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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Sony holds up its palms
Sony hopes the devices will be used like a Walkman
By BBC News Online internet reporter
Mark Ward

Sony has unveiled a hand-held computer that it hopes will become the Walkman for the internet era.

The company has shown off the first two models in a range that uses the Palm operating system.

The PEGS300 has a black and white LCD screen and the PEGS500C is colour.

Although the two devices run the familiar Palm software, they are designed to do much more than just store memos, phone numbers and diary details.

Sony is hoping the devices will be used like a Walkman to play music or watch video clips downloaded from the internet or stored on memory sticks. The device has a built in web browser.

Sony is pushing the chewing-gum-sized memory sticks as the best way to move data between the different digital devices it makes. The sticks can store up to 64MB of data.

While the first versions of the hand-held computers will be able to show video clips, they won't play MP3 music files.

Sony is part of a music industry group working on secure ways of moving music around to guard against piracy.

But a version of the software that can ensure music is not illegally copied will not be available until next year.

Palm plethora

Sony faces stiff competition in the hand-held market because established names like Palm and Handspring are updating their devices.

Microsoft has recently released a fresh version of its Windows software that runs on hand-helds.

Also, many mobile phone makers are starting to turn their handsets into small computers and are fitting them out with MP3 players, radios and digital diaries.

Sony's "personal entertainment organisers" are due to go on sale in Japan on 9 September and in the US a couple of months later.

The colour screen version is expected to sell for about 345 (55,000 yen) and the black and white version will cost about 315 (50,000 yen).

Sony previewed the hand-held computer at the PC Expo in New York last month.

Pictures of the device escaped on to the web and appeared on the PDA France site but were later removed when Sony complained.

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See also:

09 Dec 99 | Business
The mobile internet race
18 Feb 00 | Microsoft
The mobile threat
03 Mar 00 | Business
Palm off to $53bn debut
01 Feb 00 | Business
The Psion factor
19 Apr 00 | Business
Microsoft's third try to go mobile
26 Apr 00 | Business
Psion rises on Sony deal
16 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
A phone for life
21 Jun 00 | Business
Handspring rises on debut
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