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Review of Sony's multimedia PEG TH55 Clie PDA, running Palm OS5

BRIEFLY: One of the best PDAs ever!

PROS: Fast, small, fuly featured with a chuffin' marvellous battery life

CONS: No headphones or cradle included, limited landscape display support


Could Sony's multimedia pocket rocket be the perfect PDA?
Review by urban75 for Internet Magazine, July 2004

This is the first of Sony's large-screen PDA's to eschew their traditional clamshell design, jettisoning the built in micro keyboard to keep the machine as pocketable as possible.

And, boy, what a tiny little puppy it is - you'd be hard pressed to find any other pint-sized PDA stuffed with as many features. Sony TH55 PDA

Sony's designers have really pulled out the stops for this machine: it looks ice-cool, housed in a discrete black shell with a stylish smoked-glass effect cover which flips open, 'Beam Me Up Scotty' style.

External application buttons are laid flush at the base with the trademark scroll wheel migrating to the back of the unit - it feels odd at first but soon becomes intuitive.

Although hardcore gamers may not like the way Sony has shuffled the hardware buttons around, it's a nifty arrangement that lets you quickly access information without having to flip open the cover.

The screen is superb: a large, bright, transflective 320-by-480 pixel beast (3.8 inches across) housed in a tablet form.


Making a date

Sporting a colourful interface and a tabbed launcher, Sony's Clie Organiser suite takes care of your Personal Information Management needs with some pizzazz. Sony TH55 PDA

The humble Datebook is now a feast of multimedia, letting you drag and drop photos, voice clips, notes and icons to set appointments.

Scribbled notes and diagrams can be drawn directly on the screen, while amnesiacs and drunks will like being able to add photo mugshots to address book contacts.

The TH55 can read a wide range of document formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat etc) using the built-in Picsel Viewer software.

Despite its bonkers spinning interface, it's a fast and capable reader (naturally, if you don't like Sony's animated approach, you can always switch back to Palm's default programs or use third party software).


Connect four

Offering wi-fi, Bluetooth, infrared and USB the Sony is a veritable Clapham Junction of connectivity.

Using your mobile to connect to the internet via infrared and Bluetooth is easy enough, but large web pages will crawl down the line slower than a drunken slug moving over a sticky bun on a hot day.

Using the 802.11b WLAN adds considerable zip, with the built in 'sniffer' making it a breeze to locate and connect to wi-fi networks when you're out and about.

The handy multiple page formatting options of the built-in web browser, NetFront make sites easier to read onscreen while email is taken care of by Clie Mail, a fairly basic application with support for multiple accounts, attachments, filters and signatures.

(Note: only the European version of the TH55 comes with Bluetooth)



The TH55 comes stuffed to the gills with multimedia features: you can record voice memos, play MP3 files, full screen videos and Macromedia Flash files. There's even a built in speaker!

Little known fact: you can also record videos on the TH55 if you can track down a copy of Sony's 'MovieRecorder.prc' file (this was included with the Sony UX50, NX73, NX80 and UX40 PDAs). Built in camera, Sony TH55 PDA

The Sony comes with a built-in camera, activated by flipping back a protective cover.

The screen acts as the viewfinder with a hardware shutter button provided on the side.

Although it only takes pictures up to 640x480 pixels, the quality is easily good enough for web use or even small print outs.

Of course, all these funky features aren't much use unless there's a speedy processor and a decent battery to support them - and here the Sony didn't disappoint.

Programs moved nippily along and the battery life was a real surprise for such a small unit - we still had juice left after five hours of solid MP3 playback!


The verdict

Offering an amazing set of features in a tiny package, the TH55 is about as close to the perfect PDA as we've seen.

The vast array of connectivity options let you access the web wherever you are, and the built in camera, MP3 and movie playback options make this is a fun machine to carry around at a very attractive price


More info:
» Find out more at
» Buy it on
» Discuss the TH55 on the ClieSource forums

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