Despite withdrawing from the handheld market, Sony has continued to make the U series of ultra-small computers.
Despite their minuscule size, these run a full version of Microsoft Windows.
The original U series models were essentially tiny laptops, with a clamshell design and a built-in keyboard.
The more recent ones, though, have eschewed the keyboard and used a tablet configuration.
According to Handtops.com, Sony is rumored to be working on a new U series model that will be a hybrid of the two designs.
Supposedly, the upcoming model will have a clamshell configuration, with a keyboard on one side and the screen on the other. However, the screen will be able to twist around and then be closed down over the keyboard, allowing this device to be used in tablet mode.
There’s no word on a release date or a price, but similar devices typically start at about $2,000.
Is This the Future?
Some believe that this is the direction that all handhelds are heading; instead of running operating system specifically designed for small devices — like Palm OS or Windows Mobile — future models will use the same operating system as desktops and laptops do.
He envisions a relatively inexpensive device will be just a bit larger than current handhelds and run the next version of Windows XP, code-named Longhorn (see picture at right).
Microsoft’s concept is for a device that will cost less than $1,000, weigh less than 2 pounds, and offer a constant wireless connection to the Internet.
As it stands now, though, their very high prices have kept ultra-portables a niche product. Still, there are several on the market, including the aforementioned Sony U series and the OQO model 01.
Thanks to Engadget for the tip.