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Vaio Team Goes For The Living Room

New York — The Sony Vaio PC team rolled out the XL1 Digital Living System, a Media Center PC combined with a 200-disc CD/DVD changer/recorder.

The XL1 features a special Sony version of Microsoft’s Media Center Edition 2005 operating system. The unit, which will be available in both fixed and build-to-order configurations, will ship in November with a $2,300 suggested retail price. The XL1 is slated to sell through mainstream CE and PC retailers; however, at launch, the model will be restricted to stores best suited toward selling this type of solution.

“We believe this is a category creator,” said Mike Abary, Sony’s Vaio marketing VP.

The XL1 was the culmination of Sony’s attempt to combine the different methods consumers use to get content into their home, TV programming, broadband, CDs and DVDs, said Mark Hanson, Sony’s VP for Vaio America, adding that the device’s concept should end the argument over whether a CE or PC product should dominate in the living room.

Sony’s unique version of MCE 2005 differs from the mainstream variety by being adapted to handle the CD/DVD changer recorder and its stored content. Instead of the Play DVD feature the XL1 MCE 2005 interface has My DVD. Hanson said the XL1 recognizes when a new CD or DVD movie is installed and then goes through the PC onto the Web to download the movie’s metadata and creates an onscreen guide that is viewed through the My DVD icon.

The changer has the ability to rip the CDs or DVDs to an integrated 200GB hard drive; however, Sony believes most people will end up storing their music on the CDs and keep the DVDs in the changer. The base XL1 model comes with two empty hard drive bays that when filled gives the unit over 1TB of internal storage, plus external drives can be added via the USB and Firewire ports.

The PVR/recorder function Sony calls Archiving TV, which allows programming to be burned directly to blank DVD media to help conserve hard drive space and the unit, prompts the user when more blank media is needed.

The PC is based on a 2.8GHz Intel Pentium D 820 processor with 512MB of memory, expandable to 2GB, and NVIDIA GeForce 6200 graphics card, an NTSC TV tuner and Ethernet and 802.11g networking.