Sony has announced the launch of a personal digital assistant (PDA) based on the Palm operating system, but the device will not initially feature a colour display included in prototypes due to component shortages.
The monochrome display handheld, called the Sony Clie (Communications Link Information Entertainment), will be available in the US in mid-September for around $399, and the consumer electronics giant is taking orders via the internet from today.
European availability has not yet been announced.
A model with a colour LCD panel, which featured in previews of the product in June, will be released next year. The delay was forced on Sony because of industry-wide shortages of small-form colour LCDs.
The Clie will debut with an 8Mb Ram chip, and features an 8Mb version of Sony's Memory Stick storage device which provides a removable backup capacity.
The device will also feature Sony's Jog Dial technology for one hand scrolling, a docking cradle and lithium ion rechargeable batteries.
A spokeswoman said the Clie would ship with a range of multimedia capabilities that aren't widely available on other Palm-based devices. These include PictureGear Pocket, which enables users to store digital images, and gMedia, which allows the playing of digital videos.
Analysts said Sony will rely heavily on its reputation in the consumer electronics market to sell the device, and will attempt to offer a complete suite of mobile and consumer products all featuring its Memory Stick technology.
"Sony is well positioned to exploit the boom in demand for PDAs, providing it differentiates itself from competitors and offers compatibility across its product lines," said Andy Brown, a senior analyst at IDC. "Sony is making its Memory Stick technology available across all its products from laptops to digital cameras."
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