New York, NY-- Sony launched the CLIE, its first Palm OS handheld computer here last night with the promise that the device will revolutionize the handheld information/entertainment category what the Walkman did for portable music.
The CLIE, which stands for Communication, Link, Information and Entertainment, is slightly smaller than the Palm V, and comes with a special jog dial for one-handed operation. The monochrome unit ships next week at a suggested retail price of $400 to a wide retail distribution including Circuit City, Best Buy, CompUSA, regional retailers and mail order houses, said Mark Viken, president of Sony's Personal Network Solutions Company. The CLIE is also available direct at www.sonystyle.com.
A color version of the CLIE will be offered in the near future. Sixty percent of CLIE sales are expect to go through consumer channels and 40 percent to corporations, Viken said.
Mike Vitelli, president of the Sony Consumer Electronics Group, introduced the CLIE noting that "Sony has the brand to broaden consumer adoption of a network based gadget," and that Sony's clear vision of the handheld will "drive the Palm OS into new areas." Seven million Palm OS units have sold to date according to International Data Corporation, Framingham, Mass.
The CLIE has 8MB of internal memory, a Memory Stick slot and is bundled with an 8MB memory Stick. The 4.3-ounce device has a gMedia application to play digital video at up to 15 frames per second, said Viken noting, "I see a day when you can download a movie trailer while you are waiting on line at the movie theater."
The device also has some advanced graphics capability.
The CLIE allows image sharing so users can import pictures of a person's face into their address book. Sony expects to embed applications directly onto Memory Stick expansion modules in the future, including a camera, GPS tracker, Bluetooth connector, and voice recorder.