Sony launches Net access device

In January, Sony debuted the eVilla at the Consumer Electronics Show, saying then the machine would be out in April. The launch has been delayed twice, first to May and then to Thursday to finalise partnership agreements with content providers, according to Rob Bartels, Sony Electronics general manager for product development who is overseeing the launch. Sony also wanted to iron out some "software and hardware integration issues" related to new features added since eVilla's unveiling in January, he said.

Other vendors have been bailing out of the Internet appliance market. 3Com discontinued its Audrey device in March after six months on the market, Netpliance Inc. announced in November that it would stop selling its I-opener product, Virgin Entertainment Group's Webplayer lasted less than three months, and Gateway is "rethinking" its net appliance strategy.

Sony seems to be counting on the power of its brand name in consumer electronics to carry the day where others have failed. "Sony, the brand itself, offers consumers a certain credibility," Bartels said. "Unlike those other products, we offer a compelling package of hardware, software and service."

The eVilla features a 15-inch Trinitron flat cathode-ray tube screen, turned on its end to present a better view of Web pages for scrolling. The unit uses a GOGX-1 processor chip from National Semiconductor, rated at 266MHz, although its performance is better in an eVilla than its clock speed would indicate, Bartels said. "We find that (the processor) is more than sufficient for watching streaming video on the Internet," he said. The eVilla carries 64MB of DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory).

Along with stereo speakers, a standard keyboard and a mouse, the eVilla has two USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports and a Memory Stick flash memory card reader. The USB ports do not offer the universal access to peripheral devices one might expect, however. In order to plug a device in, drivers must be installed on the appliance. While the eVilla has drivers for Iomega Corp. Zip drives pre-installed, there are no drivers for devices that compete with Sony's Memory Stick, like SmartMedia or CompactFlash cards.

Sony would consider offering drivers in an online update of the appliance's software, "if we see the user base," in the future, Bartels said.

Device drivers for the eVilla are developed only with companies working closely with Sony because the eVilla doesn't use Microsoft's Windows operating system or Internet Explorer browser, nor is it compatible with Windows Media files. The unit uses Be's BeIA operating system and uses the Opera Web browser from Opera Software, and will play multimedia content delivered in Real Networks' Real format.

Sony would consider adding Windows Media functionality for the future, but wanted partnerships aimed at "the leading format" for music now, Bartels said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?