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Sony PEG-S360 Review
By Ed Hardy
The S360 is Sony's new low-end model with a monochrome screen and a Memory Stick slot.
It is light and fits well in the hand or pocket. It isn't super-slim but it's still pretty small. It only weighs 4.3 ounces. For comparison, the T615C weighs 4.9 ounces.
Its casing is silvery plastic. Across the bottom of the front are the standard buttons, also in sliver plastic, set in a chrome square. The Scroll Up and Down buttons are combined into a rocker switch shaped like an hourglass.
It has the Sony logo above the screen and the word Clié just above the buttons but you have to read the fine print on the back to see that it is a PEG-S360. The S320 was the same way. Considering the two use the same casing, I'm assuming this let them switch models with the minimum of hassle.
On the left side, right at the top, is a Jog Dial. It doesn't have the Back button from the N or T series.
The right side is taken up by the Stylus channel, which is almost completely inside the handheld.
On the bottom is the HotSync port, which is exposed the same way all serial ports are exposed these days. I think the days of the HotSync port having a cover are behind us now. But everyone does this now so it must not cause any problems. On either side of the port are slots that clip-on peripherals can use to hold themselves on with. There is a third slot near the middle of the back.
The stylus is the regular sized one, not the tiny one Sony started using with the T series. It has a metal shaft and plastic top and tip. Under the top is a reset pin. Nice to see Sony didn't skimp on the stylus to save money.
There is a small icon in the silkscreened area that, when pushed, allows you to adjust the contrast. Even adjusted for max viewability, I find myself turning the backlight on to see the screen in everywhere but a very bright room.
Thank goodness it doesn't have the reversing backlight that some companies are still using. Its backlight works fine, though the S360 doesn't have the built-in function the T series does that remembers what state the backlight was in when the handheld was turned off. You can always install GlowHack or any of its clones if you want this function.
It's reasonably viewable from the side. You could probably use the S360 with another person if you were willing to stand really close.
The plastic over the screen has a texture I don't quite like but I just did what I usually do: put a piece of Scotch tape over the Graffiti area and didn't worry about it any more. Other than that writing on the screen was fine. I didn't have to push unusually hard to write or anything like that.
I ran Benchmark 2.0 on it and and the S360 got a score of 210%. That's almost the same as the N610C and significantly higher than the m515's 156%.
The Jog Dial
I congratulate Sony for their inclusion of it on all their handhelds, even this low-end one. I have a few suggestions for improvements, though. When using the S360, I really missed the Back button from the Sony N and T series. This greatly improves the use of the Jog Dial.
I would suggest they add some functions to the Jog Dial itself, many of which are borrowed from the Back Button on other models. It would be great if you could turn the handheld on by just holding down the Jog Dial. Also, there are lots of applications where holding down the Jog Dial doesn't do anything. I'd like to suggest that holding it down select the Categories drop-down box and/or give access to the menus.
One of the best uses is to do backups. The S360 doesn't come with the backup app that Sony includes with its other models but you can get BackupBuddyVFS:Free for, well, free. This allows you to make a copy of the contents of RAM on the Memory Stick. If you have to do a hard reset, you can restore your S360 to its previous state without having to be anywhere near your PC.
While the S360 has a Memory Stick slot, it doesn't come with an actual Memory Stick.
Sadly, it can't use the Memory Stick camera. I think this is because the camera software requires a high-resolution screen.
The Flip Cover
This is the same flip cover as the S320. It starts on the back and folds around the top and then goes down the front. It is held on with a pair of L-shaped clips that snap onto the top then reach down the back.
This arrangement means the flip cover serves to protect the Memory Stick slot, which doesn't have its own door. It also means the flip cover has to be swung around to the back to reach the power button, remove the stylus, or use the IR port. I don't think this is a flaw, it just takes some getting used to. It is nice that the cover helps protect the power button from being pushed accidentally and even prevents the stylus from coming out unexpectedly.
The front of the cover is hard enough to provide some protection for the screen but you will want to get a hardcase if you plan to carry it around in a rough environment, like a backpack.
When it has been flipped around to the back, it sticks out below the bottom of the device about a half inch or so.
Despite the fact that the USB port is capable of providing some power to charge the S360's battery while the cable is plugged in, the USB cable provided doesn't do this. This means you can't charge and HotSync the S360 at the same time.
It comes with a separate power cable that is the exact same as the ones that comes with the N760C. I think this is the best power cable available because it can also be used as a travel charger. The prongs on the wall plug even fold down to save space.
Using OS 4 means it it uses Palm's method from running apps on expansion cards. When a Memory Stick is plugged in, its contents appear in a new category in the default Launcher. Tapping on an app on this list copies it to RAM and then runs it from there. When the app is exited, it is removed from RAM.
It also can run Palm Web Clipping apps right out of the box. I put the Palm Infocenter PQA on the S360 and made an Internet connection with my modem. It worked like a charm.
Of course, it also has the Attention Manager, which lists past alarms that have gone off but have not yet been acknowledged. As a person who sets a lot of alarms, I like this.
It has a copy of MS Gate, which is close in function to McFile and allows the user to view the complete contents of RAM and the Memory Stick and move files around. It also has MSAutorun that will run a specified application when a Memory Stick is inserted.
It comes with gMovie and PG Pocket. Frankly, I don't see a lot of use for either of these on this handheld. The S360's screen, while adequate for normal PDA use, isn't something I'd choose to watch multimedia on or even look at my vacation pictures. If that's what you want to do, you need to think about a T615C or m515.
They have modified the Address Book app so that listings can include people's pictures. This is a nice touch, though it takes up too much screen space when editing the address. Again, the screen on the S360 isn't really suited for this, though.
Unlike the S320, it comes with Documents To Go Standard Edition, which allows users to transfer Microsoft Word and Excel files onto their handheld. The files can be edited and synchronized back, which will update the original.
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