Review of the Sony Clie PEG SL-30

By: Keith Anderson, RN, NP, MS

Keith is a nurse practitioner at the Center for Joint Replacement at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. He earned his Master's Degree in nursing from Loma Linda University in 1998. Prior to graduate school, he worked as a registered nurse in the ICU and ED of Loma Linda University Community Medical Center for approximately 7 years, having earned his BSN from Pace University in New York in 1993. Prior to entering nursing, Keith earned a Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1990. Keith has long been interested in technology and science, and has been using Palm OS devices in his practice since 1998.

When I first received the Sony Clie PEG SL-30, I was impressed by it's small size and bright, high resolution (320x320) color screen. Then I started playing with the various optional applications that are included on the installation CD, including a picture album, slide show viewer, and generic movie clip viewer. I started by installing a dozen or so JPEGs of my son at his first birthday party, and a video of him walking forward (rather than cruising sideways around furniture) for the first time. Its really cute. He has this plastic car with a handle that he stands behind and pushes forward like a shopping cart, the whole time wearing this big grin on his fac... What?

This review is supposed to be about what? Nursing Applications? Hmm? What? Oh. OH! ...Nursing applications. Right! (I knew that). Ahem. (sorry)

The Sony Clie PEG SL-30 Personal Entertainment Organizer has a 33 MHz processor and a high resolution, backlit color screen capable of displaying 65,000 colors. It runs Palm OS 4.1, and includes the usual Sony tweaks, such as the Jog-dial, memory stick slot and MP3 player option. It also has 16 megabytes of RAM (only 15 free though) as well as 4 meg of ROM. I immediately tried to fill the thing up. The new ePocrates, MedRules, MedCalc, all my AddressBook, MemoPad, and Calender entries, a few games (some are included on the installation CD - Zap! 2016 is much more fun in color!), and the various multimedia files mentioned above. (He really is cute, grinning as he stomps his way along....Sorry, I'm doing it again, aren't I?.) That took about 10 meg (Including the video). If I'd had a memory stick to put in the slot, I could have done a lot more. (I've read that a 128meg memory stick will hold almost an hour of low-res video).

So - what's the deal with nursing and the SJ30? Well, its small and fast, with an easy to read screen, and it has enough memory to handle one or two of the larger reference applications onboard, without having to resort to external cards, with the hassle that sometimes leads to. I showed it to a coworker who is beginning to suffer the ravages of presbyopia (her arms aren't long enough), which is making it very hard to read her old Palm V series. She loved the high-contrast display, and the ability to color code entries. At 33MHz, its not the fastest Palm OS device out there (there are several running at 66MHz, and Sony even has one device with a 200MHz StrongArm processor), but it is fast enough to run reference or database apps. You will notice a slow-down if you try to do heavy number crunching (such as running a spreadsheet on TinySheet, or sorting a large database in HanDBase). However, at $250 (street price) you can't really complain.

The multimedia functions did give me pause to think. I could see using little video clips as an adjunct to patient teaching. I work in Orthopedics, so I occasionally have to teach patients and family how to do minor procedures, such as wet-to-dry dressings, or external fixator pin care. Occasionally, something comes up that I can't demonstrate on the patient (If the pin care is done correctly, there aren't any scabs, so I can't show people how to remove them...). I can also see using an MP3 player to listen to CE courses, or clinical digests. Sony makes a digital camera on a memory stick that you could use to document wounds, or faces (the address book now lets you attach image files to individual addresses, so if you remember faces but not names, you can look them up). Margi Systems now makes a memory-stick version of Presenter-To-Go, so that you can store a powerpoint presentation on your PDA and not have to lug a laptop for your next conference presentation.

I actually think the SJ-30 would make a good entry-level PDA. Yes, at $250, it's a little expensive for entry level. But think of it this way: It has enough memory to hold a lot of reference material, is small enough to fit in a scrub pocket, and runs a version of Palm OS that is new enough that it won't have to be upgraded for a few years. On top of that, it has enough multimedia options to make it palatable to the young user (like, say, a new grad nurse?) AND is manufactured with that well-built, stylish design that long time Sony users have come to trust.

My final score? 95 out of 100 - a colorful, stylish little baby that would just love to come home with you!

Keith can be reached by email

Get the Sony SJ-30 here

© PDA cortex. All Rights Reserved
IT's Cutting Edge