About two years ago, Sony introduced the first
PDA with an integrated digital camera, the NR70V. Now with the
TJ27 and TJ37 models, even entry-level
Cliés come with an integrated digicam!
These two new models replace the TJ25
and TJ35, which were introduced in the Fall of 2003. The
integrated digicam is the most salient upgrade to that line,
along with WiFi on the TJ37. The TJs have high res 320 x 320
pixel color displays, a 200 MHz processor running Palm OS 5.2.1.
These digicam toting Cliés will likely compete with Palm's
very successful Zire 71. Like
its predecessor the TJ25, the TJ27 is targeted at business users
who don't crave multimedia and bells and whistles, but rather
a highly portable and powerful machine. The TJ37,
which adds MP3 playback hardware and software along with a movie
player will suit those who want a good dose of multimedia in
a reasonably priced unit.
Design and Ergonomics
The TJ27 and TJ37 look identical except for the
casing color, headphone jack and combined IR/WiFi windows located
on the top edge of the TJ37. Both have an aluminum casing that's
attractive, light and strong. The TJs are very small and light.
They come with a detachable black flip cover which snaps onto the
left side of the unit. The camera lens is located on the back of
the unit and there's a slider switch which allows you to cover
and protect the lens.
The combined power button/hold switch is located
on the lower right side and the camera capture button is just below
it. The Memory Stick slot and IR port are on top. 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. While
the earlier TJs used the same rocker design, they had circular
buttons, while the new TJ27 and 37 have slim horizontal bars. I
personally prefer buttons which are larger and easier to press.
The TJs have 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 and I prefer the jog dial on the side where
it's easy to manipulate when holding the unit with one hand.
Above, the side of the TJ27, with
capture button and power/hold switch slider on the left end.
Horsepower and Expandability
The TJ27 and TJ37, like Sony's other high end Palm
OS 5 models, have a 200 MHz processor. Like prior TJs, the new models
use the same 200 MHz i.MXL ARM family processor that feels snappy and
responsive in all tasks. The TJ27 has 32 megs of internal RAM, 23 of
which are available to the user to store programs and data. 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 TJ27 and TJ37 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 cradle is available
separately if you prefer a cradle over a cable.
Display and Sound
The screen is a backlit TFT hi-res 320 x 320
pixel, 65,000 color TFT. Though Sony makes some of the sharpest
and brightest PDA displays on the market, the entry level TJs have
screens that are sharp, but not particularly bright. Colors are
saturated and pleasing when viewing JPEGs, so it makes a nice image
viewer even though it's not the brightest PDA on the block. The
screen has a slight cool color bias (like most Cliés), and
is evenly lit with no stray light coming from the edges of the
Unlike other Cliés,
the TJ27 has what Sony calls a "buzzer" for alarms. It
emits the familiar Palm OS midi sounds for alarms. It doesn't have
polyphonic audio, and offers no MP3 playback or stereo output capabilities.
Both models have a Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable
battery that is not user replaceable. Since the display isn't hugely
bright, the TJ27 doesn't consume a great deal of power, and the
i.MXL processor seems quite power efficient. It should last a few
days on a charge using PIM and office apps. Gaming and video playback
will shorten battery life, which is true of all PDAs.
Since the TJ27 is a low end PDA by Sony standards,
it doesn't come with a huge software bundle. You'll get Palm Desktop
4.1 for PCs (not Mac), 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. If you're a Mac
user, you'll either need to give iSync a try, or get MissingSync
from www.markspace.com to
enjoy full syncing capabilities with your Mac. Though the TJ27
doesn't come with software to view and edit MS Office docs in the
box, users who register their Clié will recieve a registration
code to download and register DataViz® Documents To Go® Professional
Edition version 6.0 for free.
Mac Users: the
Sony Clié doesn't come with software to sync to the Macintosh.
You'll need to buy MissingSync from
Mark/Space to sync with a Mac. It costs $30 and does an exceptional
job in Mac OS 9 and X.
