Rumor: Sony Clie NX70V & NX60 Revealed

By: Adam Zeit, Exclusively for PalmInfoCenter.
Surprisingly, Palm may not be the first company to the market with an OS 5 device. Sony, according to an anonymous but very convincing source, is days away from launching two models running Palm OS 5.0, the NX70V and the NX60, by October, 2nd. These models will be run Palm OS 5.0 on a 200MHz ARM CPU. They will have a High-Res TFT 320x480 screen, 16 MB RAM, 16 MB ROM, a new wireless expansion slot, Memory Stick slot, a built-in voice recorder, MP3 player and an internal mini keyboard. The handhelds will have the same clamshell form of the previous Sony NR series.

The NX70V will also have an internal digital camera and it will support MPEG-4 video recording/playback. The NX60 won't have the last two features and it will be priced at $499, while the NX70V will be priced $100 more, at $599.

Sony NX series are the first Sony handhelds to have a Compact Flash slot, in addition to the Memory Stick slot. However, this is not a standard Compact Flash slot, since it won't support any other cards than the Sony Wireless LAN (PEGA WL100 - 802.11b) card. This will allow the user who purchased such a card, browse the net, check E-mail and synchronize wirelessly from the NX handheld via a WiFi network.

The NX70V has an improved digital camera with 310K pixel image sensor, capable of shooting pictures with resolution up to 640x480 pixels. The internal digital camera can also record and play MPEG4 movies, with a 2MB/minute rate. Both the movies and the pictures (now in JPEG format) can be saved directly on the Memory Stick.

The NX handhelds have a built-in microphone which turns the NX series in a digital ATRAC3/MP3/ADPCM format voice recorder to store your memos. Approximately, more than 500 minutes of voice can be stored on a 128 MB memstick. There is also a built-in mp3 player, audio remote control and external headphones are supplied. Finally there is a polyphonic audio reminder feature, which uses the enhanced internal speaker. One can even record himself a memo to be run at a specific time. Just like the NR series, the NX series come with a 320x480 screen with graphic software graffiti area, a built-in QWERTY mini keyboard, a swivel LCD display and an elegant magnesium clamshell body. The NX series handheld will weigh 8 oz. and the dimensions will be 2.87/5.5/0.94 inches.

The handhelds will be bundled with an extensive new pack of software from Sony. The Sony launcher will now have 3 modes, Standard, Hi-Res and UI, a new user friendly mode. All of the standard Palm OS applications will now support the 320x480 mode. Clie Camera V2.0 is capable of X2 Digital Zoom and comes with thumbnail photo viewer mode. Movie Recorder v1.0 is capable of 160x112 video recording and 320x240 playback. The Clie Viewer v1.0 is a new application that will deal with all media files, including voice memos, pictures etc. Photo Editor v1.0 is a graphic editor for customizing pictures. Clie Album v1.0 is a special software to create personal photo albums with 2 templates to choose from. Sony will now include an easy way to upload images taken on the clie to itís image hosting website, ImageStation.com. Clie Memo v1.0 is an improved memo application with multiple colors and brush widths, for taking handwritten memos. Image Converter v1.0 is a utility to convert between image formats (Desktop->Handheld). Memory Stick handling applications are also included: MS Backup, MS Import/Export and Clie Files are already there. Finally, Clie Mail v2.0 is an improved version of the Clie e-mail application, with high res+ support, the ability to add picture/audio/video attachments, managing multiple email accounts, synchronizing mail with desktop application and receiving JPEG attachments.

Adam Zeit is an Israeli journalist (PcPlus, Information Week) and also the Editor in-chief of Palmi, the leading Israeli PDA site handling PDA's, Gadgets and Cellular Phones.

Gilad, T, Palmi's contributing writer helped with writing this article.

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Will these be upgradable to OS 6?

ardee @ 9/30/2002 9:46:09 AM #
If upgradable to OS 6, the unit with the camera seems absolutely irresistable, although I wonder about the RAM -- is it enough, and if not, will it be upgradable to more?

Anyway, I'll probably be first in line to get one of these new devices. Maybe I should buy Sony stock first?


RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
cyn @ 9/30/2002 9:50:37 AM #
depends on what changes happen between os5 and os6 - remember, it's not written yet :)

hardware wise, they at least have the right chipset. probably :)

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
ardee @ 9/30/2002 9:56:25 AM #
As I understand it, 3rd-party developers cannot create purely ARM-native Palm OS apps and have them run under OS 5. OS 6 will be needed for that. Thus OS 5 is a sort of stop-gap OS and surely any PDA developer using it knows this and has plans to go to OS 6 ASAP.

