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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