Sony has upgraded its Clie personal digital assistant (PDA) with a new model that adds a higher quality display and digital music player function, the company has said in a statement. The PEG-N700C not only upgrades the Clie range, which until today consisted of two models that were launched in August last year, but also makes it more competitive against Sharp’s Zaurus MI-E1, which was launched in December 2000. The screen on the new Clie is a 320-x-320 pixel front light colour TFT (thin film transistor) reflective LCD - a much higher resolution than the 160-x-160 pixel backlit screen that is on the PEG-S500C, Sony's current color Clie model. The company has also added proprietary font software that, coupled with the better display, means a much better image, the company said. On the software side, the biggest upgrade comes with the inclusion of a digital music player. Music can be downloaded from a desktop or laptop computer to a Memory Stick that can then be inserted into the Clie. The desktop software and memory card are based around Sony's MagicGate copy protection system and use Sony's ATRAC3 compression system rather than the more popular, but less secure, MP3 system. The Clie won't play MP3 files. The company has also learnt from Sharp, which is marketing a video recorder unit for its latest Zaurus PDA. Users of Sony Vaio desktop computers that have GigaPocket, the company's TV program scheduling and management software, installed can transfer recorded TV programs onto a Memory Stick for viewing on the Clie. Between 60 and 160 minutes of colour images can be stored on a Memory Stick, according to Sony. The final major upgrade comes in the area of battery life. The rechargeable battery supports around 15 days of normal use or 11 hours of digital music play. Users of current Clie computers will notice the new model is both larger and heavier. At 71-x-118.5-x-16.8 mm in size, the new Clie is slightly longer and deeper than current models while the weight has increased to 160 grams from 115 grams. The new Clie PEG-N700C is expected to go on sale sometime in April at a price cheaper than the launch price of both previous versions but right in line with Sharp's Zaurus MI-E1. With its video and MP3 player functions, the Sharp machine is likely to be the new Clie's biggest foe in the PDA marketplace in Japan. The Clie claims longer battery life and has a higher resolution screen but Sharp has packed a miniature keyboard onto the Zaurus making a straight comparison difficult.