MobileInfocenter
Sony PEG-T615C Preliminary Review
By Ed Hardy
1/20/2002


Introduction
The PEG-T615C, to give its full name, is Sony's new high-end color handheld. It has all the hallmarks of a good Sony device, including a hi-res color screen, a Jog Dial, a Memory Stick slot, and 16 MB of RAM.

I've only had the T615C since the middle of the day on Saturday so I haven't had a chance to fully test it out. This is mostly my first impressions, with a longer review to come later this week. I have to do it quickly because Sony wants their handheld back by the weekend.

Hi-Res Screen
I'm fairly certain the main reason you are reading this review is to find out what the screen is like because there have been numerous complaints coming out of Asia about the screen on the T600C, the Japanese version of this same handheld. I won't keep you waiting any more and cover it first.

I can confirm that the T615C's screen is a bit weak at displaying strong colors, reds especially. Its absolute brightest red is brownish. This is especially clear in Clié Paint, where you can draw big boxes or circles in the primary colors, letting you see that green also isn't terribly vibrant.

I loaded several pictures with lots of red in them into PG Pocket and looked hard at them. While I'm not thrilled, in my opinion this isn't a fatal flaw. I wish the colors were stronger but my vacation photos still look pretty good.

For those of you who want to use it as an ebook reader, its whites are very white. Black-on-white contrast is excellent. Like all hi-res Sony models, the screen is incredibly crisp and sharp. The 320 by 320 screen actually looks crisper than my monitor does.

It's also quite bright. It certainly does not suffer from the T415's dim screen. Even with its backlight dimmed down as much as it will go, it is still brighter than some of its competition. However, you'll still need to have the backlight on much of the time you are indoors, unless you are in a quite brightly-lit room.

Outdoors, the backlight becomes unnecessary. The T615C looks great in direct sunlight and much of the time I'm outdoors I can't tell if the backlight is on or off.

Casing
The T615C looks much like the T415, except that it's a bit thicker, at 4.65 by 2.83 by .50 inches by Sony's measurements. It looks pretty much like a T415 that ate too much over the holiday season.

I don't much like to comment on the appearance of handhelds because, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have the silver model, not the blue, and I'll just say I think it looks very professional and a bit more "slick" than the N610C, which it is replacing.

Buttons and Such
I have to say that the T615C's buttons are its weakest part. They are long and thin and are uncomfortable to push. The rocker switch that serves as the Up/Down buttons is too small to be easy to use. They look cool, though.

The Jog Dial also looks cool and is much, much easier to use. I think I'll spare you this time my usual spiel on how great I think jog wheels are but I promise you nothing has changed. The T615C's Jog Dial makes maneuvering through long pages easier and just navigating around in the Launcher is better. Sony included a Back button, which I think is indispensable with any jog wheel.

Innards
The T615C runs Palm OS 4.1 on a 33 MHz Dragonball chip. I'll try to get you some numbers on processor speed for the full review.

Memory and Storage
As I said earlier, the T615C has 16 MB of RAM. Since its introduction on the Visor Pro a few months ago, this is quickly becoming the standard. All I can say is, having all the room is great.

Of course, it also has a Memory Stick slot. No Memory Stick came with it but these are readily available in sizes from 8 MB to 128 MB. The official Sony price for the 128 MB one is $150 but you can find them cheaper than that.

This slot can also be used with Sony's Memory Stick digital camera, the PEGA-MSC1. Sony has promised to loan me one of these soon so I should be able to get out a review.

Speaker
The T615C has an enhanced speaker when compared to other Palm OS models. It can't play your favorite Creed song but it's good enough to make your alarms sound a lot better.

You can convert WAV and MIDI sounds on your PC and move them onto your T615C and use them as alarms. This means you can have your wife or girlfriend say, "It's time to wake up" rather than just have your handheld beep at you.

Just to make it clear, the T615C has no built-in ability to play MP3s. You can buy a attachment from Sony for about $130 that will let you, though.

Universal Remote
The T615C also has an enhanced infrared port that lets it control a TV, VCR and a couple of other kinds of home electronics from up to 15 feet away.

To program it, you just pick the name of the company who made the device you are trying to control and the type of device. You don't train it with your current remote. I've heard a couple of people say that this doesn't make it a "universal" remote. All I can say is I have a regular universal remote and it works pretty much the same way.

