Sony adds color to its newest Clie PDA

Sony is adding color to its newest Clie PDA (personal digital assistant), at least in Japan anyway.

With the Japanese launch Monday of the Clie PEG-T400, a sleek new model that was launched in the U.S. last month under the name PEG-T415, the company also announced a color version, the PEG-T600. Also new is a digital still camera card, announced last month in the U.S., and a GPS (Global Positioning System) card, which Sony is announcing for the first time anywhere.

Features of both devices are similar, with the display, which can show 65,536 colors, and the memory, which at 16M bytes is double that of the monochrome model, being the only main differences. The addition of the color display comes at the price of thickness and weight. The T600 is 12.5 millimeters thick, compared to the 9.9 millimeter T400, and weighs 138 grams, compared to 122 grams for the monochrome model.

All other features are the same. It has a 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor, runs Version 4.1 of the Palm operating system and has a screen resolution of 320 by 320 pixels. Battery life of the internal lithium-ion cell is given as 12 days, assuming daily use of 30 minutes per day, according to Sony.

The two new modules plug into the Memory Stick slot on each Clie handheld. The digital still camera module has a low-resolution 100,000 pixel CCD (charge coupled device) image sensor capable of delivering an image up to 320 by 240 pixels, or a quarter that of VGA (Video Graphics Array) quality. The second new module receives signals from GPS satellites and it able to provide the user with their location down to a few tens of meters accuracy. Such devices are often combined with mapping software applications to give users a map of the immediate area around them.

Both PDAs and the camera and GPS cards will go on sale in Japan on Dec. 8. The color model will retail for around 40,000 yen (US$325), the monochrome model will cost around 30,000 yen, the digital camera model will be 15,000 yen, and the GPS module will cost 20,000 yen, said the company.

Sony had no word on when the color model will be available outside of Japan. When it first launched its Clie PDAs in the U.S., a color model was missing from the lineup despite being available in Japan. The PEG-N710C was launched in the U.S. in May this year, around nine months after its Japan launch.

Along with the new PDAs and modules, Sony also announced Monday that it plans to begin selling a Compact Flash (CF) memory card adapter cradle from Dec. 15. Several companies are already offering wireless adapters for cellular telephone services built into CF cards and this adapter will allow those cards to be used with the Clie.

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Martyn Williams

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