Or do I misunderstand this issue?


RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 10:11:40 AM #
you misunderstand. os5 will run native code, too.
RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 10:35:16 AM #
no he doesn't misunderstand. OS 5 will not allow 100% pure ARM applications, although it will allow from "armlets" or bits of key parts of the program to be written for ARM. while it gives you most of the benefits of a pure ARM program as the armlets will target performance portions of the program, ie. graphics calls etc. it is by no means total and some parts will always run in emulation. OS 6 will allow for pure ARM applications while still I believe having emulation as the backup rather than primary means of operation.

that said both Sony and Palm have had flash upgrades in the past for their units to higher OS numbers. clearly Palm has lead the way with this though and often didn't charge for the upgrade something Sony always has. neither company has by any means promised a upgrade could be offered or will be offered to OS 6, although many believe that likely. buyer beware.

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 11:18:32 AM #
> that said both Sony and Palm have had flash upgrades
> in the past for their units to higher OS numbers.

Sony has provided all of ONE flash OS upgrade for a singular model of their PDAs the N710C. They required you to send the device in, they charged something like $50 for it, and it was a very limited time offer. The only reason they did it was because customers were outraged that they released a "new" identical model with a later OS only a few months after its release. I would certainly place zero confidence in the OS upgradability of any Sony PDA.

Palm on the other hand is still providing OS updates for nearly every flash updateable model they ever made (the VII and the original Pilots being the only exceptions I can think of). A huge difference.

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 11:25:57 AM #
If there is no printed promise, assume it is not upgradable. How many time has Sony weasel out of upgradability? (plus there is no mention anywhere the 16mb are flashable)
OS 6 = OS 5 + new OS 6 API
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 12:30:21 PM #
Simple. Code that uses the new OS 6 API will all be compiled for ARM. OS 5 (OS 4.1 API re-written for ARM + hires API + Audio API + Browser + support for ARMlets) will be 'part of' OS 6. Units that run OS 5 and have adequate flash ROM will be upgradable to OS 6. All of this has been strongly implied - none of it explicitly stated. However - having one platform for OS 5 and yet another for OS 6 would be insane and suicidal. Nobody would do this. Then again.......
RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 1:05:25 PM #
I'd say the biggest factor is the ROM size. OS6 is supposed to add things like a real file system, custom fonts, multitasking and support for native ARM code for apps. OS5 still fits in a 4MB ROM. If they are shipping these new devices with a 4MB ROM and OS6 has a 5MB or bigger footprint, unless Palm can provide a "light" upgrade that fits in 4MB, then you couldn't upgrade. By light, I mean leave things out or put some in RAM like the Pocket PC 2002 ROM upgrade did for iPAQs - WMP, Terminal Server, Reader Messenger were RAM updates and Spellchecking and Pocket IE WAP support was left out entirely.
RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 1:27:32 PM #
The Clie is currently shipped with 16Mb Flash ROM. The leaked pdf says NX will have 16Mb ROM, I assume this will be flash as well. ROM size should not be a problem.

The problem is, Sony will be looking to owners of the NX series to buy their next product. So will they do the right thing and release an update or make a point of not doing so just to sell more of the new device. (I think it is quite common to delay the upgrade a little, so that those with bulging pockets go out and buy the new device.)

The risk is of course, that if they don't offer an upgrade and Palm do (suggesting a marketing decision) most of the current Sony owners might just go and buy a Palm or another product from another company with a better record for software upgrades.

Zuber

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 1:51:08 PM #
> OS6 is supposed to add things like a real file system, custom
> fonts, multitasking and support for native ARM code for apps

The Palm OS already has a real file system. Supporting multitasking and native ARM code, mainly means opening up and making official existing APIs by providing header files and specifying the binary format. Custom fonts would be the only "new" thing in that list. Fonts are usually one of the bigger items in many OS's, so it could be an issue. Still, you could do a minimal release that only includes a few fonts and it depends on how sophisticated the font system is.

Of course, given that you had no clue in 3/4 of what you said, I wouldn't place much value on any of it.

