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September 10, 2003

Sony UX-50 Keyboard Not So Hot?

sony_ux50.jpgWell, we heard that several lucky few who have gotten to fondle the forthcoming Sony Clie UX-50 (pictured) have found the keyboard to be rather pathetic.

While some liked it, a major complaint so far seems to be that the keys offer zero tactile feedback and are hard to distinguish from the surrounding metal without looking. This very concern has existed since the first time the photos of the UX-50 and UX-40 were released back in July.

The Sony Clie UX-50 is a clamshell form-factor Palm OS handheld featuring Wi-Fi 802.11b and Bluetooth built right in. Combined with a big 480x320 screen, loads of RAM, and the standard built-in digital camera, these devices looked promising. However, a few limitations have popped up. The keyboard is one, and the fact that the device can't be used in portrait mode (even when folded back on itself) seems pretty silly.

The lousy keyboards on Clies has been a pet peeve of mine since they first came out, and it's disheartening to see that Sony hasn't figured this out yet. I hope Clies get better keyboards pretty soon or the whole product line may be at risk.

Posted by Craig | Permalink

Isn't there any Palm application that can allow for the portrait/landscape mode switch? Even if it's a manual switch. I thought I had seen one, may not be as elegant as the little thing sensing the change of the screen, but may be a solution.


Posted by eduo at September 11, 2003 01:40 PM

I'm writing this comment on one of the new sony PDAs and having no trouble with the typing- the keyboard isnt desgined to be used for writing papers, but to enter little data (phone numbers and addresses). As keyboards go this is the best PDA keyboard to date!

Posted by Pete at September 11, 2003 03:18 PM

Its not too bad... i just got one for my brother and i m about to purchase one for my slef... it reminds me the cell phone i have... and i have no problem punching in numbers with out lookin @ the keys when i drive...

Posted by BattleAngel444 at September 11, 2003 04:57 PM

Not only is the keyboard pathetic, but the small screen really put me off. What was Sony thinking. The landscape implementation may seem like a good idea but it also makes holding this device very difficult and awkward.
I'm sticking with my NX-80.

Posted by AtomicChicken at September 12, 2003 08:33 AM

My perspective:
This is possibly the best PDA ever produced.

The keyboard is fine, but flush with the surface. Yet, you can distinguish the keys as your thumbs or fingers go across. With my treo, having all raised keys didn't necessarily help either.

The screen is incredible. Yes its smaller, but that helps the overall dimensions.

Having Bluetooth and WiFi, I can always connect to pop an email or briefly surf. NetFront is an amazing browser. Hands down the best PDA browser ever! It renders pages very well, and supports css, javascript well too.

It took a few days to get used to it, but the UX-50 is incredible.

Posted by BruceK at September 12, 2003 10:25 AM

I purchased my UX50 yesterday. I put it on eBay. I will stick with my T2 till the T3 arrives
Jax, FL

Posted by Greg Gebhardt at September 12, 2003 10:46 AM

BruceK, I gotta believe you're rationalizing a bit here. I love my old Sony Clié N610C but it certainly has lots of flaws. Don't tell me there are no fflaws whatsoever with the UX50. I don't think that's possible. :-)

Posted by Mike Rohde at September 12, 2003 10:49 AM


Who better than me to review this little gem...

It has it's drawbacks, I'm finding, and I'm not happy about it.

1. Wi-fi:

Should be called "if yer in the same room it works flawlessly." However, I don't have anything even close to the distance I get with my laptop. Very disappointing.

2. Bluetooth:

Works flawlessly. Very impressed. I did most of my data transfer this way. Slick.

3. Applications:

This is my own fault and I'll have this one resolved tomorrow. Coming off of an OS 4.1 unit, most of my apps haven't been OS5-anized.

4. Weight:

Stellar. Period.

5. NetFront Browser:

Is able to GET to Microsoft Exchange Server but can't read email as it can't invoke another window. Useless.

6. Keyboard:

It's good. Don't let them fool ya. Works like a charm.

7. Clie Mail:

Easy to set up. Flawless.

Overall, right may be going back.

Posted by SMEGGIE at September 14, 2003 04:12 AM

This is my favorite PDA of all time, bar none. Anyone who doesn't like the keyboard hasn't spent enough time with a crackberry or a Treo180/270/300. It's much better than those IMO.

And to the guy above re:netfront. If it tries to open a new window, you're right, it does not. However, the content from the new window ultimately loads to the current window. Give it some time to load and see if that works.


Posted by AM at September 14, 2003 07:48 PM

I have a problem to connect the PDA sony ux-50 with internet trought my PC (Cradle/Cable)
First i dont know if its possible do that.

With wireless i dont have problems still.
someone have answer?

Posted by Nevith at October 8, 2003 05:02 PM

Got a UX 50 for Christmas. My first PDA. Remarkable piece of engineering. Have a WiFi access point at home but haven't been able to connect. My wireless network (D-Link via Comcast) has no name (don't know why - I'm not the one who installed it), it just says "default" in the SSID space. So I entered default into the ux 50's SSID space, but no luck. Should I just leave it blank?

Second question: not thrilled with the ux's keyboard. Spoiled by the real thing. Looking for wireless (folding a plus) keyboard for the ux. Anyone know anything?

Thanks for any help ...Fred

Posted by Fred at December 31, 2003 01:09 PM

I'd be on the horn to Comcast in a heartbeat if they didn't give you instructions on how to get new devices to hook up to your wireless network. They may have turned MAC authentication or WEP on, and in that case, you'd need the right settings duplicated on the Clie and/or register the MAC with the wireless router. Again, call Comcast -- they owe you the answers.

Posted by Craig at December 31, 2003 03:50 PM
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