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Sony stretches handheld line

The consumer-electronics maker introduces a trio of models--from high-end to midrange--to its family of Clie handheld devices.

Sony Electronics beefed up its line of handhelds with three new devices.

Sony on Monday announced the high-end $400 Clie PEG-TG50, the midrange $300 Clie PEG-SJ33 Limited Edition and an entry-level product, the $200 Clie PEG-SJ22.

The PEG-TG50 and the PEG-SJ22 will be available in retail stores nationwide starting this month. The PEG-SJ33 Limited Edition will be available this month through Sony's Web site only and is similar to the already available PEG-SJ33, but comes in a choice of orange or blue.

Sony has been updating its handheld line on a regular basis since it entered the market in 2000. The company's rapid fire of new devices has helped it to innovate features quickly, such as being the first manufacturer with a high-resolution color screen and a built-in digital audio player.

"Clearly, the industry is maturing beyond the simple digital organizer," Russell Paik, Sony Electronics' vice president for handheld marketing, said in a statement.

However, Sony is still behind market leader Palm in unit shipments, and the industry is slumping.

Each of Sony's new devices will have a 320-by-320-pixel resolution color screen, a JogDial navigation button and a Memory Stick slot.

The Clie PEG-TG50 uses version 5.0 of the Palm operating system and Intel's 200MHz XScale PXA250 processor. It will include built-in Bluetooth connectivity and an MP3 player, and will be outfitted with a keyboard and voice recorder. Though the device will not support the new Memory Stick cards, called Memory Stick Pro, a software upgrade will be available later this month.

The Clie PEG-SJ22 has similar features as the company's PEG-SJ30 model, which after being introduced in September 2002 for $300 went through price cuts and is no longer available for sale on Sony's Web site.