MobileInfocenter
Developer: The Price:
  • $200
The Pros:
  • Great Price
  • Maximum memory available
  • Memory Stick slot

The Cons:
  • Doesn't come with a cradle
  • Screen a bit dark

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*Maximum Rating is FIVE (5) InfoPalms



Sony PEG-S360 Review
By Ed Hardy
3/13/2002


Overview
The S360 is Sony's new low-end model with a monochrome screen and a Memory Stick slot.

Hardware
The S360 is the successor for the S320 but with more memory. Aside from that, there are few changes. It can still use all the same peripherals and accessories.

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.

On the top is the infrared port, the Memory Stick slot, the power switch and the opening of the stylus channel.

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.

The Screen
The S360 has a monochrome screen with the standard 160 by 160 resolution. The screen on the S360 is its weakest part. Its background is a fairly dark green so it doesn't have as much contrast as it really should have. it isn't unreadable; it just isn't as good as the screens on comparably-priced models.

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.

Motherboard
The S360 runs the 33 MHz Motorola Dragonball. It also has 16 MB of RAM and an upgradable ROM. This puts it on par with more expensive models like the Visor Pro.

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
There's no other way to say it, I love the Jog Dial and I'm happy to see that just about all the Palm OS licensees have gone to using them, with the notable exception of Palm itself. It saves a great deal of time by allowing many operations to be carried out one handed. This makes reading e-books much easier and long AvantGo pages, too. You can also use it to cycle through your applications and choose the one you want to open.

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.

Memory Stick
Expansion memory cards add a lot to a handheld and its great that companies are now including them on low-end devices. This lets you store a tremendous amount of data on your handheld. More and more apps have support for VFS cards so they are only becoming more useful.

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
The flip cover itself is a dark navy with Clié written on it in silver. It is made of some vinyl-like material and kind of reminds me of the seats on my Mom's old station wagon. There is nothing to hold it closed at the bottom but this allows it to be flipped around to the back one handed, Captan Kirk style. The inside of the cover has been shaped to keep it from accidentally pushing the buttons.

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.

Cables
One of the ways Sony saved money on the S360 is it doesn't come with a cradle. It has a USB cable instead. For me, this is a flaw. I like keeping my handheld in its cradle and plugging in a cable just isn't as convenient as dropping the handheld into a cradle.

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.

OS 4.0
The S360 comes pre-installed with Palm OS 4.0. This is the same OS version as on the S320. In what I believe is a cost-saving measure, Sony didn't update this to OS 4.1, which is the latest version. I'm not too concerned about this; the only difference between the two is some bug fixes for problems I don't think I've ever run into.

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.

Software
It comes with the same applications its predecessor did and one excellent addition. It doesn't have the enhanced infrared port or speaker of the T series so it doesn't need the apps that make use of those.

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.

Conclusion
With its combination of low price, expansion slot, fast processor, and memory size, the S360 is a very good low-end handheld. Aside from its screen, it is comparable with much more expensive models.

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You can't forget...

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 2:00:12 PM #
I think you forgot to mention some of the differences between the S360 and the older S320. The S360 has Docs to Go, and it also comes with the hot-sync cradle, unlike the S320. Maybe the review could be updated...

RE: You can't forget...
Ed @ 3/15/2002 2:04:51 PM #
You make a good point about Documents To Go Standard Edition and I've added it to the review.

Sadly, the S360 does not come with a cradle. I'm holding the box here in my lap and I assure you there is no cradle in it.

---
News Editor
RE: No Value there...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 2:10:15 PM #
S360 does have DocsToGo, but that don't mean much. Anyone can buy a copy off eBay for $3-5. There's pleny of folks willing to sell their registration code for that price.

RE: You can't forget...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 2:13:00 PM #
It would matter to those of us who don't care to steal from companies that put money and resources into developing software. Would you go into a store and shoplift? Using someone else's registration code is no different and to act as if there is nothing wrong with it is very sad, IMO.

RE: You can't forget...
big_raji @ 3/15/2002 2:44:57 PM #
I don't think there's anything wrong with selling your registration on eBay.

From what I remember, the registration is a two-step process, you submit your serial to Dataviz, and they issue a "response code" to unlock your handheld and Windows desktop. If the serial's been used before, you won't get a response code.

I could be talkin outta my ass though, I don't use docs to go anymore, but that's how I remember it.

---
If you sing in french while hopping on one foot, the evil birds won't come out of your bathroom mirror.

RE: You can't forget...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 3:05:49 PM #
Lack of cradle is NOT a con. YMMV.

RE: You can't forget...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 5:27:30 PM #
Oops, sorry about that cradle comment I made. I checked back at Sonystyle, and see that it comes with the "USB HotSync® cradle cable." I guess they like to keep the "cradle" part in their description to confuse the not-so-careful easy-to-pull-a-fast-one-on people like me :)

About the other comments, I agree with those who condone selling registration codes for Docs To Go... If you buy the rights to the code, you should be able to sell them too. I didn't think there was even a problem with this until reading the above post. Is there a lawyer in the house?

