Sony Cuts Prices of UX Series; New Model Coming?

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Sony has dropped the prices for its Clie UX50 and UX40 by $50 and is now bundling a free leather case.

PEG-UX50 The UX50, which debuted in September for $700, is now available from SonyStyle, the company’s official store, for $650. The UX40, which came on the market later than same month for $600, is now selling for $550.

Of course, these are just the official prices and both these models can be found for substantially less. Shopper.com lists a store offering the UX50 for as low as $557, while the UX40 can be found for as low as $482. (View Shopper.com’s listings for the UX50 and UX40)

Rumors of a New Model

As always, Sony never reveals its reasons for these price reductions. There may be no reason other than companies typically reduce the prices for their handhelds after they have been on the market for a while. On the other hand, Sony may be making way for a model.

PDA 24-7 is reporting it was told by a reliable source that Sony is preparing the Clie UX80. This will supposedly use the same size screen as the other UX series models but will also include both portrait and landscape support. In addition, it will have 64 MB of RAM, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and a different key arrangement.

Update: A spokesperson for Sony has emphatically denied that there is any basis for these rumors. (Read the full story here.)

An Overview of the UX50 and UX 40

The UX50 has integrated Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless networking capabilities. The UX40 includes just Bluetooth. They both come with Sony’s suite of Internet applications, including Clie Mail as well as the NetFront v3.0 for Clie web browser.

These models 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. This has been optimized for handheld devices, focusing on battery life and speed, and allows Movie Player to play video at 30 fps. The exact frequency of the processor varies between 8 MHz and 123 MHz, depending on the demand being placed on it.

Both the UX50 and UX40 have 16 MB of RAM available to the user. In addition, they have 29 MB of Storage that works like a built-in Memory Stick. This can be used to store applications and MPEGs, JPEGs, MP3, Microsoft Office documents and other files that the Palm OS won’t allow to be stored in RAM. They will also offer 16 MB of space to back up the contents of RAM.

Their Magnesium-alloy bodies measure 4 inches by 3.4 inches by .7 inches (103mm x 86.5mm x 17.9mm) and weigh 6.2 ounces (175 grams). Like its NX series, the UX50 and UX40 have a “twist and flip” screen. This allows the handheld to be used like a mini-laptop, with the keyboard below the screen, or the screen can be flipped around and closed down over the keyboard. In this configuration, they can be used like a traditional handheld.

They sport a 480×320 pixel, 16-bit color, landscape-oriented display. The screen will always stay in the landscape orientation. It doesn’t switch to portrait mode when the device is being used with the keyboard folded inside. 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.

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.

The UX50 and UX40 also include a built-in .3 megapixel digital camera that can take both still images and video.

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