An organizer with a twist, Sony’s Clie PEG-UX50 riffs on the new convertible tablet PC format in pocket computer size. It’s largely the form factor — especially the convenient thumb keyboard — that distinguishes the Clie from the garden variety Palm-based PDA.

On the one hand, throwing in your

lot with the Palm people means your device has access to a growing body of applications, which is a good thing. But it also positions it against Palm’s industry standard hardware — stiff competition given the share of wallet and mind those PDAs command.

The Clie’s screen rotates and folds against the back of the keyboard, changing the format from very small laptop to very small PDA. It’s handy for using the built-in 310,000-pixel digital camera, but the screen is much smaller than, say, a Palm Tungsten’s, so it’s of limited utility as a Graffitti-style PDA.

Sony chucks a lot of extras into the package — the camera also works for video clips, there’s a built-in microphone for taking audio notes, and an MP3 player with headphone jack. It’s also Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled, with the attendant life-changing possibilities that offers.

It hasn’t the horsepower of the Tungsten — it has a 300 MHz processor compared to the Palm’s 400 — but it has more memory (104 MB compared to 64).

But those extras come at a steep price — you’ll pay about $1,000 for the Clie, while the Tungsten will run you about $600.

Is it worth the extra $400? That depends on your priorities. The Tungsten can handle most of the business functions of a Clie, and boasts the big, beautiful panoramic screen. The Clie’s camera doesn’t have the resolution to be a worthy differentiator, but it’s integrated WiFi is a huge plus (the Tungsten features Bluetooth only). And if you’re a thumb-typing addict (stand up, BlackBerry users), you’ll want the Clie over the Tungsten.

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