Taking aim at the iPod generation, Sony is touting its Mylo, a pocket-sized, hand-held wireless personal communicator and portable media player, as the next must-have device on campus.
Mylo, which stands for “my life online,” allows it’s users to browse the web, use instant messaging, organise pictures, listen to music, watch videos and make internet phone calls.
With a small display and slide out keyboard - basically a miniature version of a standard computer keyboard – the Mylo essentially functions as a hand-held computer – and a phone to other computer users - without monthly subscriptions or calling plans. It has one gigabyte of internal memory, expandable with memory sticks.
Aiming to take advantage of the burgeoning number of free wireless (wi-fi) hotspots available, it connects when in range, allowing users to use instant messaging through Yahoo and Google, make internet calls via Skype, features Sony is sure will make it a winner with the youth market.
"Our Mylo personal communicator lets you have the fun parts of a computer in the palm of your hand," said John Kodera, a director of product marketing at Sony.
However, critics wonder whether anyone will want to pay $350 for an extra gadget that’s unable to place calls to land or mobile numbers, download e-mail or take pictures. The device also faces stiff competition from an increasing number of mobile phones that are incorporating wi-fi technology and a slew of so-called ultra-portable PCs.
In fact, many of the Mylo’s functions were touted as part of Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP), which was once described by the company as the Walkman of the 21st Century.
It too has wi-fi, can play music and video, display photos and is technically capable of supporting instant messaging and internet telephone calls, but the wi-fi functionality has yet to be taken advantage of by the company. It is not clear if the Mylo will be a rival to, or complementary to, the PSP.
Currently the Mylo is only available in the United States but enthusiasts are hopeful the device may make an appearance in Ireland soon.
In a study of the top economies by Ofcom, the British communications regulator, Ireland has more hotspots per capita than any other country in the world - ahead of America, Japan, France, Germany and the UK. Last year alone the number of wi-fi hotspots in Ireland grew by 210%.