Sony (NYSE:SNE) may have let its Walkman become a dinosaur, but it's trying to make up for lost time with electronics that it hopes will resonate with the coolest consumers. Its latest shot is a device called the mylo (which stands for "my life online").

The mylo is a small, handheld gadget that allows users to communicate using Wi-Fi networks. Specifically, they can chat using IM services from Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), or they can use voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) through eBay's (NASDAQ:EBAY) Skype service.

With its one gigabyte of flash memory (and the ability to expand its memory by a few gigs, using a memory stick), users can play music, view photos or videos, surf the Web, and stream music to other mylo users. The mylo is geared toward college-aged kids, will be sold by Sony and retailers in college towns, and will be available in the U.S. in September.

Although the mylo's features are certainly geared toward the college crowd, it's $350 price tag arguably is not. Though there are no monthly charges -- as with a cell phone -- it still seems like a hefty price for a device that only works where there are Wi-Fi networks available. (Of course, many people believed the price on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPod was too high when it launched, and we all know how that turned out.)

Foolish colleague Anders Bylund recently commented on improved earnings over at Sony, which has struggled in recent history. As he pointed out, many of Sony's electronics offerings had descended into price-competitive "commodity" territory over recent years, with the exception of hot branded products like PlayStation. Having missed the opportunity for a hot music player like iPod, it bodes well for Sony to try to strike up a similar emotional connection with users. Another interesting device it has launched this year is the Sony Reader, used for reading digital books.

I have my doubts about whether this will be a hit with college crowds. Although texting is a popular pastime for young people, many cell phones include some, if not all, of these features. Additionally, most kids go to college armed with computers, and parents are likely to see computers as a far better investment than a device that centers on chatting and entertainment. Then again, never say never -- maybe the mylo will strike a chord with college kids who are on the go and burdened with discretionary cash.

I haven't been too enamored of Sony lately -- some of its recent missteps have made me wonder if it's become too big to move particularly competitively (or wisely, for that matter, considering one recent controversy). Meanwhile, although its P/E has eased along with its stock price in recent months, I still have to wonder how much growth lies ahead, given some of the challenges. However, as I said when I wrote about the Sony Reader last winter, Sony shareholders should be relieved to see the company trying to carve out new niches with its products, instead of trying to emulate existing ones.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.