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SonyStyle Japan Has Discontinued the NR Series

Sony is a notoriously closemouthed company. As people are eagerly awaiting news of new Clié models running Palm OS 5, probably the best indicator is what the company is doing with its current high-end handhelds, the NR70 and NR70V. And with Sony being based in Japan, any word of a change is likely to come from there first. Recently, Sony has been showing signs that it is close to phasing these out in its home country. Last month, it stopped supplying them to retailers in Tokyo. A few weeks ago, SonyStyle Japan dropped the price of both models by 10,000 Yen. And today, they are listed on SonyStyle Japan as discontinued.

Of course, this leaves the company with a large hole in its product line which it will probably fill in the near future. The question is, with what?

Many are hoping that the replacement will be a Palm OS 5 model with an ARM-based processor. Specifically, people seem to want this to have the same form-factor as current NR series. This isn't outside of the realm of possibility, as the pieces are pretty much in place. PalmSource shipped the new operating system to its licensees back in June and Sony demonstrated last week that it has it running on a hi-res+ screen. It's possible that Sony was waiting for the new Web browser for OS 5 that, just yesterday, PalmSource announced was finished.

However, this isn't the only option. Last month, the Hong Kong Palm Users Group posted details of a new Sony model that it said had been leaked by a source in the Hong Kong PDA industry. This model, called the NR90, does not have the clamshell design from the earlier NR series models but it does have many of the same features. Most importantly, it isn't a Palm OS 5 device. Instead, it runs Palm OS 4.1 on a 66 MHz Dragonball Super VZ. It has 16 MB of RAM and 4 MB of ROM.

It does have the 320 by 480, hi-res+ screen with virtual Graffiti that many were asking for on the T665C. It also has a built-in camera and an MP3 player. An audio remote controller and headphones will come with it.

It still may be several weeks before Sony makes an official announcement of any new models. In the past, the company has discontinued handhelds and then not immediately announced replacements. For example, the S320 was discontinued around New Year's Day last year but the S360 wasn't announced until January 15.]

Thanks to Eugene, PIC's unofficial Tokyo correspondent. -Ed

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SONY

robrecht @ 9/18/2002 11:31:14 AM #
I don't suppose we can ignore the endless arguments about how SONY models become obsolete so quickly.

I think the T665C form factor with a voice recorder, true landscape mode functionality, OS5, and better battery life would be ideal.

Thanks, Robrecht

RE: SONY
robrecht @ 9/18/2002 11:35:33 AM #
And, of course, better connectivity options.

Thanks, Robrecht
RE: SONY
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:21:05 PM #
>> "I don't suppose we can ignore the endless arguments about how SONY models become obsolete so quickly." <<

I agree with your sentiment--it'd be nice if we could avoid the usual bitching.

BUT, your statement is incorrect. The discontinuance of a model does NOT make it obsolete. It makes it just what the term says--"discontinued." Obsolete would mean that the product is no longer useable nor supported. Last I checked, ALL Sony models are still useable, because the only PalmOS units that can truly be called "obsolete" are those that cannot run OS3.0 or later--most PalmOS software will still run on OS3.0 or later.

What "discontinued" DOES mean is that the model is no longer the latest offering, no longer the top-of-the-line, and obviously, no longer being produced. My NR-70 will still work for a long time (No MS problem, knock-on-wood), regardless of what model replaces it at the top of the Sony PDA line.

Perhaps if the knee-jerk nerds on this site were more aware of this, they would be less likely to gripe when Sony discontinues one product and releases a new one.

RE: SONY
robrecht @ 9/18/2002 2:37:00 PM #
I don't know if I've ever had anyone agree with me before in such a hostile manner.

Thanks, Robrecht
RE: SONY
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 4:46:20 PM #
Yawn, wake me when their newest PDA is out, no wait, let me sleep a few more days cause a newer one will be out!
RE: SONY
ardee @ 9/18/2002 6:57:49 PM #
...and 480x320 with Virtual Grafitti...
RE: SONY
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/19/2002 11:14:33 AM #
...and Bluetooth!!
RE: SONY
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/19/2002 12:38:44 PM #
Speaking of bluetooth i think clie's will have an advantage over PALM PDA's in terms of connectivity. With ERICSSON's expertise in bluetooth technology at their disposal SONY will have great connectivity right off the bat. With its HUGE range of electronics from audio to video and computers, sony has a huge investment in bluetooth and there is no better partner then ERICSSON to help them with it.

Good news!

