Sony mylo, part deux
A couple of the devices that I carry with me everyday have all the features of the Sony mylo 2.0, and then some. Yet, I am still quite intrigued by this device. I can’t help it; it’s a shiny new gadget. 🙂
I doubt that many people bought the first mylo. It was a cool device, and I was quite excited to see one in person, but I think at the time of its announcement and release, there were other devices, including Sony’s own PSP, that had similar features plus more functionality, for less money. I had been hoping that perhaps the first mylo would’ve taken the same great media playback features and the wireless connectivity of the PSP and repackaged it into more of a communication device than a gaming device. I had also hoped that some of the technology in the mylo would have been ported back into the PSP — well, mainly the slide-out keyboard and the dedicated media playback controls. Entering text on the PSP is a pain.
However when I finally got my hands on the mylo, I was disappointed that it didn’t even support all of the audio and video codecs that the PSP did. At the time I had been pleasantly surprised that the latest firmware update for the PSP (3.x, IIRC) allowed it to support most audio and video podcast material formatted for the iPod without any transcoding. That, combined with the RSS support that allowed the user to download podcasts directly to the PSP, made the PSP a really nice media playback device for me. The PSP also had an okay browser that was marred by low memory errors and the lack of a decent text input method. The mylo seemed to improve on the PSP in that arena, slightly, but not enough to make it a great browsing device. These were my impressions from playing with a mylo at the Sony Style store for a while. I didn’t actually own a mylo, or get an eval unit, so it could be that later on Sony released some firmware updates to address some of these issues. Or perhaps some enterprising developers took on hacking the mylo as some had taken to hacking the PSP. I didn’t follow its development closely after the mylo’s release, since I had been rather disappointed with it when I saw it at the store myself.
All that being said, I think the updates that Sony made for the second-gen mylo really go far in addressing some of the issues I (and probably others) had with the original — updates to the browser to support more Flash content (still Flash lite, not full, desktop-machine-level Flash), more audio and video codec support (upon first glance it seems to at least be on par with the PSP’s codec support now), a backlit keyboard, and some refreshed hardware design in general. It’s interesting that it has a touchscreen now. This might make mobile browsing a nicer experience, instead of having to depend solely on a d-pad or joystick to move the cursor around the page. It’s also nice that it has a camera, though I wish it had higher resolution than 1.3 megapixels.
On the software side, the mylo is a lot more like the iPod touch than the N810. It’s more closed down, with a simplified interface that probably isn’t very tweakable. And it probably won’t ever have any full-fledged apps that can be installed, however it is interesting to note that in the features list on Sony Style, there is an item called “mylo Widgets”. Under that bullet point, it is clearly stated that, “…for the first time, users will be allowed to register as a developer in order to gain access to the technical resources they will need to build their own widgets.” For a consumer-level device that’s more on par with an iPod, this is sort of a unique feature. It’s not in Sony’s nature to allow a device to be open like this, even though widgets are pretty low on the totem pole compared to full apps. I know that the iPhone’s/iPod touch’s SDK is getting released in February, but the way the text reads from Sony Style, it seems more like any average user can register to create his/her own widgets, whereas the iPhone/iPod touch SDK seems more for established developers. I would be keen to see if any mylo widgets make their way over to the PSP platform.
Lastly, I like how Sony has taken the idea of free WiFi hotspot access that they first tried out with PSP users and carried it over to the mylo. I don’t know if Sony eventually did the same thing for mylo users before, but I did notice it this time around. The number of hotspots is limited, and I don’t know if there’s a time limit overall. IIRC, PSP users could have free WiFi hotspot access via T-Mobile for 6 months or a year. Either way, this helps take the sting out of not being able to be connected all the time via a GPRS/EDGE/3G connection.
These updated features make the mylo 2.0 a very nice addition to the internet tablet device space. Right now there aren’t many devices in that area, but the mylo’s competition is stiff, with the Nokia tablets and the iPod touch (and maybe a few others I can’t remember at the moment). While I’m not sure that the mylo will reach huge sales numbers, I’m still glad that Sony is releasing devices like this. It could be that somewhere down the line, mylo features will get ported into a new version of the PSP. Even if they don’t do something like that, I like that Sony is still taking a chance in niche markets and putting out products other than the PlayStation, TVs, and other mainstream, “sure bet” items. I’ve always been a fan of Sony’s imaginative devices and hardware designs, even though I don’t like some of the decisions they’ve made with their consumer electronics. The recent mylo and the Rolly mp3 bot products remind me of the old Sony I knew and loved during simpler times. 🙂