Sony Debuts Wi-Fi Music, IM Device

Hoping to take advantage of the growing ubiquity of Wi-Fi, Sony said Tuesday it will be releasing the "mylo" in September. The mylo is a Wi-Fi enabled entertainment device that will be able to perform a wide variety of functions, with a focus on instant messaging.

The device, which name stands for "my life online," will allow the user to instant message, browse the Internet, make broadband calls, listen to music, send emails and view photos. No service contract or computer setup is required, and all it needs to operate is an 802.11b network.

mylo will be available in either black or white, and will come with Skype, Google Talk and Yahoo! Messenger pre-installed. Shaped much like the popular Sidekick phone, the mylo will have a 2.4-inch LCD screen and slide-out QWERTY thumb keyboard.

To assist users in finding available hotspots, JiWire's directory will be included in the device. Sony claims the mylo will boot up in seconds, and the initial boot screen will allow up to 90 avatars to quickly view who is online. Sony said up to nine online identities can be stored per person, allowing a user to select which method they would like to communicate with their buddies.

Like the PSP, the device can also create ad-hoc networks between devices, and will auto-detect other mylo units within range.

"The mylo personal communicator puts the fun parts of a computer in the palm of your hand," Sony's personal communication devices marketing head John Kodera said. "It's ideal for people who want to stay connected to their online friends and family, but not be weighed down by a PC or buffeted by charges for IM and texting on cell phones."

In addition to communication features, the mylo is also multimedia capable. Sony said the device will play MP3, ATRAC3, and secure or unsecure WMA files. MPEG-4 videos and JPG and GIF photos can also be played back on the device as well.

mylo is slated to become available in September for a retail price of about $350 USD, Sony said.

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