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Sony Bows Vaio SR, FW Notebooks

Sony is effectively replacing its Vaio SZ and FZ lines with its just-announced SR “ultraportable PCs” and FW notebook series, a spokesperson said.

The SR notebook is constructed of lightweight magnesium alloy, helping the entire machine to weigh in at just more than 4 pounds. Each feature a 13.3-inch LED back-lit widescreen display and Sony’s patented XBRITE-ECO LCD technology. Also featured is a newly designed keyboard with individual keys that are slightly raised, intended to improve the typing experience. An optional built-in Web cam and microphone are also available.

The notebook comes pre-installed with the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system, though Sony said the machines can be downgraded to Windows XP Professional.

In terms of components, the SR models offer a Memory Stick media/SD card slot, three USB ports, an i.Link IEEE-1394 port, a microphone and a headphone jack, and a PC Card slot.

It incorporates G-Sensor Shock Protection technology to help protect data from damage or loss following sudden movements. Switch technology allows the user to develop customized modes for different uses such as home, work and entertainment. Essentially, it allows the user to select separate wallpaper and set five shortcuts for a variety of scenarios.

The SR notebooks are available in five colors: night black, sunset pink, glossy pink, classic silver and glossy silver.

The Vaio FW notebook is being positioned as “a multimedia PC that displays HD movies the way they were meant to be seen.”

The FWs come in multiple configurations including a standard model and a premium mode. The premium model plays Blu-ray Disc HD content in full 1080p HD resolution when connected to a compatible HDTV. It can also record, store and play back content on BD media.

The FW models weigh a little more than 6 pounds and are said to feature “the world’s first” 16.4-inch display. Sony said the display is ideal for Blu-ray Disc movies because many HD films are shot with a 16:9 aspect ratio and the unit’s extra-wide LCD is constructed with the same dimensions; it is said to minimize the black bars that typically appear so the user can view movies in the intended format. The screen is also said to allow for a user to view two Web sites simultaneously without having to tab back and forth. Select models also feature Sony’s patented XBRITE-HiColor LCD technology to further enhance the picture.

The FW features an HDMI output connector. It also offers a Memory Stick media/SD card slot, three USB ports, an i.LINK IEEE-1394 port, microphone and headphone jack and a 34mm ExpressCard slot.

Both the SR and FW notebooks are powered by Intel’s new Centrino 2 technology. Select FW units are also said to come pre-installed with the Windows Vista Ultimate operating system.

Both also offer integrated 802.11n.

Each machine also comes equipped with three entertainment software applications: Vaio Movie Story, Vaio MusicBox and Click to Disc/Editor DVD/Blu-ray video-editing software. They also come with Vaio Media software, a DLNA-enabled media sharing application that allows a user to wirelessly stream PC content throughout a home network.

The SR models are Energy Star 4.0- and EPEAT Silver-compliant; most FW models are also Energy Star 4.0-compliant.

Both series will be available at the end of the month. Pricing on the SR series will start at approximately $1,450. The FW standard model will start at approximately $1,000 and the premium FW will start at approximately $1,750.