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Sony Launches Blu-ray-Outfitted Notebook

Sony Electronics officially unveiled its first Blu-ray burner/drive-equipped notebook and introduced the Vaio UX Micro PC, what the company describes as its first pocket-sized PC.

Both were debuted here on May 15 at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the Sony Vaio computer line.

The Blu-ray-drive-equipped notebook is part of Sony’s new two-unit Vaio AR Media Center series. The Blu-ray drive is only included with the Premium model. It can play back and burn Blu-ray video content in 1,080p resolution on its 17-inch WUXGA widescreen display, and it has a HDTV tuner card. The unit comes with an HDMI port and the necessary cable for connecting to a larger HDTV and includes the software needed to burn high-definition content to BD-R and BD-RE media.

The Standard model is not Blu-ray equipped.

“This can serve as a secondary home [Blu-ray] player because of the HDMI port,” said Mike Abary, Sony’s marketing VP.

Both units are scheduled to ship this summer with the Premium carrying a $3,500 suggested price tag and the Standard unit coming in at $1,800.

The UX Micro is considerably smaller than Sony’s previous ultra-portable notebooks. The paperback-sized device is centered on a 4.5-inch touch screen that slides up to reveal a small QWERTY keyboard. The UX has an Intel 1.1GHz Core Solo ultra-low voltage processor, a 30GB hard drive, 512MB of memory, and it runs on Windows XP Pro. There is no internal optical drive. It is slated to ship in early July with a $1,800 suggested retail price.

“We’ve launched small notebooks before, but there was always some type of compromise. With this, there is no compromise,” Abary said.

The UX Micro also features Sony’s SmartWi technology allowing the user to toggle between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and WWAN networks like Cingular’s EDGE network. The device has two built-in cameras, one for VoIP and the other for straight digital photography. The three USB ports allow for attaching full-sized keyboards, monitors and speakers.