What about OS7??
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 2:19:56 PM #
Hey man, I'm so cheap I want to buy one unit and use it forever. If this Sony device can take OS6 AND OS7 then I can do all the voice recognition I want on this device and warez everything else man! :) Oh, and I can do all this while I still live in my parents house and geek off since I can't find a date.
who cares about OS 6, we haven't even seen OS 5!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 2:56:29 PM #
Hey wait a sec, some days ago we where all very excited about the palm OS5 debut... now we are all discussing about OS 6? kinda to ahead in time for me. Lets wait until we get a grip on some OS 5 device and then we will have a lot of things to say about OS 6...
RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 3:50:08 PM #
>> The Palm OS already has a real file system

Does it?

The Database Manager model is not much appropriate when you think of generic apps, bigger memories and add-on 128M cards.

In PalmOS 3 Palm added a simulation of "flat" files over the databases, but never took the trouble to let them be hotsynced; developpers just ignored it.

I think the time has come for a more tradicional file system, with an hirarquical directory structure. Limits (like the 32K regs max) will have to be expanded. The in-memory model used today for database access should be kept (for compability and also for easy of programming), but tradition read/write operation must be added.


RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 5:10:10 PM #
>> The Palm OS already has a real file system
>Does it?

What do you mean "does it"? Are we in a time warp here? I can create, read, write, modify, etc. files in a hierarchical directory structure (and modify that too). It's been available on Palm OS for over a year now. What planet have you been on?

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 8:25:14 PM #
>"What do you mean "does it"? Are we in a time warp here? I can create, read, write, modify, etc. files in a hierarchical directory structure (and modify that too). It's been available on Palm OS for over a year now. What planet have you been on?"<

Wrong. The Palm OS runs off a collection of databases, but it does *NOT* have a hierarchical file structure. It does appear to when you use programs like McFile, etc., but even then only on an external memory card, and it's still database oriented. You can't drill down through the folders and actually launch the application. VFS is exactly that: *Virtual* File System.

Sheesh. Learn some things before you run your mouth, will you?

Sean

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 11:37:45 PM #
Is it ego that makes people take things so personally?
RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/1/2002 12:49:33 AM #
Grrrr. I shouldn't even waste my time on idiots who don't know what they are talking about but...

> Wrong. The Palm OS runs off a collection of databases,

Run off of databases? No operating system "runs off of databases". A database is a database, whether it is in main memory or on a file somewhere.

> but it does *NOT* have a hierarchical file structure. It does
> appear to when you use programs like McFile, etc., but even then
> only on an external memory card, and it's still database
> oriented. You can't drill down through the folders and actually
> launch the application. VFS is exactly that: *Virtual* File System.

Wrong. What in the world do you think these launcher apps do???? They go into directories and load applications into memory to run! How in the world do you think JPG viewers read files??? They aren't databases! They are files and they are in directories. The Palm OS through VFS supports those things NOW. There is a RAM disk program for current Palm devices that supports this through VFS and the OS 5 simulator includes a RAM disk that does the same thing.

> Sheesh. Learn some things before you run your mouth, will you?

Go get a clue before you post.

RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/1/2002 1:55:09 AM #
It's a little silly to argue the point. Both of you need clues. Technically, a filesystem is a type of database (in which the data records are the files and the directories). But a Palm handheld with no card in the slot (that's 90+% of them) only has databases in the storage heap, so that's what the PalmOS runs off of for persistant storage. It's true that some launchers permit running apps off of memory cards, but these apps and the launcher itself are databases (prc databases, which are a variant type of pdb database) which must be in the storage heap at run-time. You can't run an app that's flat 68k or ARM machine code in a VFS file directly from the launcher. You can't sync (via a conduit) a database that's been flatted onto a memory card, or that has any record > 64k. So, currently, VFS is a second class citizen, even in OS5. Flat unsegmented code much bigger than 65k is something for which they need to enhance the OS and API's.


RE: Will these be upgradable to OS 6?
ardee @ 10/2/2002 1:47:07 PM #
...which is why I began this whole thread by asking about upgradability to OS 6!


makes me wonder

cyn @ 9/30/2002 9:47:52 AM #
if current NR70/NR70V users can 'augment' their built in apps to support the hires+ mode. I expect not, as even if they can sum up the courage to copy files pulled out of a wholly different hardware device's ROM onto their ROM, it'll still be "talking" in the newer devices language - as it were.

would be nice if sony released a 'backport' - I don't believe all the builtin apps have suitable hires+ replacements ( could be wrong )

ARM??? What happened to XScale?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 9:52:11 AM #
The specs state a 200MHz ARM CPU... What's up?
RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 9:54:03 AM #
Oh, no...not again....
RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
Admin @ 9/30/2002 9:55:47 AM #
Our sources say it will be a ARM-compliant CPU, no other specifics at this point.

