CES Report: Meet Mylo

Michael Brown

You can make phone calls on Sony's new Mylo, but it's not a cell phone. You can browse the Web, view FaceBook pages, and watch YouTube videos on the Mylo, but it's not a notebook PC. And you can listen to music on this $300 box, but it's not just a digital media player. So what is it? Sony calls it a "portable communicator" and has aimed the device at the high-school to college crowd.

Although the Mylo COM-2 (yes, this is a second-gen product, in case you weren't aware of the first one—I certainly wasn't) isn't a cell phone, you can use it to make telephone calls using Skype; provided, of course, that you're within range of an open 802.11b/g. Calls are free if the person you're trying to reach also has a Skype account, or you can use the fee-based SkypeOut to reach landline and cell phone users. Sony will make the Wi-Fi access part of the equation a little easier by providing free access to participating WayPort hotspot locations in the U.S., including more than 9,000 McDonald's restaurants, until December 31, 2010.

Sony's reincarnated Mylo looks like a PSP-Sidekick lovechild.

But Sony anticipates most Mylo owners will rely on instant messaging more than Skype, and so they've built in a slide-out QWERTY keyboard into the device and included support for AIM, Yahoo Messenger, and Google Talk. The presence of Adobe Flash Lite 3 enables users to view YouTube videos and other Flash-based websites on the 3.5-inch, 800x480 touch screen.

Sony prefers to keep its systems closed, so I was surprised to learn that they will enable Mylo users to register to become developers with access to the tools to create their own custom programs, known as widgets. The device will ship with five such programs: Google Search, MyContacts, YouTube, RSS, and Facebook Notifier. These widgets can then be shared with other Mylo users via Sony's website, but I don't believe Sony will allow you to sell them.

The Mylo is also outfitted with a 1.3-megapixel digital camera, which Sony expects most people will use to snap photos that they can then upload to their personal blogs or Facebook or MySpace pages. The device has only 1GB of flash memory onboard (and only 850MB of that is available to the user), but storage can be expanded up to 8GB via a Memory Stick Duo slot.

You can buy a Mylo in any color you like, as long as it's black or white.

When you're not zapping IMs to friends and family or taking photos for your blog, you can use the Mylo to play simple games (Sony plans to offer Sudoku and Solitaire as free downloads), listen to music, or watch videos (MPEG4 simple profile and MPEG4/AVC baseline profile). Unlike Sony's PSP, however, there's no support for video streaming from the company's LocationFreeTV products. The device will support music encrypted using Windows Media 10 DRM downloaded or purchased from online music stores. It will also play unencrypted MP3, AAC, ATRAC, and WMA files.

Leave a comment below to let us know whether or not you'd like to see us publish a hands-on review when the Mylo ships later this month.

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