Today Sony drew a bead on the portion of the youth market which is hopelessly addicted to instance messaging by announcing the mylo personal communicator, a new handheld device which combines Wi-Fi capabilities with QWERTY-enabled instant messaging, VoIP capabilities, Web browsing, photo andvideo display, and (of course) a music player. The mylo—which stands for My Life Online—wants to be the new “must-have” device, unseating the famously-trendy Sidekick.
As a device, the mylo sports a 2.4-inch 320 by 240 LCD display, 1 GB of flash memory (supposedly upgradable to 4 GB), mini-USB connectivity, a Memory Stick Duo slot (after all, this is a Sony product!), integrated 802.11b wireless networking (supporting WEP and WPA-PSK) security), and a lithium-ion battery offering up to 45 hours of music playback, 8 hour of video time, and up to 3.5 hour sof VoIP talk time. Add to that a DC input for charging or running “wired” with the AC adapter, a 10-pin headphone/microphone interface (an adapter is included), a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for composing your messages lickety-split, and a total weight of aout 5.3 ounces, including battery.
The mylo’s capabilities come from the bundled applications, and the trumpeted functionality all surrounds instant messaging and VoIP. On the IM front, the mylo handles Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and Skype messaging—sorry, no AIM or MSN, but it’s possible the new détente between Redmond and Yahoo might let Yahoo Messenger talk to MSN buddies. For VoIP, the mylo is a full-fledged Skype handset, supporting Skype In, Skype Out, and Skype-To-Skype VoIP calling.
For email, the mylo supports Yahoo Mail and Google’s Gmail, and surf’s the Web with the Opera Web browser. Also on board: a music player (MP3, WMA, and Sony’a ATRAC format), a video player (MPEG-4), a photo viewer, and a text editor.
If the name “My Life Online” sounds familiar, you may not be in Sony’s young target demographic: Sony launched a series of My Life Online devices back in 2001 which withered in the marketplace, in part because the products’ planned introduction date in the U.S. was (you guessed it) September 11, 2001. Of portions of the mylo look familiar, you might remember Sony’s Clie PDA devices, which tried to take on Palm and Blackberry PDAs.
The mylo is designed to take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity to provide Internet-based messaging and calling (JiWire’s hotspot directory is built in); as such, there are no monthly fees for carrying around a mylo, although (of course) users may have to pay for Wi-Fi access, Skype services. The mylo manages up to nine online identities per person, enabling used to quickly select preferred communication methods with specific buddies.
The mylo personal communicator will be available in black and white cases, and is due to ship in September for $350.