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Sony Hand-Held Device to Use Palm's System

Computers: The CLIE, which will be introduced next month, will include entertainment and multimedia features.

August 31, 2000|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Sony Corp. announced plans Wednesday to launch a hand-held computer that uses Palm Inc.'s operating system and offers some entertainment features.

The choice of operating system represents a win for market leader Palm in its struggle to keep devices running Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC operating system from gaining ground in the market.

The CLIE, an acronym for "Communication Link Information Entertainment" (pronounced CLEE-ay), will cost about $400, about the same as Palm's high-end Palm Vx, when it debuts next month.

Sony aimed to widen the market for Palm hand-held devices beyond mobile professionals and tech-friendly "early adopters" by including multimedia and entertainment features, said Palm executive Mark Bercow.

The multimedia capabilities of the first Sony hand-held computers are relatively modest, however. It can show pictures and small video clips on its monochrome screen but cannot play sounds.

Sony had said it would bring out a hand-held device with a color screen. A Sony spokesman said that parts shortages had forced a change in plans and that a color hand-held device can be expected in the middle of next year.

Palm previously had played down the multimedia capabilities of the rival Pocket PC devices, saying customers wanted a simple device that does a good job of handling basic organizer features such as calendars and address books.

Many of the Pocket PC devices made by Compaq Computer Corp., Casio Computer Co. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have color screens that can play movie clips, sound jacks for digital music and expansion slots for accessories. Palm also makes a model with a color screen.

The CLIE will have the same amount of internal memory as the Palm Vx--8 megabytes--but also will come with an 8mb Memory Stick, a storage device that can be used to transfer data between the CLIE, digital video and still cameras and personal computers.

The CLIE weighs 4 ounces and is about the size of a small TV remote control. It's a bit thicker and longer and narrower than the Vx.

The Palm operating system also has been licensed by Handspring Inc. for its line of Visor hand-held devices. Similar to Palms, they add an expansion slot for accessories.

Palm and Handspring have sold 7 million hand-held devices, giving the Palm operating system a 66% share of the worldwide market for hand-held computers.

Palm shares rose $1.81 to $41.94 on Nasdaq; Handspring eased 38 cents to $34.38.

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