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Sony Shakes Up Notebook Lines, Adds AIOs

1/06/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Sony Electronics will load up on new
notebooks and all-in-one PCs at International CES,
but has pulled back on the netbook front.

The company will also expand the retail presence of
its high-end Signature line of laptops and AIOs by adding
several regional retailers and specialty chains in
the coming months as it rolls out new products in that
line, said Brian Nowlin, product manager for Sony’s
networked technology and services division.

However, while expanding the availability and number
of higher-priced models, Sony is turning away from
the netbook category, Nowlin said.

“We are just not focused on it any more. The market
is different from a year ago,” he said.

Instead, Sony is rolling out the new YB series of ultraportable
laptops. The 11.6-inch-screen models will be
powered by AMD’s new line of Fusion processors. Nowlin
said Sony went with AMD because its processors are outperforming Intel’s Atom for this level of product.

Nowlin said Sony intends to put downward pressure
on the netbook category with the YB models, which
will have a $549 starting price point yet deliver a fullfunction
notebook experience.

The YB notebooks lack an optical drive, weigh about 3 pounds, and are intended for students and those
who need a fully functioning notebook.

Stepping up from the YB models is the S130. With
prices starting at $899, these models are powered by
Intel Core i3 and i5 processors, offer discrete graphics
and have an optical drive bay.

In the next price band is the SA series, replacing
Sony’s well-respected Z Series.

These feature an aluminum/carbon fiber chassis and
new hinge design and offer Core i5 and Core i7 processors,
discrete graphics and an improved 1.3-megapixel
webcam.

Two other major changes were made from the Y series.
The first is the inclusion of a hard disk drive on
the entry-level priced models, whereas the Z series
only came with solid-state drives. Nowlin said this was
done to help keep the price down to below $1,800.

The other feature is an optional “sheet” battery. This
is an 8mm-thick battery that fully conforms to the bottom
of the laptop and simply snaps on. The $199 battery
doubles the 6.5-hour battery life, Nowlin said.

Sony will show two new laptops and an AIO in its
expanded Signature series. Over the last few years
the Signature models’ exteriors were designed by
well-known artists and sold through Sony Style stores
on a very limited basis. This had been done to make a
design statement and raise money for a charity.

This concept was somewhat expanded last fall and it
will be taken to a new level in 2011, said Kevin Sather,
Sony’s product manager, IT and portable audio division.

Sony will introduce at CES two new chassis, the CA
and CB, each featuring a staggeringly bright fluorescent
color scheme.

The 14-inch CA and 15.6-inch CB come in bright green
and orange, along with a more subdued black. Each features
an HD webcam, high-end graphics and processors.

These will only be sold through Sony’s Signature
Dealers program, which includes stores like Micro
Center, Fry’s Electronics and Datavision, Sather said.

Sony will also offer a spring promotion with these
laptops, which has the company’s Imagination Studio
2.0 preloaded onto the machines.

Pricing has not been set, but the CA is expected to
cost just more than $1,000, while the CB is just below
that price tag.

The Signature rollout includes one AIO model, the
L210. This has a 24-inch multitouch screen, wireless
keyboard and mouse.

Sony expanded the touchable area on the screen to
the black glass section near the bezel. Each portion
can control a specific often-used function like on/off
and swapping between applications. Sather said this
was done to cut down on fingerprints marks on the
more heavily trafficked parts of the viewing area.

Other options include in and out HDMI ports, TV
tuner and hand gesture software that works in conjunction
with the webcam.

This is connected to the media applications and allows
users to change songs or photos by swiping their
hand back and forth in front of the camera, like turning
the page on a book.

There is also a non-Signature version of the AIO that
has a slightly different industrial design and will come
in at a lower price point.

Sony’s computer segment will also test the 3D waters
for the first time at CES with the addition of the
F210 laptop. It has a 240MGz, 16-inch display, is bundled
with one pair of glasses and will carry a $1,699
suggested retail price.

Sony believes 3D laptop owners will use it more for
3D content storage and editing, as opposed to consumption,
said Sather. The growth of 3D digital and
video cameras will require a computer for editing and
personal content creation, he said.

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