By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sony Electronics unveiled two desktop PCs and mini-notebooks to its Vaio computer line and announced plans to enter the B2B market this summer with a class of specially designed computers.
Mark Viken, Sony's executive vice president for IT products, was short on specifics for Sony's upcoming venture into the business-class computer market, but mentioned that the move makes sense because Vaio notebooks and PCs are already popular with corporate America. These new products will be sold primarily through resellers.
"About 80 percent of our Vaio notebooks go into this market already," Viken said. The upcoming business machines would be based on the company's consumer models, but made more robust to better survive the heavy use received in a corporate environment, he added.
Viken said the company will start shipping the Slimtop Vaio PCV-LX810 and PCV-LX910 slim top desktop computers next month. They feature a built-in 15-inch LCD monitor and will carry suggested retail prices of $2,000 and $2,500, and ship this month.
The PCV-LX810 features an Intel Pentium III 1GHz processor, combo DVD/CD-RW drive, 15-inch LCD monitor, 128MB of RAM, Ethernet card and a 40GB hard drive. The latter model steps up to a Pentium III 1GHz processor and a 60GB hard drive. The LCD on these models features a touch screen.
In the mini-notebook category Sony added the 1-inch thick Vaio 505TL, shipping in July with an estimated street price of $1,500, and the entry-level PCG-SR33. It will also ship next month with an after-rebate price of $1,000. The 505TL is powered by an Intel Celeron 650GHz processor, has a 15GB hard drive and a docking station to contain the various optical drives used with the device. The PCG-SR33 uses a Celeron 600MHz and a 10GB hard drive.
Sony has also started two new programs to help consumers afford a new PC. The first is a consumer financing program available to those making purchases from the SonyStyle.com online store. The second will allow customers to trade in their computer for its fair market value, which will go toward the purchase of a new PC.
Other PC hardware introductions include a 16-inch LCD monitor that will ship in July for $850 and a new multimedia speaker system. The three-piece SRS-D313 speaker set will ship in August with a $130 suggested retail price.
Sony also demonstrated its proprietary Picture Paradise "middleware" technology for game developers. With this technology programmed into a video game, users can import digital images taken with a Sony digital camera or camcorder into a PlayStation 2 via USB and then transpose (or map) their picture onto game characters.
Picture Paradise devices include all Sony Cyber-shot digital still cameras and Handycam digital camcorders with USB terminals produced since October 2000. Previously released compliant models also include Cyber-shot DSC-S30, DSC-S50, DSC-S70, DSC-F505, DSC-F505V, DSC-P1 and the DCR-PC110 camcorder. Compliant Sony Mavica digital still cameras include the MVC-FD92 and MVC-FD97.
Sony has currently forged 14 Picture Paradise middleware alliances with game developers worldwide and plans to supply the middleware to U.S. game developers/publishers throughout this year. The first title available in the United States this September is from Tecmo Inc. and titled Monster Rancher 3.
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