Inspector Gadget and the Sony Clié PEG-NX70V
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Clie Viewer: An app for displaying photos and playing sounds.
Flash Player: Indeed, a Flash Player for the Palm OS. Capable of playing any Flash files built for Flash Player 5.
Movie Play: Plays movies in full-screen, half screen, portrait, or landscape.
Movie Rec: Same as the camera app, but for movies with sound. Image quality is decent (I'll go into detail when I talk about the camera below), and they play smoothly with clear sound quality on the Clié. Two-minute movies with sound only take up about 16 kilobytes. Unfortunately, they're stored in .mai format, and I couldn't figure out how translate them into QuickTime--otherwise, I'd share a few with you.
Photo Editor: This app won't spell the end of Adobe Photoshop, but it does pack a few useful tools for adjusting the brightness and contrast; painting; erasing; and adding pieces of clip art such as knives and forks, smileys, and birds.
PhotoStand: This app plays slideshows of your pictures, using transitions and music.
Voice Rec: Very similar to Movie Rec, this app takes the audio without the movies.
Clie Files: A file browser for copying, moving, or deleting any file on the Clié or Memory Stick.
MS Backup: A utility for backing up all data from the Clié to a Memory Stick (it won't back up selected files).
MS Import: This simple, miraculous utility lets you mount a Memory Stick on the desktop (even a Mac desktop) when the Clié's in the cradle. From there, you can use the Memory Stick as you would any disk, to store whatever you want.
|Stay Connected. When you see this message on your Clié, you'll also see your Clié's Memory Stick on your Mac or PC.|
Sound Utl: This app plays a variety of stereo sound files, such as chirping birds, ringing telephones, etc., which you can use as alert sounds in Date Book and World Alarm Clock.
The Clié Camera app is slick-looking and easy to use, and it has a few useful features. (Unfortunately, my screen-shot application doesn't work with the Clie Camera app for some reason, so I can't show you the interface--but I'll show you some photos.) It's got a 1x digital zoom, you can adjust the brightness and white balance, and you can apply a few effects, such as sepia tone, posterization, and negative.
The camera doesn't provide the best image quality, but it's a big improvement over a few PDA cameras I've seen. Colors and details are "in the ballpark," but subtle artifacts appear where there should be clean lines, noise peppers the photos during low-light conditions, objects over four feet away lose considerable detail, and overall, images are a bit blurry. Finally, while the Outdoor white balance tended to saturate images with way too much red, the Indoor setting left images a bit too blue.
|On top is a photo taken with the default settings (Indoor A), and on the bottom, an image taken with the Outdoor settings. The image on the bottom has a bit more richness, but overall, the image has a lot more red than there is in real life.|
That said, many of these defects are hardly noticeable if you're shrinking the image and displaying them on the Web. Not being a professional photographer, I'd describe the image quality as "serviceable," but I'll let you be the judge: my girlfriend and I took the Clié along for a short road trip, and we took a few pictures.
The Clié Meets the Mac (Momentary Digression from Photos)
I use both PCs and Macs at home, but most of my data, including my Palm-related files and applications, are on my Mac. The Clié is a Windows-only device, but rather than test it out with the PC, I thought I'd use it with my Mac, via the Missing Sync, a $40 piece of software from Mark/Space (www.markspace.com) that lets Cliés converse with Macs. When I first installed the software, restarted, and hit the Sync button, I got the message "Preparing to Sync..." and it hung there for a good long time until I cancelled. I pressed the Sync button immediately afterward, and it worked like a charm.
After I was syncing away smoothly, I soon learned that the Missing Sync provides even more thorough support than the basics. If you tap on the app called MS Import, the Memory Stick will mount right on the Mac desktop. You can then use this just as you would any disk, to store any kind of files you want. So you can just drag your photos onto your Mac, or drag MP3s to the Clié. But it gets better.
To Import Photos Using iPhoto, mount the Memory Stick on the desktop with MS Import. Then open iPhoto, which will immediately recognize the Clié, and then click Import. To export photos from iPhoto to view on your Clié, it's a bit more complicated: Choose Export from the file menu, hit the Missing Sync Tab, hit Export, and choose the 101MSDF folder on the Memory Stick (it took a little trial and error to learn that this was the best place to put photos from the desktop).
When I first tried out the Clié's MP3-playing capabilities, I moved a few MP3 files to the Memory Stick directly, storing them in Palm/Programs/MSAudio. I tapped on the Audio Player, and the app immediately cued up the first track I had copied. I plugged in the included stereo headphones, hit Play, and my hair practically stood up on my head, the sound was so good. I was impressed at how easy this was, but if you use iTunes, it's even easier: mount the Memory Stick using MS Import. Then open up iTunes, and the Clié will be listed as a Source, just like an iPod. Then you can copy via drag and drop, or Import.
How much fun can one gadget contain? Plenty. The Clié has it all, and then some. However, it sure is big, and heavy. I like to keep my Palm m500 in the front pocket of my jeans or the breast pocket of my jacket, pretty much all day, and I couldn't do that with the Clié. But I think it would make quite an entertaining travel companion, especially if I were leaving my laptop at home.
David Weiss is an Oakland, California based freelance writer. He's worked as a senior editor at Macworld magazine, and as the lead editor of MacHome Journal. Read more about David at www.davidweiss.net.
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