-Ryan
RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 10:40:29 AM #
Dragonball MX1 processor - 200Mhz or a StrongARM processor at 206Mhz or a Intel PXA210 X-Scale processor at 200Mhz - I am putting my money on MX1
RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 11:18:28 AM #
I'll take that bet, $5 on the 200MHz XScale
RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 12:12:28 PM #
I read about a new 300mhz Intel XScale that is dubbed faster than other versions. Is this processor included in the Palm Ready program assuming Intel manfuacturers this new Xscale processor?
Duh!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 12:37:40 PM #
>>The specs state a 200MHz ARM CPU... What's up?

How anybody could have been following PDA news over the last year and not understand this is beyond me. But im a big geek - i guess - so here goes:

XScale = ARM
DragonBall mx1 = ARM
StrongARM = ARM
TI OMAP = ARM

...these are ALL ARM cpus!!!! ARM is the name of the company that designed the architecture AND the name for this general architecture. All of the above companies (Intel, TI, Motorolla) LISCENSE this design/architecture from ARM.

RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
hotpaw4 @ 9/30/2002 2:45:13 PM #
> XScale = ARM
> DragonBall mx1 = ARM
> StrongARM = ARM
> TI OMAP = ARM

> ...these are ALL ARM cpus

Actually not technically correct. These are not just CPUs. These are all controller chips that *contain* a CPU (or two), *plus* a bunch of other stuff (caches, serial ports, clocks & timers, PWM audio, possibly USB, slot, memory and display controllers, etc.) The OMAP throws in a 200 MHz DSP and local RAM.

The TI OMAP and Motorola MX1 contain ARM, Inc. designed CPU cores (ARM 9T variants). The DEC (now Intel) StrongARM and Intel XScale contain ARM architecture compliant CPU's (execute the same instructions, but with different pipeline and cache arrangements, sort-of like the difference between various Athlon, P3 and P4 ia32/x86 implementations.)

RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 4:25:56 PM #
>>These are not just CPUs. These are all controller chips that *contain* a CPU (or two), *plus* a bunch of other stuff (caches, serial ports, clocks & timers, PWM audio, possibly USB, slot, memory and display controllers, etc.) The OMAP throws in a 200 MHz DSP and local RAM.

Yes i know - but lets keep simple since some people are just finding out the ***crushing*** revelation that xscale is 'somehow' ARM related:)

RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 5:54:48 PM #
I think all of you guys are missing the point. My guess of what happened to XScale is that Sony has produced their own processor. I know that Sony as an ASIC divison and is making their own chips. The only question is do they have a partnership with ARM? If so, then it would seem to make sense that they would put together their own version. This would allow them to add things that can set them ahead of everyone else. I suspect that they put a mpeg4 engine on the same chip. So who wants to buy one of these and tear it appart and let us know what chips are inside?
DragonBall MX1 for sure!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 7:40:15 PM #
Sony is not saying because they will use other vendors too
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/1/2002 12:19:20 AM #

If it is XScale *and* Sony is not advertising it,
then I would humbly suggest that Sony plans on using
more than one vendor for its Clie line.

That means Sony will offer both Motorola MX1 and
XScale in their lineup.

XScale performance is poor. Intel won't have Palm
support in their new Beta released compiler until
November. If it is XScale, then it doesn't have
the optimized compiler. Existing ADS 1.X tools
do a poor job with Intel's XScale variant.

It would be foolish to go this early with XScale.


RE: ARM??? What happened to XScale?
Palminator @ 12/8/2002 5:42:09 PM #
I'm not exactly sure where you are getting your information about XScale, but it is entirely false. Have you run any benchmarks on TT vs. NX70/60? Please use data to make final determinations, not someone's opinion or comparison against a PPC device. Seems to me there aren't any PPC devices running OMAP-1510 ... why ??? I would speculate the device does not have enough performance to make a product.

BTW ... did you ever think that Sony has a well known brand name in consumer electronics and doesn't necessarily want to associate Intel and XScale with the Sony brand name. Sony invests a lot of money and effort into promoting a brand name and "associating" the Clie product line with Intel may dilute the branding efforts.


