Sony updates VAIO and aims for handheld market

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Sony has taken the next step into IT/AV convergence with the unveiling of several prototype multimedia products the vendor says will take its premium VAIO brand beyond the PC and into the hands of consumers – literally.

Sony has taken the next step into IT/AV convergence with the unveiling of several prototype multimedia products the vendor says will take its premium VAIO brand beyond the PC and into the hands of consumers – literally.

Along with updating its VAIO notebook PC range, Sony this week demonstrated two forthcoming handheld, networked devices – one a multimedia player, the other closer to a PDA. Both devices will be targeted at the consumer market.

The updates to the VAIO line aimed to sever the barriers between AV and IT products, said Kunimasa Suzuki, president of Sony's Global VAIO direct department. 'True technology convergence will allow users to create, edit and share digital content any time, anywhere.'

'We are driving this demand with a new class of smart, compatible, easy to use network-connected devices that offer true convergence.'

Sony also unveiled its updated VAIO notebook range - a 13.3-inch widescreen S18 and two 15-inch A Series notebooks.

The Centrino-based 1.6GHz S18 features a WXGA screen, wireless LAN and DVD-RW drive. Including the battery, it clocks in at 1.89kg and provides 5.5 hours of usage time.

The A17GP features a standard SXGA, 15-inch screen with an ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics chipset and DVD+/-RW drive. Additionally, Sony also announced the less-featured A15GP, featuring a 15-inch XGA display and targeted at corporate users.

The S18 is due in July and costs $4,299. The A17GP, also costing $4,299, and the $3,199 A15GP are both due out this month.

The two prototype devices designed to bring greater PC-based functions to handheld devices under the VAIO banner. The first, a hard disk-based portable audio and video player, is about the size of a standard digital camera and features a colour LCD display with Sony's proprietary Do VAIO user interface. Additionally, it features built-in wireless networking to transfer media to any WiFi receiver for real-time playback.

Suzuki claimed the second model, sitting between a PDA and a Tablet PC, is the world's smallest and lightest Windows PC. It runs Windows XP and features the Do VAIO user interface. It can be operated via stylus, detachable keyboard, or a small notebook-like pointer.

Both prototypes are targeted at consumers and will have an initial Japanese release this year. An Australian release is uncertain at this stage.

 

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