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Sony readying Wi-Fi IM, music device

Mylo personal communicator is a hybrid electronic device that competes with a range of gadgets on the market. Photo: Sony's Mylo

Sony said it is set to introduce its first wireless broadband communications and entertainment device, aimed at heavy users of instant messaging.

Sony's new Mylo personal communicator is a hybrid electronic device that competes with a range of gadgets already on the market, including the Sidekick, created by Danger, and Nokia's 770 wireless Internet minitablet.

Mylo

The name Mylo stands for "my life online" and provides users access to online instant messaging services, HTML Web pages, e-mails, and to play music or view photos. Mylo will be available in September retail for about $350, Sony said.

Sony is borrowing the name Mylo from a prior, ill-fated generation of its handheld devices the Japanese consumer electronics giant had planned to launch in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, but subsequently canceled.

The Mylo was the last product in its discontinued line of Clie devices, which were aimed at business and professional users and would have competed with Research in Motion's Blackberry or Palm Treo devices.

The Mylo is meant to operate on Wi-Fi wireless networks, which are increasingly available on college campuses, in busy public spaces and in homes with wireless broadband connections.

It is a small, oblong device with a 2.4-inch screen and a slide out keyboard designed for typing with one's thumbs.

The device bears similarities to Sony's PSP gaming device, but is targeted at a different market: socializers who are heavy text message users and music fans, rather than gamers.

Available in black or white, Mylo comes embedded with three free instant messaging services: eBay's Skype, Yahoo's Yahoo Messenger and Google's Google Talk.

The product does not require initial computer setup or a monthly service contract, which may make the device more attractive to teen and twenty-something users.

Mylo comes with 1GB of flash memory to store music or photos or files. It supports playing digital music files inMP3, Sony's ATRAC or Microsoft's WMA format. The device can be expanded to add up to 4 gigabytes of additional internal memory. Sony is introducing a 4GB Memory Stick flash memory device this month for $170, a spokeswoman said.

The device offers 45 hours of music playback, around seven hours of instant-message chatting and Web surfing and more than three hours of continuous Skype Web-based telephone call time.

The Mylo personal communicator will be available online at sonystyle.com, at Sony retail stores and at authorized dealers in the United States.

Story Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.