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Sony facilitates PDA video play

Sony Electronics announces an accessory for personal digital assistants that can store TV shows to flash memory cards, making it easier to play video content on its Clie handhelds.

Sony Electronics is stressing the multimedia capabilities of its line of handheld organizers with its latest accessory--a video recorder that stores content to removable flash memory cards.

The consumer electronics company announced on Tuesday the availability of its $300 Clie PEGA-VR100K, an accessory for the company's Clie handheld organizers. The accessory records content from a television or cable set-top box to a Memory Stick card. The device records the video at 15 frames per second in a small-screen format, 320 pixels by 240 pixels, making it ideal for the smaller displays of its Clie devices. The content is also viewable on a TV or a PC.

The new device hits on several initiatives for Sony and its Clie handhelds and Memory Stick format, including emphasizing the multimedia capabilities of its handhelds and increasing the types and uses of Memory Stick. The company has tried to differentiate its organizers from those made by other companies such as Palm and Handspring by taking advantage of Sony's multimedia heritage and including audio- and video-playback features on their organizers. For example, Sony was the first handheld maker to have a built-in digital music player in a device.

Sony has also tried to expand the number and types of devices that can use Memory Stick, a removable flash memory card format it developed through partnerships with other major consumer electronics makers, such as Samsung Electronics and Royal Philips Electronics.

The format will battle with Secure Digital in the future to be the market share leader in removable flash memory card formats, according to analysts. CompactFlash is currently the market leader among the numerous removable flash memory card formats, which include SmartMedia, xD Picture Card and MultiMediaCard.

The device is a little larger than a VHS tape, and it records more than 4 hours of programming onto a 1GB Memory Stick Pro card, according to the company. Consumers can program the device to begin recording at a certain time, and PCs with a video-input jack can use the device to display television shows with the device's built-in TV tuner.