Sony WiFi device targets techno-socialites

When launched next month, Sony Milo (“my life online”) will be one of the most versatile WiFi devices out there. You can IM with a mylo, you can make VOIP phone calls using Skype, and you can check your email.

If nothing else, you have to give Sony credit for creative thinking with their latest product announcement. The mylo device they’re talking up today is unlike any other I’ve seen.

In form, it’s a little like a Sidekick, with a 2.4-inch screen that slides up to reveal a full QWERTY thumb keyboard. But unlike a Sidekick, it doesn’t connect to a wireless phone network. Instead the mylo depends on Wi-Fi networks for its connectivity.

Sony says the mylo (the name stands for “my life online”) is designed for a life form they call the “techno socialite” and it’s largely about communicating, presumably with other techno socialites. You can IM with a mylo (as long as you use Yahoo, Skype or Google’s chat services), you can make VOIP phone calls using Skype and you can check your email (if you have a web inbox with Google or Yahoo).

It’s also got a web browser (Opera’s mobile browser), it plays MP3s and videos, shows photos and you can edit simple text files. You have only 1GB of onboard Flash memory. To store more songs or other files, you’ll need to use Sony’s memory sticks.

The mylo won’t be available until next month, when it will go for about US$350.

I got a chance to play with a mylo only briefly at a recent demonstration, so I wouldn’t attempt to really review it. But it’s hard for me to even give an opinion. Sony says they’ve designed the mylo for the 18- to 24-year-old set whose social lives (in theory, at least) revolve around chat. Since I left that demographic last century and have never been much of a socialite, techno or otherwise, the mylo, almost by design, doesn’t much appeal to me.

But Sony makes a good argument that the mylo will allow people to do many of the things they do with a sophisticated cell phone, without monthly cell phone bills.

So kids, what do you think? Would you spring for a mylo?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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