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Sony unveils Wi-Fi multimedia Clié

Big OLED screen, 802.11b, slick design, long-running battery...

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Sony will next week ship its most impressive Clié PDA yet. The PEG-VZ90 multimedia handheld features not only a slick sliding control panel, but Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and a stunning 3.8in 480 x 320 OLED screen.

Sony Clie PEG-VZ90

The display provides a contrast ratio of 1000:1, a fast response time and a 180-degree horizontal viewing angle, Sony said.

Pitched at mobile multimedia applications, the VZ90 can play MPEG 4, MPEG 1 video, along with ATRAC 3 digital audio. Sony also says it will handle MP3 files, but at this stage it's not clear whether such songs are transcoded to ATRAC 3 when they're transferred to the Clié, as is the case with other Sony kit that the company claims play MP3s.

Sony Clie PEG-VZ90The handheld is based on Palm OS 5.2.1 and contains Sony's Clié Organiser PIM apps. The device is driven by Sony's own 123MHz ARM-compatible CPU, the Handheld Engine. Inside is 64MB of RAM, 40MB of which is available to the user, along with 128MB of Flash ROM, 95MB of which can be used for data storage.

The VZ90 has a Memory Stick Pro slot and a CompactFlash bay. There's a USB interface, infra-red and 802.11b

Power comes courtesy of a 1300mAh battery, which provides between four and 12 hours' video playback, depending on the brightness of the screen. When an OLED screen pixel is black, it's off and thus consumes no power, unlike a backlit LCD which is using energy even when the screen is blank.

Sony claims the VZ90 will play audio for 42 hours, with the display blank, and run for 18 days when used as a PDA.

The unit measures 10.9 x 8.7 x 2.3cm and weighs 270g. It is set to go on sale in Japan on 25 September, for ¥95,000 (£481/$863). Now that Sony has formally announced its decision to suspend Clié sales in the US and Europe, it seems unlikely we'll see a local-language version of the device over here. ®

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