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Sony PEG-T615C Final Review
By Ed Hardy
This is the second part of my review of the Sony PEG-T615C. When I wrote the preliminary one, I'd only had the T615C for about a day and I didn't want to draw too many conclusions after that short a time. Now I've had it for long enough that I think I can speak with some authority.
I was able to do a side-by-side comparison with a N760C at a local CompUSA. I found the two screens to be quite comparable. They weren't the same, but it was like when you put two color TVs made by two different companies next to each other. Both look equally good but the colors aren't quite the same. In short, if you are happy with a N760C screen, you'll probably be happy with the T615C's.
I also did a comparison with a m505. Of course, with a 320 by 320 screen the T615C's image was much sharper. However, the m505 handled colors better. When comparing the same exact same image on the m505, the T615C, and a PC monitor, the colors on the m505 were richer and much closer to the ones on the monitor. The T615C looked a bit washed out.
I played a lot of games of Atom Smash 2.0 checking to be sure things didn't get blurry when images are moving but I didn't see any signs of this. Everything stayed nice and crisp.
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.
The screen is slightly smaller than a typical Palm powered handheld's screen. It is 1.95 by 1.94 inches, while the Palm m505's is 2.12 by 2.12. Not a big deal but I thought it should be pointed out.
Also, there is no illumination under the Graffiti area. This is too bad as it would make writing in the dark a whole lot easier.
Before I say anything else, I want to point out that this is a fairly unrealistic test. The typical use for a handheld is to have it on only for short periods of time. Handheld batteries have been designed to work best this way, not in one continuous run until drained. So don't think the numbers I'm about to give you are the total time a T615C will run under normal conditions.
I did a comparison with a T615C and a m505, using an app called AlwaysOn 1.2 to keep the two from ever shutting off. The T615C's backlight was on the whole time at max brightness and the m505's non-adjustable sidelight was on, too.
In this kind of torture test, neither handheld was expected to last long and neither did. However, the m505 slightly outlasted its opponent. After 3 hours, the T615C posted its first low battery message and shut itself down 20 minutes later. At 3 hours and 25 minutes the m505 started complaining of a low battery and at 3 hours 45 minutes it shut down.
Of course, turning the brightness down on the T615C will increase its battery life. This isn't an option with the m505, other than to just turn its sidelight off.
To be honest, this test is so unrealistic I'm not sure if I gathered any useful data. But I spent four hours getting it so I'm not just gong to pitch it out. Feel free to draw any conclusions you can from it.
A more realistic test covered recharge time. The m505 came out ahead in this test, too. I put them both in their cradles simultaneously. At 45 minutes, the m505 was at 80%. At 1 hour 15 minutes it was fully charged. At 1 hour, the T615C at 61%. At 1 hour 30 minutes, it was at at 80% and at 2 hours, the T615C was fully charged again.
I've thought this was a darn useful function since it first debuted on the T415. I almost always have my handheld on me so it saves me the hassle of hunting up the remote when I want to change the channel.
Programming it is quite easy. You just need to specify type of device and the manufacturer and you are good to go. It can control TVs, VCRs, DVDs, and AV-AMP. This works pretty well. I've been able to control everything I've tried to, with the irritating exception of my VCR. Still, it's worked fine with lots of other TVs and stuff I've tried.
I've 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.
You can also set it to do things with the Jog Dial and hardware buttons, like change channels or mute the TV. This makes channel surfing a breeze.
It's got a good range. With my TV it gets just short of 25 feet, though Sony rates it at just 15 feet.
The T615C comes with an app called, uncreatively enough, Sound Utility 1.0. Together with a conduit on the PC, it lets you import and play files from WAV and MIDI format. These sound pretty good. Well, to be honest, I'm not fond of MIDI music but the WAV files are fine.
This is ItsTime, a sound that comes with the T615C. I played it on the handheld and recorded it with my computer so this is mighty close to what it sounds like in real life. The speaker isn't quite up reproducing the human voice perfectly. Whenever I play that sound for people, almost everyone asks, "What did she say?"
The small rocker switch that takes the place of the Up/Down buttons is equally hard to use. It's just too small and too close to the buttons on either side. Sony can't stop using these too soon for me.
I like the styling of the the T series better than that of any other Sony model, though beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Take a look at the pictures and judge for yourself; I'm no art critic.
My only complaint with the casing is kind of nit-picky. It has a metal loop just above the Jog Dial. This lets you clip it to a neck strap or maybe secure it to your desk. This isn't a bad idea but it sticks out kind of far, like maybe an eighth of an inch.
I've heard some complaints from people that they have seen T615Cs who's front panel is a bit bent up at the bottom. The one I've got doesn't suffer from this so I can't really comment other than to say the front panel is very thin so I could see this being a possibility. I tried to bend mine, though not very hard, and wasn't able to.
The T615C's Memory Stick slot is on the top, along with the infrared port and the opening for the stylus slot.
If you end up getting a T615C, I recommend buying yourself a stylus/pen combination the size of a regular pen like the ones from Pentopia or ttools. It won't be quite as convenient to carry around but you'll always have a pen with you and you won't be forced to use something the size of a coffee stirrer.
If you like to use your handheld one handed all the time, the T615C has some great features to help. Say you are in the Address Book. Hold down the Back button for a second. The Category drop-down box will be highlighted and you can use the Jog Dial to scroll through it. Hold it down longer and the first Menu will drop down so you can scroll through it. You can even add additional functions to the menu, like Power Off or Find.
And it is really great if you read a lot of eBooks on your handheld. Scrolling down a long document is so easy.
The flip cover is about the best I can remember from any Sony model, with one exception. Sadly, it doesn't cover the stylus slot, which does need the protection. I've been worried since I got the T615C that I would lose the stylus as turning the handheld upside down and shaking it will frequently cause the stylus to fall out.
The T-series cradle is a bit more complicated than I'm used to from Clié models. It is made up of the cradle itself with a USB plug for data. For power, a small plug goes from the cradle to a sizable power transformer and then to a wire with a plug on it. Unlike most other Sony handhelds, the power cable can't also plug into the handheld to be used as a travel charger.
I compiled a list earlier this week with all the information I could find on upcoming peripherals and accessories for the T series.
An application that takes advantage of the improved speaker is the World Alarm Clock. It lets you set up to five different alarms and, unlike the built-in Date Book, assign a different sound to each one. This is a feature I've wanted for a long time.
Sony has taken a page from Palm's book and bundled DataViz's Documents to Go Standard Edition with the T615C. This means that you can transfer Word and Excel files onto the handheld, edit them there, and then transfer them back.
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