I've also heard a rumor that this only works with Sony electronics, which isn't at all true. It has profiles for 18 different companies, like GE, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, and Sharp.

Battery
The internal battery is a lithium-ion polymer rechargeable. I'm afraid that, at this point, I can't tell you anything useful about battery life. I just haven't had it long enough. This will be covered much better in the real review. I can say the battery life can't be too bad; I haven't had to recharge it yet.

Peripherals
The T615C uses the same really super-slim stylus as the T415. I have to admit, I haven't warmed to this thing yet. It is just so small. Sometimes I feel like I'm writing with a coffee stirrer.

The flip cover is the best one I can remember from any Sony model. It's leather and connects to the back and runs over the top. It looks good and works fine. I'm sure some of you will want to buy a hardcase for more protection but the T615C's flip cover will be fine for many.

The cradle is the same one from the T415, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I don't much like Sony's new cradle. It has a lot more wiring than their previous one and isn't as convenient. I guess I miss that previous Sony electric cables could double as a travel charger, which the one from the T series can't.

Conclusions
Like I said, I've only had the T615C for just over a day, which is too early to draw any real conclusions. Its definitely evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as it doesn't have any features that don't already appear in another Sony model. So far I think it's a good handheld, and a decent replacement for the N610C.

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good review

SaxonMan @ 1/20/2002 2:07:43 PM #
very good review ed

thanks
SaxonMan

error

banned @ 1/20/2002 2:12:36 PM #
you say you've only had the T415C since the middle of saturday, i think you mean teh T615C. Okay, time to finsh reading it now :)

RE: error
Admin @ 1/20/2002 2:16:15 PM #
thanks, I fixed the typo for Ed.

-Ryan

Thanks Ed

Doo @ 1/20/2002 2:19:53 PM #
Very nice first look review. I just had a quick question on the color screen. How does it compair with the 760s display?

Thanks Ed

You're Welcome
Ed @ 1/20/2002 2:23:49 PM #
Before I do the final review, I'm going to take the T615C to a store and compare it to as many handheld screens as I can. Just based on my memory, I think the T615C's screen is a bit brighter but the N760C's colors are richer. I'll have a better answer once I've had a chance to compare them side by side.

---
News Editor
A Picture Is Worth Maybe a Couple of Dozen Words
Ed @ 1/20/2002 3:17:24 PM #
I took this picture hoping to give you some idea of what the screen looks like:
www.palminfocenter.com/images/img_Sony_T615C_1_L.jpg

I think what you are mostly going to learn is how much I need a new digital camera. The blank part of the screen is certainly not that pale-green color; it's much more white.

I'm really including this because someone will surely ask for a picture of the screen. Well, this is the best I can do. Sorry.

---
News Editor

screen comparison
Haj @ 1/20/2002 5:07:17 PM #
Until Ed gets a chance, you can take a look at this review: http://www.spug.org/reviews/rt600.htm

Screen Comparison
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 7:47:29 PM #
How does the T615C compare to the Palm IIIc? I have noticed that the other color Clie screens are not as bright as the Palm IIIc. While the resolution of the Clies is better than the Palm IIIc, I find that brightness is more important to middle aged eyes than the resolution.

Thank-you.

screen comparison 2
Haj @ 1/20/2002 7:59:54 PM #
Ok, neither do i have T615 or IIIc, nor i know a link for comparison pics of those devices side by side so far, i can only give you some links that compares IIIc with other devices if that helps.

m505 and N710C
http://www.pencomputing.com/palm/stest/m500vsN710C.html

various devices (in japanese but you can see pics)
http://kamakura.cool.ne.jp/mobiletake/Visor/color.html

HTH

RE: Thanks Ed
robrecht @ 1/20/2002 10:11:14 PM #
The new SONY is supposed to be brighter than the "older" color SONYs, though it may not be as bright as the IIIc. One huge advantage over the IIIc, in addition to higher resolution, is that it is very visible outdoors.

Thanks, Robrecht

Hardcase available?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 2:49:09 PM #
Ive come across a company that makes hardcases for the N series but i forgot the site address. im hoping they mind make one for T series.