We've come a long way, thanks largely to Sony
when it comes to integrated digicams. While other brands of PDAs
with integrated digicams tend to be larger to accommodate the
camera, the new TJs are remarkably small and Sony hasn't increased
the size while adding the camera into what essentially is a revision
of the compact TJ25 and 35 models. Sony has the best line of
integrated cameras, and they take very good quality photos by
PDA standards. I was impressed at how well the TJ27 did with
low light indoor shots even though the unit doesn't have a flash
or capture light. Outdoor pictures were pleasing, though some
overexposure is apparent on very bright daylight shots. Since
PDA cameras are typically VGA affairs with CMOS sensors that
have been shrunk down to fit in a handheld, so don't expect to
throw away your standalone digicam. That said, the Cliés
continue to beat the competition.
The TJ27 has a CMOS .31 megapixel VGA digicam
capable of taking photos at a maximum resolution of 640 x 460.
Unlike higher-end Cliés, it cannot shoot movies.
To take photos, simply press the capture button
on the side of the TJ, or launch the Clié Camera application.
If you forget to open the lens cover, the Clié will remind
you when you launch the app.
The TJ can save images in 640 x 460, 320 x
240, 320 x 480 or 160 x 120 size to either internal memory or
a Memory Stick. 640 x 480 images average about 100 to 125k. You
can let the Clié set brightness and white balance automatically,
or you can tweak the settings yourself. The unit offers two effects:
B&W and Sepia (higher-end Cliés offer more effects).
Above, sample photos taken with
the TJ27. Click on the photo to see the original full-size image,
The TJ37 includes the above mentioned software,
and 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 TJ37 comes with Picsel Viewer, a very capable application
that allows you to view (but not edit) MS Office documents, HTML
files and PDFs.
Comparing the TJ27 to the Zire 71
If you're in the market for a relatively low
cost Palm OS PDA with an integrated camera, the TJ27, TJ37 and Palm
Zire 71 are your choices. If price is important and you don't
need an MP3 player, the $199 TJ27 compares well to the $249 Zire
71. While the screen is brighter and better on the Zire 71, the
TJ's is certainly very nice and usable. The TJ takes better pictures
than the Zire 71, is more compact and has no moving parts (the
camera mechanism slides open on the Zire 71). Once you register
your TJ27, you'll be able to download Documents To Go 6 Professional
for viewing and editing MS Office documents, while the Zire 71
doesn't come with an MS Office suite. The TJ27 has 10 megs more
available memory than the Zire 71.
Pro: Fast Palm OS 5 device with a 200 MHz processor.
Has an integrated VGA digital camera that takes good shots by PDA
standards. Attractive unit that's among the smallest and lightest
PDAs. You can use Sony T, SJ and NX series accessories, including
Sony's keyboard. Con: The screen isn't very bright on either model.
Battery isn't user replaceable. Not much of a software bundle.
No polyphonic audio, so you'll be enjoy only a limited palette
of midi alarms.
List price: TJ27 $199
x 320 pixels, 65,000 colors backlit TFT.
MHz i.MXL processor (ARM family processor made by
Motorola). 32 megs of RAM with 23 available to the
1/2 x 3 x 17/32 inches. 5 ounces (145 grams).
Rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer. Not user replaceable.
.31 megapixel CMOS VGA camera for photos (not movies).
F2.8 lens with 3.6mm focal length (equiv. to a 35mm
lens on a 35mm film camera). Focus range .23m to
infinity. White balance: auto, outdoor, indoor A
(incandescent) and indoor B (fluorescent). Picture
effects: none, B&W, sepia. Brightness: auto and
5 steps of manual adjustment from -2 to + 2. Self-timer
and 2x digital zoom.
has a "buzzer" for alarms that uses midi
sounds, and no discreet speaker and no polyphonic
audio as on other Cliés.
/ Wireless: No
modem included. WiFi 802.11b on TJ37 only.
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) and a lot of trial/demo software. Documents
To Go 6 Professional can be downloaded for free upon
registration of the Clié. Desktop software:
Palm Desktop 4.1 for PC (not Mac), Intellisync Lite
v. 4.0 for syncing to Outlook on the PC.
flip cover, USB sync cable, AC adapter/charger
and software CD included.