Sony debuts personal IT-TV

What happens when television meets the world of digital entertainment and the Internet? Sony took the wraps off of one possible answer in Tokyo this week when it unveiled its new 'Airboard'.

          What happens when television meets the world of digital entertainment and the Internet? Sony took the wraps off of one possible answer in Tokyo Thursday when it unveiled its new "Airboard" -- a cross between a PC and a TV that is due to hit the Japanese market in December.

          At first glance, the device looks like nothing more than a restyled PC, but grab hold of the display and you'll find it's a little cleverer than that. The panel, which features a 10.4 inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with SVGA (800 x 600 pixels) resolution, comes away from the base to make the whole viewing apparatus portable.

          A wireless link between the base station and the panel keeps the two units in touch with each other for a distance of up to 30 metres, according to Sony. The system is based on the IEEE 802.11b standard, which is commonly used in wireless LANs (local area networks) and has a capacity to transmit data at up to 11Mbit/s. Sony did not disclose the actual transmission rate used with the Airboard.

          Sony said it designed the Airboard to meet the needs of a new lifestyle in which television and the Internet are both leisure activities and where more and more personal data and entertainment is being stored in digital form.

          With this in mind, the Airboard can be used as a conventional television, video monitor and Internet or e-mail terminal from anywhere in the house. No keyboard or mouse is required because the LCD doubles as a touch screen. Additionally, a slot for Sony's Memory Stick memory card allows the user to transfer images from a digital camera and use the Airboard as a digital photo album.

          For users who want to surf the Web or check e-mail while watching TV, the unit is capable of displaying both images at the same time with the help of a small display insert within the main screen.

          The Internet connection is provided via the base unit, which has a built-in 56k-bps modem, and if users connect other audio-visual equipment, such as a DVD player, digital satellite tuner or video recorder to the base unit, they can also be controlled from the portable display panel.

          At 1.5 kgs, the portable monitor unit weighs around the same as a modern notebook computer. It measures 32.0 by 20.4 by 3.9 cms, making it easy to carry around. The base unit weighs 1.0 kg and measures 23.9 by 12.0 by 14.8 cms. The standard battery will provide enough power for 1 hour of operation, while an optional high-capacity battery will allow the unit to run for 3 hours.

          Manufacturer: Sony

          Product Name: Personal TV Television "Airboard" (IDT-LF1)

          Availability: December in Japan

          Web site: http://www.sony.co.jp/sd/airboard

          Sony, in Tokyo, can be contacted online at http://www.sony.co.jp/.

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