The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given Sony permission to release the Clie TH55, the first handheld from Sony with a hi-res+ screen in a tablet design. It will also include a built-in camera and Wi-fi wireless networking.
Ever since Sony released the NR series last year, some people have been asking for a model that uses a traditional tablet shape but has a 320-by-480 pixel screen. The TH55 is the answer to that request. However, palmOne beat it to the punch by releasing the Tungsten T3 several months ago. In addition, the T3 offers both portrait and landscape support, which the TH55 does not.
However, Sony’s latest Clie has some features the T3 doesn’t. This includes Wi-Fi wireless networking. It also has a built-in digital camera and lacks the slider that many aren’t fond of on the T3.
Sony has been experimenting lately with the best location for a Jog Dial. On the TH55, it is located on the back, near the top, above the camera lens. There will also be a Back button near the Jog Dial and Left and Right buttons on either side of it. The standard four application buttons are located on the front, along the bottom edge.
Sony is also experimenting with the Palm user interface. Out of the box, the TH55’s default application is called the Clie Organizer. This one application displays the contents of the Calendar, Address Book, To-Do list, and Memo Pad. It also displays a list of the other applications on the handheld, allowing them to be opened.
This model also includes a new feature called Data Assistant, which simplifies the process of copying data between applications. This has permanently been assigned to the fourth application button.
This model will run Palm OS 5.2 on Sony’s Handheld Engine. This is the same processor used in its UX series and has been optimized for handheld devices, focusing on battery life and speed. The TH55 will have 32 MB of RAM, all of which will be available to the user.
It will have a single Memory Stick slot, located on its side. This has a door that closes completely over the card when it is inserted, preventing it from being accidentally ejected.
Though the manual Sony filed with the FCC mentions that it will come with Bluetooth, another document makes it clear that the version that will be released in the U.S. won’t have it. This won’t be the first time Sony has done this. The version of the Clie NX80V released in the U.S. doesn’t have this short-range wireless networking standard, while one released in Europe does.
However, it appears that all versions of the TH55 will have Wi-Fi. It will also come with the NetFront 3.1 web browser and with Clie Mail, Sony’s email software.
This handheld will also include Piscel Viewer, which allows the user to view documents in a wide variety of formats, including Microsoft office files. However, it doesn’t come with software to allow editing of documents or spreadsheets.
The built-in camera will be able to take still pictures as large as 640 by 480 pixels, but it won’t be able to take video. The main display will act as the camera’s viewscreen. This model will have a capture button on the left side, as well a switch to close a lens cover.
It will also come with Macromedia Flash Player 5 as well as Sony’s applications for playing video and audio, including MP3s and ATRAC3s. The headphone jack is on the left side, while the speaker is on the back.
On the left side of the TH55 is a button to open the voice recorder, while the microphone is on the front.
This model will come with flip cover that clips to its top. It won’t come with a cradle, depending instead on power and HotSync cables.
According to the manual, this Clie model will be 4.9 inches tall, 3.0 inches wide, and .6 inches thick (121 mm by 73 mm by 16 mm) with the flip cover on, or .5 inches thick with the cover off. It will weigh 6.5 ounces (185 g) with the cover, or 5.8 ounces (165 g). without it.
It is not known at this time when the TH55 will be available, or what it will cost.
Other New Models
It appears that Sony is committing itself to integrated cameras, as well as Wi-Fi. Late last week, the FCC approved the release of two new models on Sony TJ series. Both of these will have built-in cameras and one, the TJ37, will have built-in Wi-Fi.