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ED#14 : The New Sony CLIÉ PEG-UX50 - Evolution of the PDA
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ED#14 : The New Sony CLIÉ PEG-UX50 - Evolution of the PDA!

Everyone in the Palm scene was waiting eagerly for the announcement of a new CLIÉ by Sony last Friday. We knew it would be somewhat different from earlier models. But how different could it really be anyway?

Like other PDAs, it could not possibly differ much other than addressing problems of previous models and the typical "upgrades" of additional features, a faster processor, a new form factor, maybe a brighter screen or longer battery life, et cetera. Earlier this year, Sony announced the possibility of releasing a new CLIÉ model. Of course, I did not expected Sony to launch it so soon although many reports seem to hint at that direction.

So, what sets this Sony CLIÉ PEG-UX50 apart from the rest?

    1. 480 x 320 widescreen format - First in the PDA consumer industry!
    2. WLAN and Bluetooth support built-in - First for a Palm device!
    3. A new Sony-designed processor called the Handheld Engine which combines an ARM926 processor, DSP and a graphics accelerator!
    4. Backlit keypad! - Personally, I think this is a very useful feature if you need to use it in dark or poorly lit places.
    5. Swivel-type screen which allows for keypad mode or tablet mode!

Pictures courtesy of Sony


First Impressions

My first impressions of the new CLIÉ PEG-UX50 are pretty good but I do have some reservations about its design and features.

The integration of miniature digital cameras in higher-end CLIÉ models produced mixed reactions since the camera was not up to par as far as picture quality was concerned. However, the last CLIÉ to appear - the NX80V finally came with a better 1.3 Megapixels digital camera. So it shocked me to see that they fitted the UX50 with only a low quality 300K CMOS camera!

Sony has always been very generous with the screens provided with the CLIÉ PDAs. To date, Sony CLIÉ screens are among the largest in the industry! But in the UX50, they reduced the size of its screen from the usual 3.8" to just 3.2"! This is probably due to the large bezel around the screen as seen in the photo below.

Picture courtesy of Sony

It really makes the unit look ugly in keypad mode. But I believe they did this for practical reasons.

The large bezel area allows your thumb to rest comfortably while maintaining proper grip of the unit. But I think this could be more acceptable if they had not chosen to use a black bezel... Come on, SONY!!! What were you thinking? The black bezel looks so out of place. It actually makes the unit look dated!

Another let-down is the unavailability of a CompactFlash slot. Sony Memory Sticks are still way too costly, compared to cheap CompactFlash cards. Worse of all, by limiting the unit to a single Memory Stick slot, this prevents the UX50 from using non-storage Memory Sticks.



Personally, I feel consumers should skip the new UX50 and wait a little while longer. The new Palm OS 6 should be out later this year and it's a safe bet that Sony will introduce a new model for the new OS by then.

IMHO, they could have done a better job with the UX50. And I'm sure they will with the UX50's successor. But right now, the UX50 is definitely not something I would seriously consider after weighing the few but important issues I highlighted above.

However, I believe that the introduction of the new UX50 is an important landmark in the handheld computing industry. It sets a new standard and raises the bar for capabilities and features possessed by handheld computers. And yet for a price of USD 699.99, it is quite reasonably priced when you compare it against other high-end handheld computers.

You can find out more about the Sony CLIÉ PEG-UX50 here!


Questions & Comments

If you have any questions or comments about this article, please feel free to post them here! We look forward to hearing from you! :)

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