Surplus PDA Sony CLIE TH55 Face Plates Review

Product Requirements:
Device:
Sony CLIE TH55

The Sony CLIE TH55 hasn’t been out very long at all, and already we have several options to customize it. From leather cases, to plastic plugs that fill the voids left at the top of the CLIE when the flip cover is removed. Another way to customize your TH55, is with a replacement flip cover. This review will take a look at the colored face plates that are being sold by Surplus PDA.

Made of semi-transparent plastic, these plates are available in blue, green, red and white. The plastic material has a luminous quality to it, that gives a person the impression that they might glow in the dark. FYI: they do! That is, if you prime them by placing them under a bright light for several minutes.

The plastic that is used for these plates does not have a mirror finish like the original flip cover. That’s a good thing if finger prints and smudges drive you as crazy as they do me.

When you purchase a face plate, you also get 2 screws and a special screw driver that will be needed to remove the original face plate from your CLIE. In case you haven’t noticed, special screws are used to hold the plate on to the hinge. It sort of makes you wonder if Sony did this on purpose, so that people wouldn’t try to remove them. I guess they had the right idea, because when I tried to remove the original screws from my TH55, the included screw driver tool stripped them out! As a result, I can’t show you what this product looks like when it is installed. :o( I’m not very happy…


Left to right: Stripped screw, worn screw driver tip

I would approach this product warily… I don’t know if I just had a case of bad luck, if the included screw driver had too soft of a tip, if the screws in my original TH face plate were over tightened, or what… Regardless, it’s left a bad taste in my mouth.

See also:  Your iPhone will travel back in time with this Slickwraps Apple Retro case

 

Price: $19.95

Pros:

Several colors to choose from
Includes screws and tool
 

Cons:
I was not able to remove my original face plate with the included tool. My screws were stripped.  

 

Product Information

Price:19.95
Manufacturer:Surplus PDA
Pros:
  • Several colors to choose from
  • Includes screws and tool
  •  
Cons:
  • I was not able to remove my original face plate with the included tool. My screws were stripped.  
15 comments… add one
  • Julie April 23, 2004, 2:35 am

    Post your comments here on the Surplus PDA Sony CLIE TH55 Face Plates Review.

    http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/surpluspda-th55-faceplates-review.html

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

  • palmsup April 23, 2004, 5:39 pm

    I’m not really interested in a plastic cover, but because of the size and color of the TH55, I think someone should made a perforated brass cover (ala Star Trek communicator from the original 60’s series). Then if it would just chirp / beep when flipped open 😎

  • Julie April 23, 2004, 6:40 pm

    Or leather, or wood… Something ‘different’…

  • jprunkard April 23, 2004, 7:44 pm

    Julie,

    I am a first poster and am not sure if this belongs here or not. However, with the fate of your face plate screws, I wanted to at least let you know there could be an quick fix for your problem.

    There is a special screwdriver made to remove safety, or “one way” screws (like the ones you see holding the bathroom stalls together) and they also work great for removing stripped screws as well. See the link below for a picture.

    I used to work in a hardware store and know these are readily available. However, most locksmiths keep them in their toolboxes, so perhaps you could take your trusty Sony to your local lock guy and he could remove the screws for you.

    Hope this helps.

    – Jeff

    http://www.shifflerequip.com/detail.phtml?cat_id=10&subcat_id=148&subsubcat_id=289&product_id=19737

  • Julie April 23, 2004, 8:08 pm

    Jeff:

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

  • sdkat2 April 23, 2004, 9:58 pm

    You aren’t alone. One of my screws was stripped by the screwdriver as well. I now have a faceplate I can’t use. I even tried removing the cover as per Sony’s instructions with the bracket intact and no way could I get that one darned screw out. I added a couple of scratches to my faceplate trying. I just put it back together and will keep it as is until a better solution comes along.

  • Julie April 24, 2004, 1:04 am

    sdkat2:

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m glad I’m not the only one that this happened to… Only because I don’t like giving a bad review to a product if it doesn’t deserve a bad review. Sounds like I was right on the mark with this one though… :rolleyes:

  • drewgolden April 24, 2004, 1:25 am

    Ladies:

    Please stay away from the TH55s.

