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Sony Clie Receives Facelift, New Functionality

Sony released the new UX series of Clie handheld PDAs, the first from the company to offer WiFi and to use a Sony-built processor.

In addition, the two new Clies have an unusual clamshell form factor about the size of a pack of cigarettes that can swivel on its hinges to convert to a standard, tablet-style PDA. The company said the clamshell design allows for a landscape screen orientation for easier viewing of HTML-based Web sites.

The PEG-UX50 offers both WiFi and Bluetooth and the PEG-UX40 offers Bluetooth. Although Sony was relatively late to the party with wireless access, Sony claims its devices are exceptionally user-friendly because they automatically detect and completes WiFi connections without requiring special configuration.

The models also have a VGA camera built into the PDA’s hinge.

In order to achieve the compact size and functionality of the UX series, Sony developed its own processor that automatically shifts speed to draw the minimum amount of power needed. This results in a battery life of more than two weeks when the device’s PIM function is used, or up to five hours for video playback, said senior product manager Ty Takayanagi.

The Sony processor also integrates a 2D graphics engine, digital camera and Memory Stick interface onto a single chip to reduce the number of chips required, said the company.

Another new feature is the series’ auto-back-up capability. When the device detects a low battery, it automatically stores information to a separate built-in non-volatile memory. The information can be retrieved when the battery is charged, without synchronization, Sony said.

Total memory embedded in the product is 104MB, with 16MB ROM for storing data and programs, another 16MB for system backup and an additional 29MB for storing multimedia content such as MPEG video and MP3 files, said Takayanagi.

The new units feature 3.2-inch transflective color screens. The PEG-UX40 is expected to ship at the end of September for $599 and the PEG-UX50 is expected earlier in September for $699.

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