroll wheel, Sony s memo pad that lets you jot down quick notes as you would using a pen and paper, Sony s new Decuma handwriting recognition system that allows you to write whole words before it is translated into electronic text, the Aeroplayer mp3 player software, picture viewing software, the ever-important backup software, and various file management programs all come standard with the TJ35. Additional games and utilities are provided on the disk as trial software that you eventually will have to pay extra for if you decide to keep them.
TJ35 Bundled Software
Aero Player (MP3 Player)*
Data Export v.1.0 (for PC)
Palm Desktop v.4.1 (for PC)
Image Converter v.1.1 (for PC)
Memory Stick Backup
To Do List
Decuma (text-recognition software)*
Picsel Viewer (for PDF, HTML, MS Office files)*
World Alarm Clock
* Not included on the Sony TJ25 model
The Sony TJ35 v. the Tungsten E
The fact is Sony s CLIE TJ35 and PalmOne s Tungsten E are competing products. They both cost around $200 and they both have similar feature sets. Both have mp3 players, hi-res screens, thin form factors, expansion capabilities, PalmOS 5.2.1, and business-oriented software. The Sony will allow you to view your MS Office files, but will not allow you to edit them. The Tungsten E allows editing of MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. The Sony will allow you to use Sony accessories already on the market because it uses a synchronization connector standard on earlier Sony (T-series and SJ-series) models. The Tungsten E will not, it does not share Palm s universal connector. The Sony uses memory stick expansion, the Tungsten E uses Secure Digital cards. Memory stick use is reported to be slightly more widespread (although not necessarily in PDAs), but it is Sony s format. In my experience this translates into a slightly higher cost/MB for memory stick memory although this depends on where you look. Memory Stick expansion options are generally less accessible and more expensive than their Secure Digital counterparts when they are even available. Even with Sony s $30 rebate for the TJ35 ($20 for the TJ25), the price is $20 higher than the Tungsten. What you get is a slightly nicer form factor, a charging and on-status LED, a user accessible battery, immediate compatibility with Sony accessories, and Sony s software and navigator versus Pa1mOne s.
The follow up final review will have full discussion of battery life, screen comparisons, and a review of the included software. I ll also continue and expand the comparison between the TJ35 and the Tungsten E. If you’re already convinced by this short review that the TJ35 is for you then follow this link to view all the latest pricing and specs.