Sony debuts new Clie handhelds

Sony Corp. unveiled two new versions of its Clie PDA (personal digital assistant) running Palm OS 5 on Wednesday.

The PEG-NX60 and PEG-NX70V take advantage of new features of the latest version of the operating system from PalmSource Inc., which includes support for wireless LAN connections and runs on a more powerful Arm processor. They each have a Compact Flash slot for a wireless LAN adapter in addition to a slot for Memory Stick expansion cards, and use the 200MHz PXA250 processor, making the devices fast enough to smoothly download and replay high-volume video and audio. Both devices have 16M bytes of RAM and 16M bytes of ROM.

Sony reused its clamshell PDA design for these two models. The case folds open to reveal a 3.8-inch TFT (thin film transistor) color LCD (liquid crystal display) with a resolution of 320 pixels by 480 pixels on the upper half, and a QWERTY keyboard on the lower half. The display part can be twisted round 180 degrees so that it is visible when the case is folded shut.

Both devices have a built-in microphone for recording audio. The PEG-NX70V has a 310,000-pixel digital camera built into its hinge, for capturing still and video images. The camera can be rotated through 260 degrees.

The PDAs can record up to 240 minutes of audio on a 128M-byte Memory Stick in ATRAC3 format, or 170 minutes in MP3 format. The same size Memory Stick could also hold up to 6,000 JPEG images of 160 pixels by 120 pixels, or 120 minutes of movie in the Movie Player format, which is based on MPEG 4.

A Bluetooth personal area networking module can be connected to the PDA's Memory Stick slot, but the bigger Compact Flash slot is necessary to house wireless LAN modules such as the PEGA-WL100 wireless LAN card.

"Hopefully in the near future we will be able to unveil a wireless LAN module for Memory Stick and we plan to do so," said Masanobu Yoshida, president of Sony's Handheld Computer Company.

The PEG-NX60 and PEG-NX70V will be released on Oct. 19 in Japan, around the same time in North America and the rest of the world at a later date, Yoshida said. The suggested retail prices are ¥50,000 (US$408) and ¥60,000, respectively.

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