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 11:35:15 AM #
I think whoever comes out first with an OS 5 device will capture a lot of initial sales from people wanting the new features.
RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 11:38:26 AM #
I agree. Palm could really have caught everyone off guard by releasing their Tungsten/Oslo model sometime here in September. Even with a rather lackluster feature set (16 megs of ram etc) I think they would have sold a ton of them to people that were just tired of waiting to upgrade their old Palm V's and/or had to be the first on the block with an OS5 machine.

Instead, I think that all of the new machines will hit the market at the same time and Sony's flashier offerngs will overshadow Palm's more subdued Tungsten.

Furthermore, the Zire will probably be the first "new" unit that Palm unleashes. However, every day that it's withheld from the market means that many more m105's are sold and all the newbies out there get a _real_ entry-level PDA instead of a 2-button, cut-down joke.

P.S. For what it's worth, I was in 2 Office Depots yesterday and I saw all flavors of m1xx styli on clearance, as well as the i705 styli and cases. So perhaps Palm is about to do some serious pruning of their product line?

RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 12:17:58 PM #
what sale? you really gonna pay $499 for that 16MB Tungsten? not me thanks. I'll pass.
I disagree
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 12:35:34 PM #
On the contrary i think everyone is going to wait until they see what everyone(Palm, Sony, Handspring, Acer, Kyrocera) is going to offer. Most if not all of those who anticipate OS5 are like you and i, early adaptors, and considering the strides that SONY made in the latter part of pre-OS5 i want to see what they have to offer. Palm will obviously release the first OS5 unit, but im sure a lot of people will wait for what Sony or handspring has to offer.

It really won't matter who releases an OS5 unit first. I'm pretty sure all will release one within weeks, maybe even days of each other anyway.

Its an exciting time. I think we will all hear something more concrete by the end of this month


RE: Good news!
cscullion @ 9/18/2002 1:09:56 PM #
As for me, as important as the amount of RAM, processor speed, screen resolution, and grafitti area, is the use of the Universal Connector and SD. I have so much invested in keyboards, modems, various SD cards and devices, and the like, that switching to Sony is unlikely, unless they come up with a feature I simply MUST have (MP3, virtual grafitti, and hiRes weren't enough).

I'll likely live with a Palm OS5 device, even if the memory is a bit skimpy, as long as my peripheral stuff still works.

Chris Scullion

RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:30:55 PM #
>> "On the contrary i think everyone is going to wait until they see what everyone(Palm, Sony, Handspring, Acer, Kyrocera) is going to offer. Most if not all of those who anticipate OS5 are like you and i, early adaptors, and considering the strides that SONY made in the latter part of pre-OS5 i want to see what they have to offer. Palm will obviously release the first OS5 unit, but im sure a lot of people will wait for what Sony or handspring has to offer." <<

I agree with this.

But does anyone really think Handspring is going to release a compelling OS 5 model? HS did tons with OS3.x, but they've done squat with OS 4. They might not EVER release an OS 5 model.

RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:32:24 PM #
>> "I'll likely live with a Palm OS5 device, even if the memory is a bit skimpy, as long as my peripheral stuff still works." <<

My bet is that you'll need to buy something new. Yes, I know Palm promised that the UC would be for a few years, but remember, they also promised that the SUDS problem wasn't real, that the m505 screen was "bright color," and the m130 could display 65,000 colors. They might use the same physical connector, but I'd be willing to be that something inside the machine will cause UC peripherals not to work on the new line, unless you buy some software patch or hardware adapter...at a price, of course.

RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 2:55:33 PM #
I also, must sadly agree with the previous poster about needing "something new". Now, we all know Palm promised that the UC would be standard for the forseeable future. Disregarding the few m100s and 105s lingering on retail shelves, their product line right now is pretty decent. Nothing tremendously great and certainly not the flashiest, but everything works as it should and the interoperability is high, what with the SD and UC "standards". Only the bewildering different types of m100 styli and the odd legacy serial peripheral remain to bewilder the first-time buyer.

That said, Palm are about to make things more complicated at best and totally nightmarish at worst.

Assuming the worst, the Zire will NOT use the UC, as has been rumoured, and there will be the terrible problem of companies like Belkin etc having to redesign their peripherals (again) to accomodate a new formfactor and connector design. Palm will cite some feeble excuse (greed,cost, and more greed being the only real motivation) for not adhering to their UC promise (a promise that is not yet even two years old!)
To top the whole mess off, Palm's going to have to explain to all the kids why they have to download patches for their games so the lack of buttons can be remedied, if the game is even supported at all.

