Sony CLIE N770C

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  • Editors' rating
    7.0 Very good

Pros

  • High-resolution screen
  • built-in MP3 player.

Cons

  • Moderate battery life.

With the CLIE N770C, Sony has delivered a handheld to rival anything from the PocketPC camp. It has a high-resolution screen, an MP3 player and a Memory Stick slot -- all for the price of a typical Pocket PC device.

It has to be said that, with a 16-bit colour screen and built-in players for MP3 and video, the CLIE N770C borrows a great deal from the PocketPC. However, it runs version 4.1 of Palm OS 4.1 rather than Mirosoft's handheld operating system.

One of the CLIE N770C's main strong points is its front-lit screen, which is both bright and responsive. This display has no less than four times as many pixels as any other Palm OS handheld -- the resolution is 320 by 320 pixels compared to the standard 160 by 160. Amazingly, the extra pixels don't hamper the display's responsiveness at all. The one disadvantage of the high-resolution screen is its high power consumption, which means that battery life is limited -- Sony claims 15 days with 30 minutes' usage a day.

The rest of the design is nothing exceptional -- 33MHz Motorola Dragonball EZ processor, 8MB of RAM. An expansion slot, the CLIE uses Sony's proprietary Memory Stick, allows the device to hold plenty of MP3s as well as videos. The MP3 player is of excellent quality, although the supplied headphones leave something to be desired.

The silver and chrome colours give the CLIE N770C a modern look. On the left-hand side there's a navigation Jog Dial wheel, a 'back' button for returning to the preceding application, a switch to lock the buttons against being pushed accidentally and a jack for the headphone/remote control unit. The infrared port, the Memory Stick slot, the stylus and the clips for the screen protector are all located at the top of the device.

The CLIE N770C is a very good Palm OS handheld, whose main drawback is its limited battery life. However, it's no worse in this respect than the PocketPC devices against which it competes, and there are a lot more Palm OS applications than PocketPC ones.

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