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Sony Debuts F-, Z-Series Notebooks, Green Netbook

Sony Electronics will show a revamped Vaio mobile computing line at International CES, including the company’s latest green effort and Blu-ray-equipped laptop.

All of Sony’s CES notebook introductions are based on Intel’s Capella processor architecture, the chip manufacturer’s latest line of mobile processors.

The environmentally friendly W-series netbook has a chassis made from recycled compact discs and comes with a carrying bag made of recycled plastic PET (Polyethylene Therephthalate) bottles, said Xavier Lawaert, Sony’s Vaio product marketing manager.

The W-series is being targeted at children 6 and older. It features a special Sony-created Web browser that has embedded parental controls and Norton’s Online Family software. It has a 10-inch HD display, 250GB hard drive, and an Intel Atom processor, and it runs the Microsoft Windows 7 Starter operating system.

The unit ships this month with a $479 suggested retail price.

Lawaert said Sony is considering taking this environmental approach further up its notebook line.

Sony entered the netbook business in July 2000 with the series W Crave. Lawaert said the company will focus on developing netbooks with 10-inch and smaller screen sizes, to keep in line with a Microsoft requirement for use of its netbook operating system software. In addition, Sony will limit its exposure to the netbook market by not allowing netbooks to comprise more than 20 percent of its laptop product mix, he said.

The latest introduction into Sony F series of entertainment laptops features a Blu-ray drive and a FullHD-capable display. The model has a 16.4-inch display and marks Sony’s transition away from using larger 17-inch and 18-inch displays in its notebooks, Lawaert said. The company feels these sizes are better suited for the all-in-one category.

It comes with a Blu-ray drive option, 1,080p display, an HDMI output, Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics card and Intel’s latest core i7 processor with four cores, Intel’s Turbo boost and HyperThreading.

The new F model sports a unique method of downloading images from select Sony Cybershot digital cameras. On the front left section of the wrist rest is the Transfer Jet Digital Near Field dock. The end user simply places the camera on top of the wrist rest; the camera and laptop sync up using near field technology, and the images are automatically transferred to the computer.

The F-series model will carry a $1,149 suggested retail, but Lawaert expects to see it promotionally priced at $999.

The newest member of the Vaio Z series is targeted at business users and students. The model only comes with a solid-state hard drive, up to 512GB, and runs on the Windows 7 Pro operating system. It uses an Intel ultra-low voltage processor and to extend batter life it automatically senses how the laptop is being used and adjusts itself to attain the best power setting.

It ships this month with a $1,830 suggested retail.

Lawaert said the unit comes with discrete and integrated graphics with the former kicking on when a graphically intense program is in use. When the user is doing something like email or document writing the laptop switches over the less power draining integrated graphics processor.

The unit comes with an HDMI out and an HD display.

There is an option for integrated 3G cellular, and Sony is working with Verizon as its carrier. Lawaert said 3G is not being included as a standard option due to pricing concerns.

The unit is not equipped with an optical drive, but as with its netbooks, the company has several external drives available. Sony is experiencing a healthy 20 percent sales attach rate for external optical drives, according to Lawaert.

Sony will also show a new Y-series model. The unit is targeted for the “on the go” customer. It weighs just more than 4 pounds, is 1.2 inches thick and has a 13.3-inch display. It uses an Intel Core 2 duo ultra-low-voltage processor and has 8GB of RAM. It will carry an $800 suggested retail and is now shipping.