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Sony Clie TJ25 and TJ35

(discontinued)

Posted October 3, 2003, by Lisa Gade Editor in Chief


(Check out the TJ27, introduced Feb. 2004 to replace the TJ25 and the
TJ37 which replaced the TJ35. They add a digital camera and more RAM).

Sony has become synonymous with high end Palm OS devices thanks to their NX73V, NX80V, UX series and other models. The mid-range SJ33 has done well, but there really hasn't been much lately for consumers looking for lower priced models offering strong performance and the latest operating system.

Enter the Clié TJ25 and TJ35, which have high res 320 x 320 pixel color displays, a 200 MHz processor running Palm OS 5.2.1.The TJ25 and the Clié TJ35, introduced in October 2003, compete directly with Palm's new Tungsten E. The TJ25 is targeted at business users who don't crave multimedia and bells and whistles, but rather a highly portable and powerful machine, and the TJ35 adds an MP3 player and more memory to the basic TJ25 package.

Sony CLIE TJ25 Sony TJ25 back view

Above: the Clié TJ25. The TJ35 looks the same except for the headphone jack located on top center next to the Memory Stick slot (see photo below).

back of Sony Clie TJ35

 

 

 

 

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Design and Ergonomics

The TJ25 and TJ35 look identical except for the headphone jack located on the top edge of the TJ35. Both have an aluminum casing that's attractive, light and strong. The TJs are very small, and competes well with the Tungsten E (see comparison photos). They come with a detachable black flip cover (neoprene-like material with a rigid insert on the TJ25 and what looks like black nylon on the TJ35). These covers snap onto the left side of the unit, which works well for right handed users.

The combined power button/hold switch is located on the lower right side, while the Memory Stick slot and IR port on top. The TJ35's headphone jack is located between the IR port and the Memory Stick slot. The four application buttons are interestingly designed: the left pair are actually one piece rocker switches, as are the right pair, which means you won't be able to do simultaneous button presses in games. Sony has abandoned the popular side jog dial used in previous Cliés, and instead they've put a combined jog dial and left/right directional control on the front where a d-pad or up/down keys would be located on other brands and models. This jog dial allows you to scroll up and down, or move sideways, while pressing on the center functions as an action button. I would prefer a standard 5 way directional pad to this design.

Below: comparing the size of the Clié TJ25 and the Palm Tungsten E. The TJ is on the left in the top photo, and on the bottom in the lower photo.

Sony Clie TJ25 and Palm Tungsten E

Clie TJ25 and Palm Tungsten E

 

Horsepower and Expandability

The TJ25 and TJ35, like Sony's other high end Palm OS 5 models, have a 200 MHz processor. The TJ25 has 16 megs of internal RAM, 11 of which are available to the user to store programs and data. The TJ35 has 32 megs of RAM of which 23 are available for your use. The rest of the RAM is set aside as program memory (just like the RAM in your PC) so fairly large and complex programs can run on the PDA. Some Sony value-added programs are permanently stored in ROM, not in this RAM area.

The units feel fast, and run Kinoma videos and demanding games well.

The TJ25 and TJ35 have a Memory Stick slot that works with regular Memory Sticks and Memory Stick Pro media.

The units use the same connector as all recent Cliés, so existing peripherals should work with the TJ (other than cradles). The TJ models come with a USB sync cable and no cradle. A TJ cradle is available separately if you prefer a cradle over a cable.

Display

The screen is a backlit TFT hi-res 320 x 320 pixel, 65,000 color TFT. Sony has some of the best PDA screens in the industry, so I was surprised at how dim the display is on the TJ25 and TJ35. Even on its brightest setting it's not particularly bright. Colors are saturated and pleasing when viewing JPEGs, but the screen is too dim to do justice to the good color and sharpness of the display. The screen has a blue bias (like most Cliés), and is evenly lit with no stray light coming from the edges of the display.

Battery

Both models have a Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable battery that is not user replaceable. Both exhibited very good battery life— one benefit of a dim display is that it doesn't use as much power as a very bright one. It should easily last a few days on a charge using PIM and office apps. Gaming and videos will shorten battery life, as with all PDAs.

