Don’t Buy a Cheap CLIE NX80V From Japan

I’m begging you. Just don’t. You’ll fall in love with it, and then fall into a deep sadness when the camera breaks the next day. It happened to me.

The SONY CLIE NX80V was an upgraded version of their NX73V. It’s main claim to fame over it’s twin was it’s 1.3MP CCD camera, which ended up being a significant upgrade over the 0.3MP CMOS sensors SONY previously used. It also sported an extra 5MB of user RAM, allowing the use of a whopping 16MB of RAM for storage. The camera, however, would become a sticking point, as SONY used an inferior process for many of their CCD sensors around that time period, causing very high rates of failure. However, I’ll try not to focus on that too much in this article.

A Monster Media Machine

The CLIE NR, NX, and NZ series were touted as the “high-end” line of SONY’s handheld PDAs, being equipped with high-end Intel XScale processors and every whizbang feature you could imagine. These devices featured Yamaha sound chips, rotating 320×480 displays, and keyboards. Most also had built-in cameras and CompactFlash ports. In the NX80V’s case, it features a pop-out CF slot, a neat space-saving feature.

NX80V Specs

The NX80V, like most NX Clies, runs on an Intel PXA250. Nothing really interesting about it. The screen, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast. A 320×480 TN rotating panel with buttons built-in, and Power and Record LEDs on the side. It’s slightly dimmer than my TH55, but that might just be the specific panel.

Styling Notes

The design of the NX80V and it’s twin the NX73V is similar to the NX70V, but the screen appears to have a convex-like crease on both sides of it, with the keyboard side being concave to match. The camera assembly takes up a majority of the hinge, seemingly to hold the larger CCD sensor. The keyboard buttons are a seperate piece frpom the body, instead of being integrated as a membrane within the body, like the NX70V.

Software Bundle

The NX80V in my possession is a Japanese model, which gives it a slightly different set of tools and applications. Using the power of Google Translate, I’ll give a general description of the non-PIM apps.

CLIE Style

This “app” is just a form with a shortcut to the Japanese Sony CLIE website. Nothing more, nothing less. This takes us to…

NetFront 3.0

This older version of the NetFront browser doesn’t seem to have too many differences from NetFront 3.1, besides menus, one less zoom option, and some slightly different icons. It appears that it was meant to be used with a CompactFlash WiFi card, the PEGA-WL1x0 series.

NetFront 3.0! Notice the Zoom icon.

CLIE Demo

Like the TH55’s CLIE Demo, this one runs using Flash Player. Nothing really special here, just a list of features, and a confirmation that the NX80V does indeed have 32MB of memory (with 16 usable)

CLIE RMC

It’s just your standard remote control app. The only notable difference here is the lack of arrow keys, and numbers 10-12 instead of 0 and Enter.

NX70v on the left, NX80v on the right.

PooK v2

From what I can tell, it looks like an ebook reader. Once again, nothing really special here, but I can’t really understand much either.

It looks like an ebook reader with DRM.

Dictionary (translated)

This is a built-in Japanese / English dictionary! How cool is that?

CF Utility

It doesn’t do much without a CompactFlash card inserted, but it appears to have links to the CLIE Mail and NetFront 3.0 apps on the bottom.

The CF Utility

ATOK Setting (translated)

I have no idea what this app does. From what I can gather, it has to do with Japanese input?

The checkboc appears to say “Use ATOK for Japanese input”

The Camera

The NX80V touted a whopping 1.3MP CCD camera, which was unfortunately prone to damage from humidity. Mine ended up dying a slow death a mere day after being exposed to the Florida weather, but I did have the time to take comparison shots!

Camera Comparison

The NX70V takes okay pictures for the time, but the NX80V has a big advantage in detail here, despite being a bit underexposed. The later TH55 has much better low-light performance in this scenario, and still retains a good bit of detail.

Is Your Camera Failing?

Many NX80V and NZ90 PDAs have faulty CCD sensors caused by Sony’s use of an inferior epoxy that absorbs moisture. If your camera exhibits these patterns, or doesn’t display a picture at all, it’s likely you have a failed CCD.

Productivity

The NX80V includes your standard set of SONY-enhanced PIMs, so I won’t be going over those. The built-in keyboard is backlit and has the option of typing in English or Romanji > Kanji translation (Is this what ATOK is for?). It feels pretty good to the fingertips, but it doesn’t quite have the sharpness of the NX70V’s keyboard. Serious typists should just use a laptop instead, but either CLIE keyboard would work in a pinch.

Documents to Go

Yes, Documents to Go works fine here. For writing lengthy Word documents, I’d prefer using a laptop, but the NX80V has a good enough keyboard to work in a pinch. Spreasdheets and presentations work just fine, as one would expect. The extra screen space comes in handy, expecially when making long, complex spreadsheets.

Final Thoughts

The NX80V is one of the better CLIE handhelds you can buy… if you can find one. With a myriad of features and cool extras, you won’t be disappointed by anything it has to offer, perhaps besides the camera. For a safer bet on the camera, buy an NX73V!

Despite the camera issues I encountered, and my lack of understanding of the Japanese language, this PDA deserves the Yutaka Channel Seal of Approval!