RE: You can't forget...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 8:17:23 PM #
Um... the S360 is RECHARGABLE. It HAS to come with a cradle.

RE: You can't forget...
Ed @ 3/15/2002 9:21:26 PM #
> Um... the S360 is RECHARGABLE. It HAS to come with a cradle.

Read the part of the review under the heading "Cables". In fact, you should probably read the entire review because I don't think you did before you posted this comment.

---
News Editor
RE: You can't forget...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 11:27:26 PM #
This person has never owned a Sony PDA other than the T-series (if at all). The Sony's AC Adapter CAN plug into the back of the cradle, or directly into the Sony.

RE: You can't forget...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/18/2002 11:49:55 AM #
<< Um... the S360 is RECHARGABLE. It HAS to come with a cradle. >>

More proof in the world that ignorance is NOT "bliss." However, it does appear that it IS rampant.

Question

PalmPowered @ 3/15/2002 2:54:51 PM #
Can somebody tell me why the Sony and Handspring models with 33 mhz dragonball chips always seem to benchmark faster than the Palm branded handhelds with the same chip? I must have missed this lesson when it floated by the last time. Also, Ed are you going to do a hands on review of the new m130 and m515? I know you did a comparison in the store but I wandered what your thoughts were on the new m130 and it's display.

-If you only knew the power of the Palm side-
RE: Question
TDS @ 3/15/2002 8:52:42 PM #
I really think that the RAM chips are either faster, or don't have the wait states of some of the other units. The Visor Deluxe had a 16 Mhz CPU it it was faster than any palm with the same CPU.
Unfortunatley, it looks like the Visor Pro and Neo do not have this feature, as they are as slow as the Palms at 33 Mhz...


RE: Question
Altema @ 3/15/2002 9:20:09 PM #
I think TDS is probably right, but I have suspicions about Benchmark 2.0 on the Palm branded devices under OS 4 and above. I ran tests which showed my old overclocked IIIe getting a higher score than the 505, but testing with actual software had the 505 completing tasks first. Had me scratching my head too...

RE: Question
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/16/2002 5:42:20 PM #
Yes, you have to take benchmarking stats with a grain of salt.

I run Quitbits and it certainly makes OS3.5.3 a lot snappier. But Benchmark 2.0 shows no speed difference at all.

Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 3:23:36 PM #
I was looking at this device b/c of the 16mb storage compared to 8mb devices in the price range. I found that everyone was clearing out the Handspring Edge for $30 less, only $175US. That's less than Handspring's website. I never considered it, but had to replace my stolen Visor Platinum. I wanted something lightweight and a great screen. This is one cool device. Very light and better looking than the SONY. In this price range there's not too much new but plenty of used. The m130 color screen was awful too in real life, indoors anyway. So don't foget the Edge!

Clearance on m505
big_raji @ 3/15/2002 4:06:54 PM #
Not sure how newsworthy this is, but Future Shop in Canada is clearing out m505's for $499.99CDN (about $300US)

http://www.futureshop.ca, it's on the front page today. Otherwise, just click on computers, then handhelds

---
If you sing in french while hopping on one foot, the evil birds won't come out of your bathroom mirror.

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 4:55:51 PM #
Visor Edge doesn't have 16mb memory and its springboard mem plug is too large and expensive , I think that's why they are on sale.

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 6:04:00 PM #
True, I don't use the Springboard attachment, so that is why I chose it. 16mb is great but I still fill only 3/4 of the unit's 8mb storage. I think it's still a nice device compared to this SONY. Plus I use a mac too which the SONY has issues in working 100% without proper third-party software.

Still I think we are all passed this generation of devices and palmos5 will help create new devices that are worthy of our time. Almost here anyway!

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
cyruski @ 3/16/2002 4:10:36 PM #
> The m130 color screen was awful too in real life, indoors anyway.

i don't think you made a bad choice buying an edge. but why do you need to justify your choice by running down the m130?

cyruski!

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/16/2002 10:11:31 PM #
Just use your damn crappy cheap atari-slot-handspring..
You don't have to keep bashing better pdas to justify your Edge, probably if you wait 6 more months you can buy it for $50 (clearance).

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2002 12:34:17 AM #
I'm not putting any m130 device down, it was just my opinion of the screen when I was shopping for a replacement. The SONY wasn't very impressive even with 16mb. It's the same device that it replaces. Just my 2 cents.

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2002 8:00:51 PM #
You can say the same for HandSpring's Visor Pro/Neo series as well...

As for Edge... Well, I'll toss it out in a heart beat for a T415... Which is what I'm getting... First of all, I seem to have a great tolerance for what other people consider as bad screen... I've been using Sony S300 for a while with that WriteRight (or whatever that's called) mono screen protector installed, and I still don't need to turn on the backlight most of the time (while in the review, the backlight was said to have been turned on almost everywhere)... The only down side for me with that T415 is the slower LCD reaction time, but I guess that what I'll have to live with when I want a high resolution PDA at a lower cost...

IMHO Visor Edge indeed have been named properly, if I remember correctly, there's a bit of sharp edge on the unit I've seen in stores. The Edge never seem to sell in great quantity, not even close to Palm's amazing sale of V/Vx series... Maybe they should have hired a good industiral design firm to design the unit for them...