Software Bundle

Since this is a low end PDA by Sony standards, it doesn't come with a huge software bundle. You'll get Palm Desktop 4.1for PCs, Intellisync Lite for syncing to Outlook, Clié Image Viewer, Memory Stick Backup, Clié Launcher, Graffiti 2 handwriting recognition, the usual Palm OS PIM apps and Clié Memo and the free Palm Reader.

Since the TJ35 has an MP3 player, it comes with the popular AeroPlayer (this is the first Clié that doesn't use Sony's own MP3 player application). The TJ models use the Palm OS sound APIs rather than custom Sony APIs, so audio software for Palm brand PDAs should run on the TJs.

The TJ35 also adds Decuma handwriting recognition which has appeared on other recent Cliés. It's an excellent system that allows you to write naturally and even write an entire sentence at a time. In addition, the TJ35 comes with Picsel Viewer, a very capable application that allows you to view (but not edit) MS Office documents, HTML files and PDFs.

What the Unit is Not

We normally don't have this kind of section, but since Sony has become synonymous with multimedia and certain other features, some folks might assume the TJ models have some of the more common Clié features. It doesn't have an AV remote or consumer IR, it doesn't have a camera, and it doesn't come with a movie viewer app, image editor or paint program, though you can install your own 3rd party applications.

Comparing the TJ25 and TJ35 to the Palm Tungsten E

Had the TJ25 come out before the Tungsten E, it might have seemed a better value than it does now. The E has more memory, an MP3 player, a significantly better screen and an excellent software bundle. The TJ does have a bit faster processor, but most users won't notice the difference in performance, and it does use the standard Sony connector for peripherals, while the Tungsten E isn't compatible with Palm universal connector accessories. The Clié TJ35, which sells for $249 is the more direct competitor feature-for-feature with the Tungsten E, though unlike the Tungsten E, it doesn't include Documents To Go for editing rather than just viewing MS Office documents. Sony is offering a $20 rebate unit Jan. 3, 2004 on the TJ25 when purchased from any dealer, and a $30 rebate on the TJ35, which does help sweeten the pot.

Conclusion

Pro: They're powerful, fast Palm OS 5 devices with a 200 MHz processor. They're attractive and one of the smallest and lightest PDAs. You can use Sony T, SJ and NX series accessories, including Sony's keyboard. If you can afford it, go with the TJ35 since it has more memory, Picsel Viewer, Decuma and an MP3 player. Con: Disappointing that Sony's suite of their own fine in-house apps aren't included with this unit, except Clié Viewer. The screen isn't very bright on either model. Battery isn't user replaceable.

List price: TJ25 $199, TJ35 $249

 

Specs:

Display: 320 x 320 pixels, 65,000 colors backlit TFT.

Performance: 200 MHz i.MXL processor (ARM family processor made by Motorola). TJ25: 16 megs of built in RAM (11 megs available to the user). 8 megs of ROM. TJ35: 32 megs of RAM with 23 megs available to the user.

Size: 4 3/8 x 3 x 15/32 inches. 4.9 ounces.

Modem / Wireless: None included

Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer. Not swappable.

Audio: Built in speaker for alarms.

Software: Palm OS 5.2.1 and the usual suite of Palm applications, including Palm HotSync, Address Book, Date Book, Clock, To Do List, Memo Pad, Calculator and Graffiti 2 handwriting recognition software. In addition, you get Sony Software: Memory Stick Backup, Data Import/ Export (for mounting Memory Sticks on PC desktops), Palm Reader, and a lot of trial/demo software.

The TJ35 adds AeroPlayer MP3 player for Clié, Decuma handwriting recognition and Picsel Viewer for viewing MS Office documents, HTML files and PDFs.

Other software: Palm Desktop 4.1 for PC (not Mac), Intellisync™ Lite v. 4.0 for syncing to Outlook on the PC and Kickoo's Breakout.

Screen flip cover, USB sync cable, AC adapter/charger included.

 

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