Additional Details on Sony’s Upcoming UX50 and UX40

by Reads (28,141)

Sony recently unveiled two new handhelds, the PEG-UX50 and PEG-UX40. These will use a clamshell shape with a built-in keyboard and have 480-by-320 pixel screens. They will also include a digital camera.

The FCC just approved these devices for release in the U.S. This is necessary because the UX50 will have integrated Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless networking capabilities, while the UX40 will include just Bluetooth.

Part of the FCC filing is a rough draft of the user manuals for these devices. Together with information gathered from the UX series models on display in Japan, the answers to several questions about these upcoming devices are now available.

Clie PEG-UX50

Internal Media

In addition to its 16 MB of RAM, the UX series offers 29 MB of additional Storage that Sony calls Internal Media. At the time of these devices’ announcement, it wasn’t clear exactly what this could be used for. It is now confirmed that this acts like an internal Memory Stick. This means that it can be used for anything a Memory Stick can. Applications stored in the Internal Media show up in the application launcher, just as they would if they were on a Memory Stick. In addition, applications that can access more than one Memory Stick can make use of the Internal Media, as it will appear as just another card.

Internal Media will operate like a Memory Stick in at least one other way, too. Clies have long come with an application that allows the Memory Stick to appear on a Windows PC as a removable drive. The UX series extends this so that the Internal Media can also be mounted as a drive.

While the UX series has a smaller amount of RAM than other recent Palm OS handhelds — like the Tungsten T2 and the Tungsten C — the UX series’ method of splitting its memory into these two sections, RAM and Internal Media, is a more flexible solution. the Palm OS limits what can be stored in RAM to just a few file types, and most video and audio formats — like MP3s and MPEGs — can’t be put in RAM. However, these can be put in the UX series’ Internal Media. This allows the Sony devices to store a wider variety of files internally. Of course, all of these handhelds can store any type of file on external memory cards, but the UX series has the first models that can do this without requiring the user to buy an additional card.

The Internal Media will have another advantage over removable memory cards: it is much faster. Benchmarking tests show that the UX series can access data stored in Internal Media over twice as fast as on a Memory Stick.

Landscape Mode

While the screen resolution on the UX50 and UX40 is the same as on other Sony models, the screens aren’t oriented in the same way. The NX and NZ models have their screens in portrait mode, which means they are longer than they are wide. The UX series uses landscape mode, so their screens are wider than they are long.

The screens are always in landscape mode. The UX series has the same twist-and-flip design as the NX series so it can be used in either clamshell or tablet modes. However, even in tablet mode the screen has a landscape orientation.

This means that apps written to take advantage of the NX series’ Hi-Res+ screens won’t be able to make use of the UX series Wide-Res ones. However, Sony says it will give an API to U.S. developers in the near future so they can start adding Wide-Res support to their apps.

The virtual Graffiti area has been modified so that it can be used with the handheld held horizontally. It can be on either the right or left side, as the user chooses.

Recently, numerous pictures leaked out of what appears to be an upcoming device from Palm: the Tungsten T3. One of the pictures showed it also had a landscape mode. However, it is not clear at this point if these two devices will use the same APIs.

While their display is the same resolution as the one used in the NX series of handhelds, Sony has reduced the physical size of the screen to 3.2 inches when measured diagonally, while the NX series’ screens are 3.8 inches. This means a UX series’ screen is about 70% the size of an NX series’ one.

Power Save

When a handheld is off, it is still using a bit of battery power to save the contents of RAM. At one time or another, most handheld users have had the distressing experience of leaving their device off for long enough that the battery is completely drained. This is the equivalent of doing a hard reset, erasing the contents of RAM. Unless the user has recently backed up the contents of their RAM, this can be very inconvenient.

The UX series has 16 MB of internal storage dedicated to saving the RAM. The user has the option of shutting down the computer in Power Save Mode. This means that the contents of RAM are copied into non-volatile Storage and, when the handheld is off, no power is supplied to RAM. This reduces the drain on the battery while the device is off. When the handheld is re-activated, the contents of RAM are automatically restored from the backup. Naturally, this takes more time than a normal start up or shut down.

Cradle and Cables

Unlike all previous Clie models, the the UX series’ cradles only supply power. The handhelds don’t have a standard Sony HotSync port. Instead, they have a place on the bottom where the cradle plugs into to supply power and a mini USB plug on the left side. In order to HotSync, it is not necessary to put the handheld into its cradle at all. The user can either connect the USB cable or wirelessly connect to the computer.

However, the cradle is necessary in order to recharge the handheld, as the USB plug supplies no power. In addition, the UX series can not act as a USB host, so peripherals can’t be plugged into the USB port.

Other Details

Much information was released by Sony when it took the wraps off these two devices.

Their magnesium-alloy bodies will measure 4 inches by 3.4 inches by .7 inches (103mm x 86.5mm x 17.9mm) and each will weigh 6.2 ounces (175 grams).

These models will use Palm OS version 5.2 and run on what Sony calls its Handheld Engine. The Handheld Engine consists of a Sony-made ARM926 based processor, a Digital Signal Processor (DSP), and a CXD2230GA graphics accelerator chip. Sony says this has been optimized for handheld devices, focusing on battery life and speed, and it will allow Movie Player to play video at 30 fps at 320 by 240 pixels. The exact frequency of the processor varies between 8 MHz and 123 MHz, depending on the demand being placed on it.

The UX50 and UX40 will also include a built-in .3 megapixel digital camera that can take both still images and video. The maximum size for an image will be 640 by 480 pixels.

These two models look almost exactly the same, but the casing is black around the UX50’s screen, while this area is gray on the UX40.

Of course they include a slot that is compatible with all forms of Memory Stick. They don’t include a Compact Flash slot, as many recent Clies have done.

Sony says its battery will last for 14 days, with 30 minutes of use per day. It will also be offering an external battery pack that will clip to the bottom and will triple the battery life. This will allow 35 hours of non-stop audio playback or 11 hours of non-stop Wi-Fi.

Pricing and Availability

Sony’s official store, SonyStyle, is taking pre-orders for these now. The UX50 is going for $700, and will be available on or before September 12, while the UX40 costs $600, and will be out on or before September 26. In addition, lists a couple of online retailers taking pre-orders for the UX50, one for as low as $641.

Once again, thanks to Eugene for his help with this article.

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