Sony spices up PDA line with new PEG-UX

— 3:33 AM on July 21, 2003

Proving that it's still daring enough to shake up the PDA world, Sony has unveiled a couple of unique and very tempting additions to its handheld line. Blurring the line between device categories, the new handhelds are not only capable of less exciting personal information management tasks, they're also equipped for audio and video playback and recording and decked out with all sorts of wireless networking goodies. To maximize performance while conserving precious battery life, the 6-ounce Clie PEG-UX50 and UX40 use Sony's new Handheld Engine:

A key component holding the device together is Sony's new Handheld Engine -- a chip the size of a thumbnail that maximizes the power of the device without skimping on battery life.

The chip combines an ARM926 processor, a digital signal processor and a CXD2230GA graphics accelerator that uses a two-dimensional graphics engine to produce three-dimensional images. Yoshida boasted that he wouldn't be surprised if competing PDA makers asked to use the chip, although he wouldn't say whether Sony would license it to them.

Thanks to the new Handheld Engine, the new Clies are capable of MPEG video playback at 30 frames per second for up to five hours. Of course, the new units aren't cheap. The high-end UX50, which includes built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b Wi-Fi, runs just under $700; the 802.11b-less UX40 will save consumers $100. Both devices are available for pre-order now and will ship before September 12.

Like Sony's current high-end Clies, the UX line uses a clamshell design, swiveling screen, QWERTY keyboard, and runs on PalmOS 5. About all I could wish for at this point is PalmOS 6, which is hovering just over the horizon.

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