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Sony leaks Palm-based device details

Gives Wall Street Journal an early, pre-PC Expo play

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Sony will this week show off its upcoming Palm-based multimedia-capable handheld computer, according to the Wall Street Journal, which clearly had a sneak preview of the gadget.

According to the paper, Sony's as-yet-unnamed device will ship in a blue and silver colour scheme. That suggests to us, it's going to come out under Sony's Vaio brand, family members of which also ship with blue and silver styling.

It will also sport a Memory Stick slot, again meeting Sony's standard spec. for connectible devices. There's not direct Net access, apparently, but a plug-in modem has to be on the cards. Heck, Sony could even use fellow licensee Handspring's Springboard now that the add-in technology is available to third-parties under an open licence.

"The Sony device will weigh a light 5.3 ounces, be narrower than the stylish Palm V and thinner than the Palm III, and come in black-and-white as well as color versions," explained an unusually gushing Journal. It also boasts a "JogDial scrolling and highlighting button that allows users to manoeuvre the screen with one hand".

Sony wouldn't discuss the device's multimedia technology with the Wally, but the company's own comments after announcing its licensing deal with Palm - Palm's too, for that matter - suggest that that's clearly an area the consumer electronics giant wants to tackle.

"We are certainly looking at audio/video capability as the key to the growth of this market," Takashi Sugiyama, general manager of Sony's network-service business center, told the WASJ.

"By us entering the market, we think we can expand this market tenfold," he claimed. ®

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