It's more likely the Tungsten will retain the UC compatability but by this point it doesn't really matter. I know that myself as well as several colleagues are already miffed that there won't be an OS 5 unit in the m500 formfactor so that we can retain our styli and cases. All it takes is one misstep (Zire) to upset the consumers, the retail buysers (you think Best Buy are happy every time they have to make more shelf space for 3 different types of cradles and keyboards like was the case with the UC/III/V series peripherals?

It seems that Sony has at least learned a few lessons and are sticking to standards, even if they are not that great. I'd rather have a substandard "standard" (like the T-series stylus) than a slew of incompatible accessories (palm m100 vs. III vs. V). Look how successful Motorola were as they stuck with the basic Startac design for so many years.


RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 3:16:38 PM #
The picture of Oslo clearly shows it sitting in a standard UC cradle. Looks like my m515 one. Palm will continue to use the same Universal Connector until there is a compelling reason to stop, which hasn't happened yet.

I'm amused by the suggestion that people are so mad at Palm because it changed form factor for the first time in 18 months that they will switch to Sony, which hasn't ever kept the same for factor for more than a couple months. Jeez, you can't put a T665C in a T615C hardcase!! These were released in the same YEAR!!

I think you Sony guys are stealing a page from Microsoft's book and trying to spread some FUD.

RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 5:36:11 PM #
>>>But does anyone really think Handspring is going to release a compelling OS 5 model? HS did tons with OS3.x, but they've done squat with OS 4. They might not EVER release an OS 5 model.


Actually, it can be argued that much of the new functionality of OS 4 was introduced by Handspring in its version of OS 3.5:

16-bit colour support
Expansion support (unless you count the "so-called" expandable Palm IIIx)

Although I will agree that I haven't been very impressed with the company's direction lately...

rgds,

RE: Good news!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/19/2002 12:34:12 AM #
>>As for me, as important as the amount of RAM, processor speed, screen resolution, and grafitti area, is the use of the Universal Connector and SD. I have so much invested in keyboards, modems, various SD cards and devices, and the like, that switching to Sony is unlikely, unless they come up with a feature I simply MUST have (MP3, virtual grafitti, and hiRes weren't enough).

I'll likely live with a Palm OS5 device, even if the memory is a bit skimpy, as long as my peripheral stuff still works.<<

If you can stick with yesterday's technology (ie Palm's technology) and do without such swanky new capabilities, then why do you need to upgrade to OS5?

Adios NR70V

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 11:39:47 AM #
I wonder what these OS 5 models will look like... OH GAWD!!!

Hope this doesn't mean the end of the clamshell

jpfeiffer @ 9/18/2002 11:45:49 AM #
I don't own an NR, but I am quite interested in the idea of having an integrated keyboard and I don't particularly mind the clamshell design (especially given the flexibility offered with their hinged screen).

I, for one, am hoping that this isn't the end of the clamshell.

RE: Hope this doesn't mean the end of the clamshell
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 12:04:48 PM #
I agree. I love my NR70--it's the first PDA I've owned that I don't want to upgrade. For one thing, I don't want to go to an OS 5 device and lose my hacks (I know, I know, Palm has provided a way for hack-similar functionality in OS5, but it will take years for the library of non-hack hacks to approach what is available for OS4 and earlier devices). For another, I love the clamshell, the fact that I can carry my device without a case with little worry.

I'm worried because my NR70 has occasionally had the Memory Stick problem (though it seems to have gone away by itself in the last month). If it gets really bad and I have to take my device back to BestBuy, what OS5 POS am I going to be stuck with? Don't get me wrong--progress is wonderful and OS5 will be an important step forward, but it's just not something I want to have to adopt early.

RE: Hacks
Phil @ 9/18/2002 12:25:08 PM #
The Hacks shouldn´t be the problem. The Beta 1.70 of Tealmaster is supposed to be able to emulate Hacks in OS 5 (http://www.tealpoint.com/beta.htm).

Phil

RE: Hope this doesn't mean the end of the clamshell
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:36:08 PM #
>> "If it gets really bad and I have to take my device back to BestBuy, what OS5 POS am I going to be stuck with? Don't get me wrong--progress is wonderful and OS5 will be an important step forward, but it's just not something I want to have to adopt early." <<

My thoughts EXACTLY. The NR70 is best PDA I've owned, and I've owned 3 different Palms, a Handspring, and a Jornada (the low point of my PDA ownership timeline). I'm hoping the NR90 is real, because if my NR70 ever breaks down, that sounds like the only PDA I'd be willing to trade to. The T665C would be OK if it had virtual graffiti.