    First Judie gets one and manages to break the digitizer safely inside the first two weeks of ownership. (Okay, IT broke, maybe she DIDN’T do it, but nonetheless it DID break, somehow.)

    Then Julie gets one and manages to strip the faceplate screws attempting to ‘improve’ on a fairly good design. (In this case, the blame CLEARLY rests with the screwdriver, and not the Gadgeteer correctly operating the screwdriver.) Yeah, I know those faceplate fingerprints can be ANNOYING. But I’m certain they’re less annoying than staring at a STRIPPED screw on the finger-print laden faceplate.

    (Julie, you’ll end up with a refreb assuming you can pass the blame back to Sony for making a strippable screw.)

    My free advise:

    Julie – go back to the Palm III. Faceplate easily snaps on and off, no need for potential faceplate damaging screw drivers.

    Judie – use a softer stylus – like a q-tip – and the digitizer may last a bit longer. And if it DOES break again – quickly pack it back in the box and RETURN it for a REFUND – then get a new one with a fresh digitizer 🙂

    Great luck!
    drew

    ps. Just taking a fun jab girls – have a great weekend!

  • Julie April 24, 2004, 2:10 am

    drewgolden:

    I’ve got a better idea, I’ll just take off the flip cover and fill in the gaps with the plugs I received from
    http://www.glblsrc.com

    BTW: if you want these plugs, you can get free shipping if you use the code: the-gadgeteer

    The code expires on 4/30.

  • Judie April 24, 2004, 2:39 am

    Originally posted by drewgolden
    Judie – use a softer stylus – like a q-tip – and the digitizer may last a bit longer. And if it DOES break again – quickly pack it back in the box and RETURN it for a REFUND – then get a new one with a fresh digitizer 🙂

    I thought about using a q-tip, but it is so much more fun to use my sterling silver bolt stylus with my Zodiac2. No need to baby that PDA. Plus it is nice to have a stylus that doesn’t cramp your hand in the first five minutes of use! 😉

  • sdkat2 April 24, 2004, 11:37 am

    Originally posted by Julie
    [B]drewgolden:

    I’ve got a better idea, I’ll just take off the flip cover and fill in the gaps with the plugs I received from
    http://www.glblsrc.com

    BTW: if you want these plugs, you can get free shipping if you use the code: the-gadgeteer

    The code expires on 4/30. [/B]

    I really like those plugs. After I removed the cover to continue in my effort to get the stripped screw out I decided to try the plugs I ordered from GlobalSource a few weeks back. I kept the plugs in for a day but it sort of felt “naked” even though it was in the Brando case so I put the faceplate back on. I think with the right case, such as a slim Vaja or Sena I would leave them in to make the TH55 more pocketable. I’m anxiously awaiting case releases from these two companies to see if they tailor them to the TH55 without the faceplate.

  • JoAnn April 24, 2004, 11:43 am

    Julie – I wince in sympathy at your stripped screws. Here’s another source for screw extractors in smaller sizes:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Screwdrivers/Screw_Extractor_Set.html

    I have a set of these and they do work nicely.

  • Julie April 24, 2004, 1:30 pm

    JoAnn:

    It’s hard to tell from the pictures if these little screw drivers would actually work in the strange screw head that Sony chose to use. The ones you link to, look like they have a star pattern to them. Am I missing something?

    On another note, are you a guitar player? Just curious because of the link to Stewart MacDonald.
    🙂

  • jprunkard April 24, 2004, 5:20 pm

    The star pattern will serve the same purpose as the two round bosses on the screwdrivers I’m familiar with. As you push down on the handle, the points of the star “bite” into the marred screwhead, preventing the slippage that caused the problem in the first place.

    I haven’t seen those little suckers before. Might have to get some for myself!

    – Jeff

  • JoAnn April 24, 2004, 6:10 pm

    Jeff is right, the points are actually fairly sharp and are harder steel than most screws. (Yes, I used to do a bit of guitar repair – StewMac is a good source for those specialty tools one can’t make oneself!)

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