Sony Unveils Two New Wireless Handhelds

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Masanobu Yoshida, president of Sony’s handheld unit, has unveiled two new Clie handhelds at a press conference in San Francisco. The new devices, the Clie PEG-UX50 and Clie PEG-UX40, appear similar to the one shown briefly by a Sony executive at a press briefing earlier this year.

Clie PEG-UX40 -- Click to PEG-UX50

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

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. 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 will have 16 MB of RAM available to the user. In addition, they will have 29 MB of Storage that works like an built-in Memory Stick. This that 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. If their battery is getting dangerously low, RAM will automatically be backed up, preventing the contents from being lost.

Combined with the 29 MB of media storage, this will allow all the features of the UX50 and UX40 to be used without a Memory Stick. Though, 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.

Their Magnesium alloy body will measure 4 inches by 3.4 inches by .7 inches (103mm x 86.5mm x 17.9mm) and the whole device will weigh 6.2 ounces (175 grams). Like its NX series, the UX50 and UX40 will 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 will offer 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 UX50and UX40 will also include a built-in .3 megapixel digital camera that can take both still images and video.

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.

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.

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.

Thanks to Eugene for his help translating.

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