Sony Plans To Launch TransferJet Devices

Sony will launch a laptop with the new TransferJet short-range wireless system on Saturday. As the first products to support TransferJet, Sony's Vaio F laptop and TX7 and HX5V digital cameras, will be launched in Japan on Jan. 23 and Feb. 5, respectively and will hit international markets sometime in February.

TransferJet has been under development for over two years. The technology works over a distance of up to 3cm. The speed of the transfers is said to rival that of USB 2.0. Because of its limited range, developers have decided not to implement device pairing and security similar to what is required with Bluetooth. To use the TransferJet technology between a camera and a computer, the only thing a user has to do is initiate sending on the camera and bring it close to a computer with TransferJet. The rest happens automatically.

The first batch of products that will launch will suffer from a limitation: they're not quite up to speed. When Sony announced TransferJet in January 2008, it said the technology would support 560Mbps transfer speeds and that users would see actual transfer rates of up to 375Mbps after networking overheads. The first-generation products will be slower. For example, transfers from a Cybershot TX7 camera to a Vaio F laptop will run at about 40Mbps, Sony said. The slowdown is due to software overhead in the PC and data processing.

The first Cybershot cameras that will support the technology won't have a TransferJet chip in them. Instead, they'll need an optional 8GB Memory Stick card that has the embedded radio chip. This card will cost $100, or $30 more than a similar card without the TransferJet feature. Sony also plans to offer a TransferJet USB adapter for $150.

Sony hopes that the TransferJet technology will eventually replace cables for transferring data from one gadget to another. However, the technology's success will depend largely on availability and the number of products from big-name companies that choose to support TransferJet. Thus far, companies such as Samsung, Toshiba, Kodak, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Pioneer and Sony Ericsson have been suggested as possible supporters. Toshiba has been the only other company to date that has demonstrated prototype TransferJet devices.