BTW, does it have difficulty beaming from a palm handheld? coz ive had some difficulty beaming things from m505 to prism

RE: Hardcase available?
rspitz @ 1/20/2002 4:58:13 PM #
The one I think you are talking about is at:

http://www.dsi-usa.com/pda/pdacase.htm

IS the body metal?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 2:52:12 PM #
which parts are metal and which part are plastic?

graph

RE: IS the body metal?
Ed @ 1/20/2002 2:58:48 PM #
Just about the entire casing is aluminum. I know it can be tough to tell the difference sometimes but it's in the press release and I was told by a Sony spokesperson that the casing is all aluminum.

---
News Editor

sync connection

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 3:20:23 PM #
Very nice start of a review. Could you tell if any of the sync port connection on the T615C is the same one on the other Clie's. I am looking for a keyboard and moden for the T615C I am to get next Monday.

RE: sync connection
Ed @ 1/20/2002 3:23:31 PM #
Sony put a new HotSync port on the T415 and is using it again on the T615C. This means that keyboards and such designed for other Clié models can't be used by the T series.

I'm putting together an article with everything I can find on when various companies will release peripherals and accessories for the T series. Hopefully it will be out tomorrow, Tuesday at the latest.

---
News Editor

15 Feet?

NoBrain123 @ 1/20/2002 3:48:32 PM #
Is that really a stronger IR? I have an m505 and using both Omniremote and Palm Remote I average a distance of 30 feet to operate my television. It is a Mitsubishi.

I think that is misleading by Sony to say it is enhanced if it doesn't even beat out a normal one.

RE: 15 Feet?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 4:16:38 PM #
Your getting some kick-ass distance out of your M505. I tried to use some remote proggie on a M505 (don't remember which one) and got like 5 feet. My friends N760 got the same. If you got a T615, you might get as much as a half mile. ;)

RE: 15 Feet?
Altema @ 1/20/2002 7:33:16 PM #
Well, the IR is enhanced when you compare it to the earlier Clies, which had a pretty lame range of 8 feet. This meant that you had to get up out of your chair to use it for a remote anyways. The only other devices with shorter range than the new enhanced Sony are the original Palm III (10 ft), Palm VIIx (11 ft), and the Handspring Visor Edge (12 ft). Noteworthy are the Visor Prism and HandEra 330, with an IR range of 32 feet, which is slightly better than the OmniRemote SpringBoard module with 30 feet. Seeing how several PDA's beat Sony's "Enhanced IR" is just a reminder that the term is being used relative to their own devices. The title of most powerful IR belongs to the Palm M500 and M505, both having a range of 50 feet.

RE: 15 Feet?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 8:03:03 PM #
Could someone tell me how long is S360's IR range?

m505 Killer?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 3:40:48 PM #
There was a lot of discussion a while back regarding the pre-announcement by Palm of new devices which cannibalized existing Palm product demand. I think this is all BS and if Palm doesn't get a good m5xx to market very soon, this T615C will eat the m505 sales alive. The only thing that may hurt Sony is that you can't get the new Clie's at office supply stores - ie Staples, Office Depot, etc. If I was Sony, I would change that.

I have an m505 and, damn, it doesn't look so good anymore after seeing this puppy!

RE: m505 Killer?
Davy @ 1/20/2002 3:56:59 PM #
Meanwhile, many stores don't carry any Clies, and outside of the Palm news sites, nobody's heard of this Clie. It's great for the informed people like us, but Sony is still a big unkown to the general public with it's PDA's.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 4:09:14 PM #
The T615 is the N610 with a couple of extra bells, like the remote. The M505 did good against the N610 for 6 months, I don't see the T615 doing any better. I don't know why Palm way outsells Sony but it does. Sonys screens are tons better but Palm leads worldwide sales and Sony isn't in the top 5.

http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_Story.asp?ID=2530

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 4:58:24 PM #
Palm sells more units because of no-margin $89 m100's. Also, Sony Clie's are not sold everywhere. I would love to see some current sales data of Palm Color vs. Sony Color units. Most retail sales people push the Clie's on me when I hit the Circus City, Best Buy, CompUSA etc.

Why would anyone not want 320x320 with better sidelight for the same price?

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 7:21:43 PM #
"Why would anyone not want 320x320 with better sidelight for the same price?"

