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Sony Clie (color) model PEG-NR70 and NR70V

(discontinued)

Sony struck gold with the NR70, introduced at the end of April 2002. These models are faster, have larger screens, a unique swiveling screen and a keyboard plus graffiti. They were replaced by the NX60 and NX70V which were later replaced by the NX73 and NX80.

The NR70V model has a built-in 1/10th megapixel digital camera, which adds $100 to the base $499 price tag (you can save images directly to the Memory Stick). This is low resolution, so don't expect it to stand in place of a real digital camera. But it is handy for quick spontaneous snap shots and vertical market applications.

Clie NR70 open

Sony Clie NR70V

 

This is the first Palm OS PDA to have a 66MHz Dragonball processor (other Palm OS units have a 33MHz processor these days). Speed freaks and gamers take note!

Not only is this thing twice as fast as any other Palm OS PDA, but it has a 320 x 480 pixel screen. That's higher than Pocket PCs and considerably larger than the 160 x 160 pixel screen standard on most other Palm OS PDAs. Sony's "old" standard of 320 x 320 was attractive enough to sell a large number of units, and the NR70 will probably set a new precedent in PDA displays and in sales for Sony. The screen resolution when the software graffiti area is displayed is 320 x 320. You can "hide" the graffiti area to increase the usable screen size to 320 x 480 for viewing images, playing games and watching movies using the excellent free Kinoma Player and so on. Most apps don't support the extended area however, so most of the time you won't be able to hide the graffiti area.

Will you flip over this PDA? Well, if you dig being able to flip the LCD, then you just might. You can use the NR70 in clamshell mode, with the keyboard on the table and the screen upright, or you can flip and rotate the screen so that the Clié is closed flat with the LCD facing out, and you can probably put it in any orientation you want! How sturdy will the swivel joint be? Only time will tell. The joint feels solid and secure.

A/V Remote

Just as with some other Clié models, you'll get A/V remote control software that can control up to 15 pieces of home audio and video equipment (and not just Sony brand ). The IR is strong enough to reach up to 15 feet, but our couch is only about 9 feet away from our home entertainment center so that's the farthest I tested). There are about 5 to 10 supported brands, depending on the component type. I was able to control Yamaha receiver, a Sharp TV and VCR, Sony DVD and CD/MD deck but not our Zenith TV (not listed as an available TV brand).

Software Bundle

The software bundle with Sony PDAs is always excellent. Sony includes their own software for image viewing and editing that runs at high resolution, and you get some nice 3rd party software like Documents To Go standard edition from DataViz for working with Word and Excel files, and Intellisync Lite if you want to sync to Outlook or Lotus rather than Palm Desktop.

Picture Gear Pocket is an image viewer for the Clié and it also has a desktop application that lets you copy and covert image and movies files back and forth from your PDA (supports Memory Stick). gMovie is as you guessed, a movie viewer. You can use Picture Gear on the desktop to convert most all movie formats to Clié-friendly format. However, it doesn't make very high quality movies. Try downloading some wide screen movie trailers from Sony Pictures web site PDA section and playing them with Kinoma Player if you want to see what this PDA is really capable of! See the specs section for a more complete list of included software.

How good is that Camera?

Below are some sample images to give you an idea. These are full size, un-edited and shot at the highest resolution (320 x 240 pixels) with auto White Balance. You can also save shots in 160 x 120 or 88 x 88 pixel resolutions. Hi-res images are only 40k in size. The files are saved in your choice of PGP (Picture Gear Pocket, which is saved in .prc format) or DCF (.jpeg format). You can save images internally or to a memory stick. White Balance settings are Auto, Indoor A and Indoor B (incandescent vs. fluorescent), and Outdoor. For Effects you get B&W, Sepia, Neg-Art and Solarize. The camera makes a shutter sound via the speaker, and you can change the volume or turn this off so as to not disturb your subject. You can also have the date appear in your captured images, similar to most film and digicams on the market. You don't need to launch the Camera app to take pictures: there's a shutter button on the left side of the PDA located in the swivel joint area. Press that once and the Camera app opens up and shows you what the lens sees, and press it a second time to snap your picture. The Camera app shows you the image that the lens sees, has a capture button on-screen and has a Tools screen where you'll set your image capture options. It doesn't allow you to view previously taken pictures. You'll use the pre-installed Picture Gear Pocket to view and manage your photos. You get a desktop version of Picture Gear Pocket that allows you to transfer still shots and movies to and from your Clie.

