- ✓Solid design
- ✓16MB of RAM
- ✓bright, clear transflective LCD screen.
- ✕Mac software not included
- ✕unusable scroll button.
Sony's new CLIE PEG-T625C isn't a radical improvement over the previous colour CLIE models, but its elegant design and reasonable price make it an attractive choice for anyone seeking a high-end Palm OS handheld. We just wish Sony would include software for Macintosh users.
The T625C is the first handheld we've seen with a colour transflective LCD, a screen technology that uses a traditional backlight for dim situations and also reflects ambient light from the front, making it easy to read in very bright sunlight. Most other colour handhelds use a reflective LCD with small sidelights squeezed in between the LCD and the digitiser (the part you actually tap with your stylus). We found this CLIE's high-resolution, 320 by 320 pixel screen to be sharp, bright and colourful, and it worked well in every lighting situation. Also, it's easier to tap precisely on this screen because the gap between the digitiser and the LCD is smaller.
The brushed-aluminium case of the T625C has a solid, durable feel to it. Our review unit was silver, but it's also available in blue. Although it's thicker than the monochrome PEG-T425, this 9.9mm-thick model is still exceptionally slim for a colour handheld and rests easily in a shirt pocket. Sony's designers did a great job of sculpting the edges so that the T625C feels just right in your hand. However, the minuscule scroll button below the screen is so small that it's nearly useless. Fortunately, the jog dial on the left-hand side can perform most of the same functions.
To protect the screen, there's a removable, black-leather flip cover. But the cover, which lacks the magnetic clasp found on other CLIE models, tends to flop around.
Inside the aluminium case, there's a 33MHz processor and 16MB of RAM. That's likely to be more than you'll need for storing calendar, contact and to-do-list info. But if you plan to load lots of third-party applications, you'll appreciate the extra RAM. There's also a Memory Stick slot on the top to add either more memory or Sony's new Memory Stick digital camera. In our tests, the T625C 's rechargeable lithium-polymer battery lived up to its rated 12 days of use between charges. Although this model can't play MP3 files, it does have a variety of sounds -- some of which are pretty cheesy -- that you can set to play as alarms, and it has a desktop utility so that you can load your favourite WAV and MIDI files.
Sony piles on the software extras with the T625C. In addition to the usual Palm OS apps, you get Documents To Go Standard Edition for working with Word and Excel files. If you're looking for something a little more fun, there's also Sony's signature gMovie and PictureGear Pocket software to show off the high-resolution screen. With CLIE Paint you can draw freehand or on top of photos that you have stored on the device. Sony also includes remote-control software so that you can use your handheld to command your home-cinema gear, but we didn't like having to use the stylus to navigate the menus on our TV. There's also plenty of third-party applications included on the CD-ROM. Our only serious gripe with the T625C is the absence of Mac support -- third-party programs for the Mac are available at an extra cost.
At £329 (inc. VAT), the T625C is priced just right to compete with other colour Palm OS devices. In fact, its stiffest competition may come from other CLIE models, such as the MP3-playing PEG-N770C. The T625C even stacks up well against Pocket PCs, thanks to its slim design and comparatively long battery life, although Pocket PC devices have many more high-powered features, including MP3 playback. So long as you're not a Mac user and can live without a scroll button, the T625C is a very good choice.