RE: Check out the Handspring Edge with low price...
JET8810 @ 3/19/2002 7:28:12 PM #
What is going on with all this arguing? I have nearly stopped coming to PalmInfoCenter altogether because it has become a troll hangout. 9/10 posts are pointless arguments. To each his own. If somebody wants a Clie instead of a Visor, then let it be. There is no point in arguing as neihter unit is "better" they are just different. Stop the arguing of Palm Os devices vs. Palm os devices AND Palm os devices vs. Pocket Pcs. All I want is a peaceful environment so i wont be forced to leave this site once and for all.

What About 415T

dstrauss @ 3/15/2002 3:45:38 PM #
Other than a slight price break, what does the 360 offer over the 415T? Although not a great screen, the 415T is 320x320; 16mb ram; ultra-slim (smallest PDA out there); high power IR (video controller).

RE: What About 415T
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 4:02:31 PM #
"... although not a great screen ..."

Dstrauss, you are such a diplomat. I tried the T415, but got rid of it after 2 days. Take it from me, 320x320 does NOT make up for that screen.

RE: What About T415
Ed @ 3/15/2002 4:18:12 PM #
While you make some good points, you are off in one area. The T415 has 8 MB of RAM, not 16.

---
News Editor
RE: What About 415T
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 4:35:21 PM #
"Dstrauss, you are such a diplomat. I tried the T415, but got rid of it after 2 days. Take it from me, 320x320 does NOT make up for that screen."

If you have really tried T415 would you not notice that the Original poster said it had 16MB Ram ?? You didn't spot for the pretty obvious 16MB Ram error but you could see the "not a great screen" so called error

T415 sucks
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 5:47:40 PM #
Hmmm.. I also bought the T415 and retuurned it the next day, the screen sucks. The S360 is a better PDA.
So i decided to get the T615, and wow!, it's probably the best PDA I've had.


RE: What About 415T
Altema @ 3/15/2002 8:57:25 PM #
Although Sony lists the T415 as having "Enhanced" IR, that statement is only relative to other Sony products. There are many other Palm OS devices with more powerful IR than the T415.

RE: What About 415T
Altema @ 3/15/2002 9:02:32 PM #
"So i decided to get the T615, and wow!, it's probably the best PDA I've had."

You should read the T615 review by Julie the Gadgeteer. She loves it too, and is considering dumping the iPaq for the T615 as her favorite handheld.

RE: What About 415T
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 9:17:37 PM #
I got my 360 as a "reading machine," and though the screen is a bit dark, it's still very nice to read. I simply could not read the 415 in anything but bright light or dark. Also, the 415's screen paints very s l o w l y while the 360 is quite snappy.

Also I've decided NOT to use a screen protector in order to preseve the screen's clarity -- I've not yet noticed any scratches. For less than $200, I'll take the change that my screen prematurely degrades (if it does, I also have an extended warranty).

I've got a 65mb MS and already filled it up (a 128mb is on the agenda for next payday).

A new EB slipper case is on its way too!

This is a really NICE PDA, especially for the money.

Take Care All,

-Brette

RE: What About 415T
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/21/2002 9:24:19 AM #
I think Julie has already dumped the iPAQ :). Her main PDA is the T615 and the Toshiba e570.

Strange

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 3:58:31 PM #
Notice how there have not been any posts along the lines of "this unit sux because it doesn't have hi-res", blah, blah, blah. Seems like that criticism is reserved for Palm and Handspring models only.



RE: Strange
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 4:04:37 PM #
he he
You make a point there. Well, most of teh peoples were mainly complaining about the lack of hi-res on ANY Palm product, wether it's high-end or low-end.

RE: Strange
big_raji @ 3/15/2002 4:05:03 PM #
I think that Palm and Handspring are criticized because they don't have ANY units with hi-res.

The price on the S360 is equal to

---
If you sing in french while hopping on one foot, the evil birds won't come out of your bathroom mirror.

RE: Strange
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 5:03:18 PM #
When you have to pay $400 for a hanheld , you will want more. The target market is different, will you ask for 16mb memory and expansion storage for the Palm M100 ?

>
he he You make a point there. Well, most of teh peoples were mainly complaining about the lack of hi-res on ANY Palm product, wether it's high-end or low-end.
<

Because Palm always costs you more and give you less.

RE: Strange
Altema @ 3/15/2002 8:49:08 PM #
"I think that Palm and Handspring are criticized because they don't have ANY units with hi-res."

Right you are, but the minute they do, they will be criticized for not innovating ;)

Seems odd though, that this RAM upgrade will still be deemed as innovative...

RE: Strange
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/15/2002 10:28:11 PM #
Beacuse Sony gives you more to choose from. From Lo-Res to Hi-Res; from simple (S360) to wow (NR-series). Whereas Palm keeps you at where they can only cope with. Handspring is innovative - even from Day One with their Sprinboard concept.

RE: Strange
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/16/2002 12:30:15 AM #
Of course Palm will be blamed for not innovating. It would only take them ONE YEAR. Jeeze!

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