Pros: Superior Screen, Lots of Features, Small, Memory Stick Slot, Jog wheel, long-life battery
Cons: No Palm OS 4.0 support (currently), limited software included, cheezy buttons, limited accessories available.
Sony has done it! Finally a palm-based PDA with cool multimedia features, lots of RAM expansion, and small size. The Sony, is not much bigger than the Palm V. It's more narrow, a bit longer and a bit thicker, but not by much. The Windows CE devices by comparison are much bigger and heavier when equipped with things like memory expansion and audio (MP3 and ATRAC) capability.
My choice of OS is the Palm OS because of it's ease of use, functionality, and intelligent design. It's not overly complex, and does what it's designed to do well. However, I'm a bit of a "geek", and thus I like geek toys. I want my PDA to be small but still be capable of carrying lots of information, have cool features, and still be very useful.
I used the Palm V for a long time but then switched to the m505 due to it's new OS, native USB support, memory expansion, and color screen. I wasn't totally happy with it, however. The screen on the m505 is difficult to read, sometimes even with the backlight on, and it just seems dark and not very clear. Nevertheless, the m505 was much faster than the Palm V and Palm OS 4.0 introduced a lot of welcome improvements. The Sony is a bit of a trade off. You have to step back to OS 3.5, and the synchronization is slower because it's not "native" USB. (It does a serial to USB translation via software.) Plus you don't get the Palm 4.0 OS, and the Sony seems a bit more sluggish than the m505. However, the Sony has the best screen I've ever seen on a PDA, higher resolution, brighter, clearer, etc. Plus you get audio and memory stick capability.
One of the best features of the Sony is the memory stick slot. Thanks to a recent decrease in price on the Sony memory sticks, you can get a 128MB module for less than $1 per megabyte. The memory stick integration is also superior to competing devices, because when the Sony is docked and you activate the transfer utility in the audio player, the memory stick shows up as a removable drive on your computer. This allows you to simply drag and drop files to it without having to go through any sort of synchronization routines. Simple and effective. The memory sticks are super-small and use less power than some of the competing memory devices such as compact flash. Copying files over to the Memory stick is also very quick.
The audio playback is a welcome feature. With a 128MB memory module, you can fit 2-3 complete CD's converted to MP3 on the memory stick. You can also playback audio while you're doing other things on the Palm, as it runs in the background. I believe the ATRAC compression also allows you fit more music on a memory stick due to it's compression scheme.
Dislikes: The buttons on the Sony are really cheezy. They seem to have been a bit of an afterthought, as the rest of the unit seems fairly rugged and high quality. Also, the Clie doesn't come with much in the way of software. The m505 had a lot of included software such as Documents to Go, etc. The Sony software suite is very limited - basically just the OS stuff, an audio player, an image editor, and a useless movie player. They've included some shareware programs also, but they're really just demos. Another dislike is the lack of accessories available for the Sony. Unlike the Palm, there's really just not much available for the Sony. Also, the stylus just hangs in the device very loosely, and it's fallen out several times. This worries me a bit.
Overall: The Sony Clie' 710C is a very useful device that is very easy to use and has a lot of features as well as cool "toys" like audio. The screen is worth the cost of this unit alone. It's simply the best screen I've ever seen on a PDA. I'd definitely recommend this unit to those who prefer the Palm OS, but still want the latest multimedia features.