The newest Sony Clié handheld PDA (personal digital assistant), which was revealed on Monday, can replace most of the remote controls for its owner. A further two new accessories may also replace a camera and MP3 player.
The Clie PEG-T415 model has a 320x320 resolution monochrome screen using version 4.1 of the Palm operating system, a Dragonball VZ 33MHz processor from Motorola, 8MB of SDRAM and 4MB of flash memory.
In addition to the enhanced IR (infrared) port with a 4.6m range for controlling audio and video equipment, it has a USB (universal serial bus) port in the desktop synching cradle and a Memory Stick port.
It's hardly world-shaking for a Palm OS device to be able to control your TV or hifi, but this does add to the Clié's functionality at a time when Palm-based devices are under threat from the success of Microsoft's Pocket PC OS and handhelds such as Compaq's iPaq.
"It really does share the entertainment aspects that the other Clie handhelds are known for, the slim form factor as well as the extended features," said David Yang, a spokesman for Sony Electronics.
The channel changer in the IR port can control TVs, video cassette recorders, digital versatile disc players and audio-visual receivers, but not cable TV boxes. Not yet, anyway. "The remote commander is software driven," Yang said, noting that an upgrade could add the function, but he did not offer a timeframe for the upgrade.
Sony also released two modules for use with Clie PDAs — a camera module for photography and an MP3 music player module. The PEGA-MSC1 Memory Stick Camera Module enables the Clié T415, N760C and N610C handhelds to take digital photos. The camera plugs into the Memory Stick port. Images can be recorded on Memory Stick or onboard memory. With a maximum resolution of 320x240 pixels, image quality is too low for print photos but high enough for sending photos by email or posting them to websites.
The PEGA-SA10 Audio Adapter reads MP3 audio files stored on Memory Stick media. Files need not use proprietary or copy-protected formats like Microsoft's Windows Audio for music files, as other Sony handheld devices have required. The adapter plugs into the serial port located at the base of the T415 handheld model. It comes with headphones and installation software with supporting applications.
The T415 model will be released in the USA in November at around £210 (converted), Yang said. The camera module will be released at the same time for around £105 with the audio adapter popping in under £100. No launch plans for other regions were announced.