Just say no to clams

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 12:15:25 PM #
I really hope it does NOT have a clamshell design.

I don't want to crack walnuts with the thing, just use it as a pda that FITS IN MY FRONT JEANS POCKET.

Sony, we wear jeans over here. They fit snugly. Forget the clamshell debacle and give us back our traditional flat 2-D PDA.

RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 12:29:43 PM #
I'm sure sony will come out with several os5 devices. I for one LOVE the clamshell design and I hope they come out with a OS5 device using the NR70 clamshell formfactor. just because you don't like it doesn't mean everybody doesn't like it.
RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 12:35:51 PM #
The clamshell design is ok or even amusing at the beginning. But in the long run it just makes the device more difficult to use. A friend of mine bought a NR70V at first then later changed it to a T665. I don't mind the virtual graffiti, but I suspect it will reduce battery life because that area must be refreshed too.
RE: Just say no to clams
zigzago @ 9/18/2002 12:49:22 PM #
My sources tell me the new Sony will feature a clamshell design with a super-hot ARM processor, allowing it to function as a George Foreman grill.

RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:39:16 PM #
>> "Forget the clamshell debacle" <<

Debacle? DEBACLE?

"I don't like it, therefore it is a debacle."

Not exactly high-level logic. The clamshell design has sold pretty well, and near as I can tell, the clamshell has NEVER been a support issue for Sony. Only the MS problem has.

So take a logic course, then just say that you don't like the clamshell design and hope that Sony makes an OS 5 device that doesn't have it. They can do both a standard design and clamshell, you know.

RE: Just say no to clams
blue9 @ 9/18/2002 1:54:58 PM #
Why are clamshell designs so bad? If anything, they are great for protecting that expensive lcd (while carried in tight jeans or not).

RE: Just say no to clams
terrysalmi @ 9/18/2002 2:03:55 PM #
The biggest complaint I've seen in this thread about clamshells is the size. That's because Sony has taken a T series device height and added a clam on top of it. What if Sony was able to do some serious 'pruning' of the insides and make a clamshell device with a shorter height, as they did the SJ series?

______________________________________
The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
-Hubert Humphrey
RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 2:46:22 PM #
Clamshell or no clamshell ... Sony has a heck of a PDA. This discontinuance will probably drive down the price of the NR70V's, especially on ebay. (bummer, I just bought one)
RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 4:42:40 PM #
> Why are clamshell designs so bad? If anything,
> they are great for protecting that expensive lcd

They are useless for protecting the LCD, since I have no interest in flipping, twisting and folding the display just to get a useful form factor.

I completely disagree with the article that, "Specifically, people seem to want this to have the same form-factor as current NR series." Do a survey, or whatever, but I guarantee the vast majority of people would pick your typical PDA form-factor over that of the NR (assuming all other features equal).

RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 5:00:27 PM #
don't buy one if you don't like it and I guarentee that sony will come up with an os5 device for you. don't force your preferences on others
RE: Just say no to clams
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/19/2002 12:53:25 AM #
Sony can keep coming out with clams for all I care. I just hope they will release another simple single leaf unit at the same time so that we won't have to sit down and watch other people perform circus acts with their rotating clams while waiting a few more months for our kind of Clie.

This is why I LOVE Sony!

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:04:00 PM #
Constant Innovation. Period.

I feel like a junky waiting to get his fix. I can't wait for the next model so I can dump my NR70V (although I've only had it for 3 months! but Oh well...).

Hopefully the new models will have at least 64mb of Ram and a dedicated video processor so I can watch my favorite movies at school....I love it.

RE: This is why I LOVE Sony!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:46:14 PM #
You might be more like a junky than you think, dropping $500 every 3 months on your habit.
RE: This is why I LOVE Sony!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 1:54:08 PM #
>> "Hopefully the new models will have at least 64mb of Ram and a dedicated video processor so I can watch my favorite movies at school" <<

TRANSLATION: Hopefully the new models will have features that allow me to waste time when I could actually be learning something. That way I can beg my parents to let me burn some more of their money. Dude!

RE: This is why I LOVE Sony!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 3:11:03 PM #
He better enjoy it now. When he's too dumb to make any money in the real world he won't be able to afford these toys. Would you like fries with that.
RE: This is why I LOVE Sony!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/18/2002 4:38:49 PM #
> Constant Innovation. Period.

I am confused about how discontinuing the NR series is innovation. Other than sticking a larger than life clamshell keyboard on a PDA, Sony hasn't "innovated" since the N710C.

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