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Sony shows off new handhelds

The consumer-electronics maker says it will be bringing two new Clie handhelds to the United States.

Consumer-electronics maker Sony said Wednesday that it will be bringing two new Clie handhelds to the United States.

The PEG-NR70 will be available for around $500, and the PEG-NR70V will cost about $600. Both will begin shipping in early May.

Sony had announced the new devices earlier this month in Japan, revealing plans to ship them in that country. Wednesday's U.S. news was announced at a launch event held in New York.

As previously reported, the devices are similar in size to currently available handhelds, but the new products flip open to reveal a keyboard and a 3.8-inch screen. The screen has a resolution of 320 pixels by 480 pixels and can display more than 65,000 colors. Additionally, it can be rotated 180 degrees, covering the keyboard, so that it can be used like the screens on many of today's handhelds: Data can be entered using the virtual handwriting area or the on-screen keyboard.

Sony has been aiming to set itself apart from other Palm OS licensees, such as Handspring and Palm itself, by integrating entertainment capabilities into its line of handhelds. The company has already built a digital audio player into its PEG-N760C, and its PEG-T615C can double as a universal remote control.

However, this strategy has yet to pay off. Sony's share of the handheld market has not grown significantly since the company entered the market in 2000.

Still, Sony has been very aggressive in developing and integrating new features.

Both of the new Clies come with the remote control capabilities of the PEG-T615C, allowing them to control consumer-electronics devices--such as DVD players, VCRs and stereo receivers--from up to 15 feet away. Both units come with a digital audio player, 16MB of memory and a 66MHz Motorola Dragonball SuperVZ processor. The only feature that distinguishes the two devices from each other is a digital camera built into the hinge of the Clie PEG-NR70V.

The new units include a JogDial button, which lets users navigate up and down the screen, and a Memory Stick expansion slot, both developed by Sony.

The units measure 0.7 inches thick, 2.8 inches wide and 5.4 inches deep. Each weighs 7 ounces and come with rechargeable lithium-polymer batteries.

Sony demonstrated the NR70V earlier this year at the annual PalmSource developers show in San Jose, Calif.