Probably because
- The form factor ain't the same
- Battery life ain't the same

If I were to buy a handheld right now (currently have the m505) I would probably wait. There isn't anything out right now (PPC, Linux or Palm) that really grabs (and holds) my affection.

I think it is a pitty that this unit doesn't have bluetooth.

RE: m505 Killer?
Penguin45 @ 1/20/2002 7:21:49 PM #
That's right, the Sonys are much harder to find than the Palms. I live in the Philippines and had to get mine and my girlfriend's Clies (760C and 610C) from the U.S. Even the authorized Sony dealers here don't carry them. If we do find them here, they're about double the price. The Palms on the other hand are readily available from dealers at competitive prices.

When my girlfriend's sister, who has an m505, saw the Clies, she immediately wanted to sell Palm and get a Clie. She never saw or heard of the Clie til she saw ours. Sony could do a better job getting the word out, IMHO.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 9:28:07 PM #
I have an m505 but i will pass on the great features hoping sony will hear complaints on the tiny buttons and bad up and down switch. im looking forward on the next models from sony.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/20/2002 11:43:35 PM #
If you had a jog dial, you'd realize the buttons and up and down switch are much less used. The jog dial is so great that once you use it you can never go back to a PDA without it. I've tried out the buttons on the T415 (same as T615 buttons) and it isn't as horrible as made out to be considering you hardly ever use them, especially the up down keys that I ONLY use in games with my 760C.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 8:52:37 AM #
I initially thought the scroll buttons on the 415/615 were terrible. Then I went back to my 505 buttons and saw that they arent that much better.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 9:04:02 AM #
You don't have a M505!!! You're a wierdo who'll say anything to defend SONY and attack Palm. Get a life.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 9:16:39 AM #
Yeah you're right. I don't have a 505, I have a PPC and I work for MS and I get paid by the post to denounce the PalmOS. Hey - I just earned another 10 cents!!!

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 9:54:07 AM #
The buttons on the 505 are WAY better than on the Sony. Also the jog dial is nice and I realize a lot of people like it but I don't. I prefer to use the buttons.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 10:37:53 AM #
You have neither Sony or M505!!! You're a wierdo who'll say anything to defend PALM INC and attack Sony. Get a life.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 10:43:55 AM #
now Ed, why would you leave this stupid comment up?

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 10:53:41 AM #
I'm reluctant to buy a Sony because of the memory stick. I don't like to buy products that I view as proprietary. Additionally I have a hard time finding accessories compatible with the Sony products.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/21/2002 11:39:23 AM #
Memory stick is now somewhat open. ACER is using it royalty-free on their new palm device.

RE: m505 Killer?
Vexel9 @ 1/21/2002 1:00:01 PM #
Penguin45 - Im in the Philippines as well and I bought n760's for myself and my girlfriend in singapore. I was in California a few weeks before that and i found that Singapore has a lot more stuff in terms of PDA's. I found stuff from the states and from japan readily available there. Not only were they readily available but they were slightly cheaper. I hope you got memory sticks while you were in the states cuz they are ridiculously expensive here. $250 for 128mb!!

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/22/2002 1:20:44 PM #
Memory Stick is becoming less and less proprietary. At the same time, SD looks more and more like a marketing tactic for Panasonic. Once Sony licenses MS to a few more companies, it'll be as ubiquitous as CF, and carry the same cost.

I really love the display of the 610/760. I also love the form factor of the m505. Having sacrificed a bit of display quality for form, and buying the m505, I have to say I'll refrain from purchasing a T615. After $500+ of investment in my Palm, I can't justify dropping that much more on the Sony. But with OS 5, I may have to defect.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/22/2002 4:01:44 PM #
> SD looks more and more like a marketing tactic for
> Panasonic.

That must explain why nearly all new handhelds (Palm, PocketPC, and various other Linux, etc. ones) have SD. Many new digital cameras including Kodak's are supporting SD as well.

In a pigs eye is Memory Stick is becoming less and less proprietary. In another year, SD will be as ubiquitous on mobile devices as PCMCIA on laptops.

RE: m505 Killer?
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/23/2002 6:39:31 AM #
Tested SD and MS sticks on USB adapters. SD is much more faster and costs cheaper.

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