 

 

 

 

 

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Indoors, next to a window. Shot 1 foot away (it gets pretty close!).

Sammy. Porch with sidelight. The camera does have trouble balancing dark subjects and bright back light/side light.

Expansion

The unit is expandable via Sony's Memory Stick technology. These are tiny stick-shaped removable memory cards already used by some Sony digital cameras, and supported by some newer Sony VAIO notebooks. It comes with 16 megs of RAM built in. If you're going to use that built-in MP3 player, get yourself some Memory Sticks. You can use the purple ones rather than the white MagicGate ones for MP3s (don't believe what Sony says with their Music Czar hat on). Just drag your MP3 files from your computer onto the Memory Stick window on your desktop using the MS Import application which allows you to mount the Memory Stick as a hard drive on your PC. The same goes for MissingSync for the Mac and file copying Memory Sticks.

A Bluetooth Memory Stick is available in Japan, and we should see it in the US sometime in 2002. There's also a Memory Stick digital camera, in case you didn't get the camera model and want to add it later.

Conclusion

A really nice unit. Good: fast processor, magnesium body, awesome screen and color, flip design, integrated keyboard, slim design and Sony software bundle. The multimedia features and performance give Pocket PCs a run for their money. Drawback: Unlike the Palm and Handspring PDAs, the Sony CLIE doesn't come with software to sync to the Macintosh. You'll need to buy MissingSync from Mark/Space to sync with a Mac. Not much networking support yet. Battery lasts only about 4 hours at 1/2 backlight setting. These PDAs are pricey!

 

Specs:

Specs: models NR70 and NR70V

Display: 320 x 480 pixels, 65,000 colors backlit TFT active matrix display. Hi resolution allows for much sharper images and text compared to other Palm OS competitors' PDAs.

Performance: 66 MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ processor. 16 megs of built in RAM. 8 megs of flash ROM for flash upgrades and OS.

Size: 5 1/2 (H) x 2 7/8 (W) x 11/16 (D) inches, 7 oz.

Modem: None included. Sold separately.

Battery: Uses a rechargeable Lithium Ion Polymer battery. AC adapter/charger included.

Audio: Built in speaker for alarms. Built-in stereo MP3 Player (you better get a larger memory stick if you want to make use of it though!). It plays real sounds rather than only Midi synthesized sounds.

Software: Palm OS 4.1 and the usual suite of Palm applications, including Palm HotSync, Address Book, Date Book, Clock, To Do List, Memo Pad, Calculator. In addition, you get Sony multimedia applications for MP3 playback, video playback and more. AV Remote software: supports TV, VCR, DVD and AV receivers from various manufacturers. Sony Software: CLIÉ™ Audio Player, CLIÉ™ Mail, CLIÉ™ Paint, CLIÉ™ Remote Commander, Memory Stick ® Autorun Memory Stick ® Backup, Memory Stick ® Export v. 1.0 (for PC), Memory Stick ® Gate Memory Stick ® Import, PictureGear™ v. 4.5 Lite (for PC) PictureGear™ Pocket, SonicStage LE (for PC), Sound Converter v. 1.0 (for PC), Sound Utility, World Alarm Clock.

Other software: Palm Desktop 4.01, Intellisync™ Lite v. 4.0 for syncing to desktop programs other than Palm Desktop, Documents to Go Standard Edition for editing and viewing Word and Excel files on your PDA.

USB sync cradle, headphones, audio remote control, rechargeable battery and A/C adapter included.

 

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