You may not be able to buy the SL10 anymore, but some people may still want one. Why would anyone want one? I personally think they are still quite useful. The best way to start off this review would be with some helpful description information.
What is the Sl10? The SL10 is a Palm OS 4.1 PDA made by Sony. It has a 16 gray scale screen, and a resolution of 320x320. This is the High Resolution display. Most Palms, and HandSpring Devices at the time used a 160x160 "standard" resolution display. The PDA also features a 33MHZ Dragonball CPU and a Memory Stick slot, but more on those later.
The first thing that should be done in a review is the hardware description. I like to start at the top, and work my way around then the front and back last.
On the top, from left to right, we have the lanyard loop hole, IRDA (infrared port), Memory Stick Slot, power button, and finally the stylus silo. I don't have the lanyard or he original stylus. i got this unit used and not new.
Just two screws here...
Here is where we have some action! The first thing we see from left to right is the Sony Jog Dial. I will have a whole section on this soon. Then we have the back button which is part of the Jog Dial. Then we have a standard Mini USB B port.
On the bottom we have the all familiar sync port. This is used for keyboards like the KB11 that i am using to type this, and cradles. The SL10 doesn't come with a cradle so you have to use the little USB port on the side, but that's more of an advantage to me.
This is where the screen tends to sit and this unit is no different there. There is the traditional 4 buttons for applications and an up and down rocker switch in the middle. These buttons are from left to right: Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Memo. The is the Graffiti input area above that as well.
On the back though is where it gets a little interesting. You have the various holes for the flip cover and cradle, but there is also a battery door on the bottom. Yes this Palm has a removable battery, or rather batteries. It is powered by 2 standard AAA batteries. This is why I wanted it actually. These make it a great PDA for writing.
Now, lets get a little more in dept with the various features of the device, in no real order.
Lets do the screen first since it tends to be the most used part of the PDA. As stated earlier this is NOT a color screen, but a 16 gray scale. This means that instead of black or white, like the earlier PDAs, or even black white and light/dark gray like my Visor, but this is 16 different gray shades. The screen is back lit, and has that nice greenish glow that digital watches usually have. This is a bit different from the white back lights that the older iPods had, but its really usable.
Let me be blunt here and just say it. THEY SUCK! OK, well mainly the up and down buttons but still. They could be worse though. The T series was the worst thing I have ever used though.
They have the default settings of Calendar, Address Book, To Do, and Memo Pad. These can be set to anything that you choose as well.
The Clie line has always had possibly my favorite feature, the Jog Dial. This little handy thing is pretty much a scroll wheel on the side of the case. It can move freely in up or down directions, and be pressed in. Under the wheel is the back button. This can be used to go back one screen or held for a pop up menu or cursor.
There is one important function of this button as well. You can set it to be a power button. There is a setting for holding it to turn the Clie on, and one to turn it off as well.
How much memory does your current phone have? 8GB? 16GB? Or even 32GB? Well, the Clie has just 8MB. Yes, only 8 megabytes of memory. While this may not seem like much today, it wasn't that bad at the time the SL10 came out. In fact, Palm OS PDAs topped out at 16MB at the time. This was less then a Pocket PC had, however Palm used its memory more efficiently.
Now, the Clie doesn't top out at 8MB only. It has a Memory Stick slot. These little cards topped out at 128MB at the time. This is a lot different then today when we have 32GB SD cards.
These cards can store anything from this review file to programs. Programs are able to be run off the card. The catch is though, that the files get copied to the internal memory then deleted on exit. This means you still need free internal memory.
This memory is also erased if your batteries die. This is not like on modern ones that use Flash memory, that can retain data when the battery dies. This is good that it has options for backing up your data.
Most reviews tend to ignore this it seems. I personally think that for a PDA to be good it needs to have a good stylus. I have seen some that have a great stylus, then there are some like Sony that use this thin metal toothpick as I have always called them. I won't say that its a bad stylus, I just think they should have used a thicker one. I can use it but I tend to just use a pen with a stylus. This makes me seem a bit better with Graffiti but I have never fully tested it.
Enough about the hardware. I love the fact that Palm OS is always fast even on the oldest hardware. This isn't that old, but they didn't really start having speedy processors until OS5 while this runs on OS4. The unit has a 33MHZ CPU, which is more then enough for the older Palms although they did reach a top end of 66MHZ. I can type this review in CardText, but Documents to Go 4 seems to be laggy so I assume its just the keyboard drivers as I use a Sony KB11, which is the older model.
The software package is pretty basic really. It has the standard Palm OS Software package, and some other little Sony programs in RAM. Lets go over these little programs one at a time.
This is a file that just takes up space and gives you a little bit of information about the PDA itself. This is on that can be deleted as its in RAM instead of the ROM.
This fun little program is a drawing program which I can assume that you guessed because the name. Its a little useless on the gray scale screen but I still like having it for when I want to doodle a bit.
Why the hell this is on a gray scale PDA with no sound is beyond me. I guess it can be useful for a quick thing but i see it as one of the more useless programs on a gray scale PDA that doesn't even have sound.
This on is useful at least. It will let you make a backup of everything that is installed and can make up 5 backups. This is useful because its in ROM so if you loose all the data you can still restore the data.
This is the file browser. This program is okay but I use Filez. I like the option that its in ROM so I can still get the programs I need off the memory stick if I don't have a backup. Least Sony has a file browser since most Palms I have seen need you to install one.
Don't have a Memory Stick slot on your computer or a USB Card reader? Well that's what this is for. It lets you use the Clie as a reader but needs the driver installed on the computer. This is annoying since if you don't have your PC and need to get a file off the card your still screwed.
This is a more useless program for me. It lets you tell the Clie to run a program when you put in the Memory Stick. This is useful for if you have one with Ebooks or some file, that you can make it run the reader or program for those files when you plug in the card.
PG Pocket and Photostand
These two programs are for viewing pictures. One is a slide show and one is just to browse through and show pictures. These seem to be a stupid addition to a gray scale PDA but oh well. I guess someone may have a use for these.
Now here is a useful program for you. its a World clock that has alarms. The alarms suck on the Sl10 but the world clock can be useful if your traveling a lot.
Everything else is just your standard Palm OS programs. I am not sure what is on the included CD as I didn't get one with the PDA. I am sure that its just Demos and maybe a full version of Documents to Go, probably Version 5.