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Sony launches eVilla Be appliance

Be's penultimate throw of the dice

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Sony has finally launched its eVilla information appliance after a couple of delays. It represents Be Inc's penultimate throw of the dice - with the cash running perilously dry for the world's longest-running and best-loved software startup.

The eVilla is based on BeIA running on NatSemi's low-power Geode platform, the Cyrix chip of yore, which can be obtained with clock frequencies up to 333MHz or as low as 200MHz. Sony has chosen the 266MHz model. The eVilla uses a 110W power supply, as opposed to the 400W+ supplies required for Pentium 4 or Athlons. More significantly, NatSemi's site claims this particular Geode consumes uses 5W at most, and 1.4W when browsing in idle mode. The machine supports Epson and HP USB printers, uses the Opera 4.0 browser, and plays back Flash and Real Media. There's 16MB of CF for storing bookmarks, cookies and scratch files, in addition to the 24MB of DRAM and a Sony Memory Stick slot.

Sony has shunned the trend towards flat panel LCDs - at least for now. The 15in CRT displays at 1024x800.

The eVilla is only being sold with an Earthlink dial-up contract right now, but Sony has said a broadband version is being prepped for a Fall launch.

Despite the dire prospects for information appliances (3Com and Gateway scrapped plans of their own) Be Inc still has another reference platform called HARP, pitched as an integrated digital audio hub, a kind of MP3 player on steroids. ®

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