Preview – New Sony Clie NZ90

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Sony has finally made their splash and they made a freaking cannonball. How they kept this release quiet is a mystery, but the main specs are not. Bluetooth, Wifi and a 2 megapixel camera highlight the new Clie NZ90.

“Rivaling the gadgetry found in modern day spy movies, the CLIE NZ90 handheld integrates a feature uncommon in the handheld market these days: excitement,” said Russell Paik, Sony Electronics’ vice president for handheld marketing. “It’s a turning point in the way handheld devices are defined.”

They began showing off the NZ90 at the CES late yesterday. As you can see, it looks a lot like the NX series form factor, although it has gotten much thicker. Any illusions you had about storing this in your pocket should now be gone. The NX was a stretch, so this one will be far too large.

Forget about that though, Sony has put some serious improvements into their latest $800 effort. Yes, $800 – which means the Clie will be the most expensive consumer PDA on the market by $100 and $400 more than most other Palm OS PDA’s. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know about the NZ90 so far –

– Sony has left the CF slot in the back that will support the Sony WiFi card. No word if or when Sony will allow support for other CF cards.

– The camera has gone from a gimmicky .3 megapixels to a respectable 2. This is a major change that will allow photos of up to 1600 x 1200 pixels. So now a lot of people considering a camera and a PDA…well Sony might just swing them. The camera also has a 2x zoom and a flash. Bet that does wonders for the battery.

– Ah yes, the battery. Sony will be the first Palm OS PDA mfg to allow a Lithium Ion replaceable battery. Nice feature, especially with all these new power-sucking features.

– Want more wireless? Sony has now integrated Bluetooth. This is a huge step forward for them and resolves the issue of only having one Memory Stick slot, for the most part. They better upgrade the Web browser, that’s all I have to say. If it stinks as bad as the current one, all this wireless is cool, but not very useful.

– A redesigned easel-looking USB cradle which is loaded with features. First, it’s foldable. It also has a USB jack that could be connected to something like a printer to run off copies of your latest pictures. It also has an AV out jack that allows connecting the cradle to a TV to view your movies or pictures. What’s more, all these cables are included in the box.

– Sony has also updated most of their software, so expect integration of all these tools to be faster and tighter.

Believe me, our pre-order will be in quickly and you’ll have to pry me off of this thing with a crowbar when we get to the Sony booth tomorrow. You can pre-order at the Sony site right now for shipments at some time in April. Sure it’s $800, but I’d say feature for feature, it’s pretty clear why it has to be so expensive. At $100 more than the iPAQ h5450, the NZ90 functionality list puts the HP to shame. But will it sell? You can get a basic laptop for that kind of money.

Brian

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