Having defined the "multimedia handheld" category, Sony is now shaping a new chapter based on the notion of a "personal entertainment communicator."
Unveiled in the U.S. today by Masanobu Yoshida, president of Sony Corporation's Handheld Computing Company, and Mark Viken, senior vice president of Sony Electronics' IT Products Division, the new CLIE PEG-UX50 handheld device integrates both Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b) and Bluetooth wireless technologies.
The device represents the first of many Sony handheld devices that will enable users to access Web-based content and to communicate via the Internet. It also incorporates many of the hallmark features that helped to set CLIE handhelds apart, including an integrated digital camera, voice recorder, digital audio player and high-resolution color screen.
"When people think of data, they typically think of office documents, or in the handheld world, address books or calendars. But at Sony, we see beyond the 'tool' aspect of the handheld market," Yoshida said. "We have the capability of injecting wonder, joy and levels of customization into a portable device so it becomes more like a companion or a friend to a lifestyle that uses digital technology."
Multimedia Processing, Battery Life and Miniaturization
For the first time, Sony has designed, engineered and manufactured a new processor for the handheld that has been optimized with three key benefits in mind: multimedia processing, battery life and miniaturization, which are essential factors for a premiere mobile device.
Dubbed the Handheld Engine, the new processor (model CXD2230GA) is expected to find its way into future iterations of CLIE handhelds. The processor features Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Management (DVFM), a Sony developed technology designed to maximize battery life.
Depending upon the application, the new processor automatically operates at a frequency that draws a minimum of power supply voltage by monitoring its operation speed, resulting in the world's first commercialization of voltage control functions.
By integrating various I/F functions -- including two-dimensional graphics engine, digital camera and Memory Stick PRO media interfaces -- onto a single chip, Sony was able to reduce the overall size of the CLIE UX50 handheld.
Wireless Communications Options
Wireless communication is the focal point of the new device. Users will be able to wirelessly access the Internet and share e-mail either via a Wi-Fi enabled local area network (LAN) or a cell phone with integrated Bluetooth technology that includes data access service.
The unit's landscape screen orientation, along with the optimized NetFront web browser, will make for easy viewing of HTML-based Internet web sites on the new 480 x 320 pixel screen.
Built-in Non-Volatile Memory
Another breakout feature is the auto-backup capability -- a first for any handheld running on the Palm OS software. When the device detects that the battery level is extremely low, it will automatically back store information on to a separate built-in non-volatile memory. In the event that the battery life is depleted, information will be retained and can be accessed by simply recharging the unit with no synchronization needed.
Other firsts include a dedicated 29MB of internal memory for storing multimedia and data files, including MP3 audio, MPEG-4 video, JPEG still images and office document files. For additional storage, the unit features a dedicated Memory Stick PRO media slot that accommodates both the advanced Memory Stick PRO and standard Memory Stick removable media.
Sony will also offer a new CLIE PEG-UX40 handheld, which is identical to its sibling, but features only Bluetooth wireless technology. Both the CLIE UX50 and UX40 handhelds will be available at retailers nationwide in September for about $700 and $600, respectively.