Coolest gadget ever

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 9:52:37 AM #
At its launch, surely the NX70V (with the wireless card) will be the coolest and most advanced little gadget in human history. It simply blows the door off any PDA by any manufacturer ever, by far. Add more RAM and maybe telephone features and it's the gadget of one's ultimate dreams.

RE: Coolest gadget ever
cyn @ 9/30/2002 9:55:32 AM #
careful, add too much and it's not a gadget anymore...

From WordNet (r) 1.7 :
"
gadget
n : a device that very useful for a particular job
"

besides, voice would be nice and all but it's not exactly a good form factor for it - unless you make sure you've got a headset.

RE: Coolest gadget ever
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 9:59:59 AM #
By Merriam-Webster's definition:

"an often small mechanical or electronic device with a practical use but often thought of as a novelty"

In my thinking, a gadget is a small device that has one or more features, period, and this thing packs more useful and advanced features into 8 oz. than anything, ever (at least until the next model).

I haven't been a big buyer of Sony gear over the years, but it looks like that's about to change big-time. I love my current Clie N760C, but it's looking to be time to upgrade!

RE: Coolest gadget ever
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 10:17:12 AM #
At its launch, surely the NX70V (with the wireless card) will be the coolest and most advanced little gadget in human history.

5.5 X 2.9 X 1 inches.
8 oz

I wouldn't exactly call it "little". Palm's design will appeal to more people. Tungsten is only .6 inches thick and weighs only 5.6 oz. Also if it is true that Sony uses a 200 mhz ARM chip the OMAP chip will be as fast and get better battery life.

RE: Coolest gadget ever...maybe...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2002 10:19:27 AM #
Let me preface this posting with a few statements:

I LOVE my Clie N760C...it is the best PalmOS device I've ever owned (and I've owned 7 devices in the last 4 years...all Palm branded, except for the N760C). I have become quite a big fan of Sony and their PalmOS strategy, despite the fact that my one-year-old N760C is about 3 generations old by now. They have pushed the PalmOS to heights that none of us could have imagined, regardless of OS version.

OK, here is my problem...Toshiba, T-MObile, HP/Compaq. I do not see myself abandoning the PalmOS for PPC, but I am afraid if the current hardware trends continue, we may finally see the significant erosion of the PalmOS market share, in favor of PPC, that has been forecast for years. The new generation of PPC devices have some very compelling feature sets and much improved form factors.

I had the opportunity to play with the T-Mobile PPC smartphone, and just on form factor alone, it is a beautiful device. It looks nicer than any PalmOS based phone I've seen, including the upcoming Tungsten W, the Treo line, Samsung, and Kyocera (I've used/owned both the Samsung and Kyocera models). This is one place where we could really see Palm take it in the teeth, since a cell phone buyer will often consider form, but not always be so concerned with what OS is embedded.

I have also been pretty impressed with the Toshiba PPC models. The e740 has built-in WiFi, plus TWO expansion slots (CF and SD/MMC), all in a reasonable (albeit kind of plain) form factor. The battery life is not too good, but neither is the reported battery life for the NX70V...but the Toshiba has a user-accessible battery compartment. I think Palm made a strategic error when they refused to sell Toshiba a PalmOS license. They were afraid to lose more market share on their more lucrative hardware side...well unfortunately, they will probably still lose market share to Toshiba, despite the fact that they are running the PPC OS.

My biggest issue is the capability for wireless connectivity. I am a bit concerned with the strategy that Sony has adopted here. By limiting CF choices, and by not including Bluetooth, I am not quite ready to just jump on this device as soon as it is available. I think Palm did a great thing by including Bluetooth, but really missed on the rest of the new Tungsten T (ugly, awkward form factor, no virtual graffiti).

I am hoping that the next Sony device running OS5 will be as thin as the T655C, with buttons like my N760C, built-in bluetooth, and pack the new features and software of the NX60 (since I doubt it will have a camera).

Maybe I'll be waiting for the crop of OS6 devices....sigh...

RE: Coolest gadget ever
robrecht @ 9/30/2002 11:05:32 AM #
"The battery life is not too good, but neither is the reported battery life for the NX70V"

Have there been any informed, credible reports about the battery life of the NX70V? I know that, in general, SONY's battery life for its high-end handhelds has been very poor, but maybe we can hope that the new processor and new operating system will provide for better batter life?

Thanks, Robrecht

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