CES 2010: Sony's Booth Coverage

Sony's VAIO and Reader

Sony's VAIO and Reader

Sony's VAIO did not get an extensive refresh with newer Intel Arrandale processors yet from what we saw. There were two new models and a new mini notebook (or netbook as the rest of the world calls them) on display, with the F-series VAIO looking very promising as a desktop replacement system. The Z-series meanwhile continues Sony's tradition of extremely light, carbon fiber designs that are very good for business users but at a price. But first, the new eco-friendly, Pinetrail based Sony mini notebook.

Sony's VAIO W series eco-friendly mini notebook is notable not for its specifications, which are typical Intel Atom Pinetrail. What it has is a chassis which is made from recycled plastic. Pre-orders are available now at Sony's website starting from US$480.

Even the notebook bag for the Sony W mini notebook is made from recyclable materials.

9 full HD display and powered by Core i7 processors and NVIDIA's GT 310M or 330M graphics, it comes with a Blu-ray drive and HDMI output. Though it may not be obvious here, the keyboard is backlit and it's done automatically through an ambient light sensor. Best of all, you can pre-order it now with prices going for US$1000 for the base model.

The Z series VAIO meanwhile is aimed at the executives who mind the weight of their trusty notebooks. At under 3lbs thanks to its carbon fiber/milled aluminum chassis, this ultraportable notebook measures 13.1 inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It features a new mode to Sony's switchable graphics option: Auto and uses Intel's Core i5 processors. A check of its specs revealed NVIDIA's GT330M and Intel Core i5 M520 (2.4GHz) as the options in test model. Pre-orders start now from US$1900.

First doesn't always guarantee winning the race. See Apple for the MP3 market and now Amazon for e-book readers. These 'upstarts' have taken the market by storm, generating more interest and increasing the user base. Sony's Reader faces an uphill task here and while it appears the Sony will soldier on admirably with new content deals and a recent 3G wireless model, the Reader Daily Edition, it's hard to see it regaining the mind share among consumers. The good news is that with the entry of newer players, the e-book reader market is quite fluid and who will ultimately emerge as the king is anyone's guess.

Despite being one of the first to market an e-book reader with a storefront, Sony's Reader has arguably lost the momentum to Amazon's Kindle. The Sony Reader Daily Edition, a larger 7-inch version launched late last year is Sony's attempt to get back into the game. At the CES press conference, it was announced that Sony is partnering with content providers like Wall Street Journal, New York Post, LA Times, etc to enable 3G wireless downloading of these content to the Reader. Currently, it's still listed at US$399.

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