Thursday, August 07, 2003 - Personal Technology: Slick New Hand-Held Looks Like A Laptop -- With a Price to Match - Personal Technology: Slick New Hand-Held Looks Like A Laptop -- With a Price to Match "Anyone who thinks the long slump in the technology business has halted innovation isn't paying attention to the hand-held computer market. Despite weak sales, the makers of personal digital assistants, or PDAs, are continuing to introduce bold new designs, with a focus on wireless capabilities.
Garmin has come out with a Palm-compatible PDA, the iQue, with a built-in satellite receiver for mapping and navigation. Research in Motion has announced a color model of its BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, the 7230, with a built-in phone.
Now Sony has weighed in with a wireless PDA that looks like a tiny laptop and has almost as many functions. It's the new Clie UX50, and I've been testing it for a couple of weeks.
Sony isn't new to the PDA business. Its line of Clie hand-helds, based on the Palm operating system, has drawn fans despite high prices. The Clie models were the first PDAs with built-in cameras and the first Palm-based models to have high-resolution screens. But unlike other manufacturers, Sony resisted adding wireless connections to the Internet, instead focusing on multimedia applications.
With the new UX50, all that has changed. It still has a built-in camera and a gorgeous high-res screen, and it still handles multimedia functions such as music, photos and videos with ease. But this model includes built-in, high-speed Wi-Fi wireless networking for e-mail and Web browsing. It also has Bluetooth wireless connectivity for linking up to a wireless phone when it's not near a Wi-Fi transmitter.
The most radical difference between the UX50 and most other PDAs is the overall design. Instead of adopting the traditional vertical format, the new Clie is aligned horizontally, like a laptop. It apes a laptop's clamshell design, in which the top is a lid that contains the screen and the bottom is a keyboard. It's still small and light enough to travel in a pocket or small purse, but it looks and feels like a little laptop."

Looks like a little laptop, priced like a little laptop (reviewed laptop prices lately? Check out this $849 Dell), but runs only Palm OS apps. Not on my Amazon wish list.

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