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Sony Displaying Full PC Range During CES

Sony plans to show off a full range of computer products this week at International CES, including TV/PC combo units, and new displays with a special emphasis on how Vaio computers will integrate high-definition video editing.

Sony’s entire 2005 CES effort is centered around HDTV and how various Sony products come together to deliver HD content, said Todd Titera, Vaio product manager, with the Vaio team’s efforts spotlighting HD editing on high-end Vaio desktop and notebook computers.

The new Vaio V-Series is a two-unit line of all-in-one PCs with built-in TV functionality. Sony initially has two models in the line, one sporting a 20-inch LCD with a $2,699 street price, and a 17-inch version that will cost $1,999. The units will ship in late January. These Vaios are considered HD camcorder ready and are bundled with a suite of HD editing software that includes two key components: proxy file editing and smart rendering.

These enable PCs to quickly edit and create HD content. Proxy file editing creates a separate standard-definition data stream as the HD video is downloaded from the camcorder. Because the SD data is considerably “lighter” and easier for the PC to handle than its HD cousin, it is what the end user actually edits. When the changes are complete the computer recreates the end result in HD.

Smart rendering helps speed the process by only re-writing the edited parts of the video and leaving the untouched segments alone. This quickens the process by eliminating the need to rewrite the data-rich HD files.

Once written and edited, there are two ways to view the HD video: either through the PC, which is equipped with a DVI out, or through Sony’s newest RoomLink device. RoomLink is a media server connecting a PC to a home’s A/V system, but the new version has component video outputs enabling HD content from, say, a notebook computer, to be displayed on a HDTV.

The Vaio V Series is equipped with dual-format, double-layer DVD burners and Sony’s Motion Reality technology that allows a TV signal to bypass the PC and go directly through the TV tuner card and into the display. The computer’s multimedia functions are handled by Sony’s Vaio Zone software, which helps organize and access music, images, videos and TV programming. The units have DVR and an on-screen programming guide for recording shows.

Sony has not incorporated any HDTV technology into its PCs at this point, Titera said, because the HDTV desktop solutions are not up to Sony standards.

On the notebook side, Sony will show the Vaio FS Series notebook. These come in two basic configurations, the VGN-FS550 and VGN-FS570. The notebooks are being positioned as a “jack of all trades” device capable of delivering multimedia, mobility and performance at a mid-range price point.

The models are basically the same, weighing in at about 6 pounds and 1.5-inches thick. Also included is 802.11g wireless, DVD burners, 15.4-inch display, and Vaio Zone software, and each is HD camcorder-ready.

The VGN-FS550 ships in late January with a $1,699 street price. It is powered by an Intel Pentium M 730 processor with 80GB hard drive, 512MB of memory and a combo double-layer DVD+R/dual-format burner.

The VGN-FS570 ships at the same time with a $1,999 street price. It adds a slightly faster Pentium M 740 processor and has 1GB of memory.

Sony’s computer display exhibit will contain five new models, two geared toward gamers and three for more general use. Bob Stevens, Sony’s product manager for displays, said the company has developed a new industrial design that partially borrows from the line’s current “floating frame” look, but moves up and down in a different fashion. The major feature set change was the addition of Sony’s proprietary XBRITE LCD technology in the step-up and top-end models, which also added HDTV capability.

The MFM-75W and MFM-H95 are 17-inch and 19-inch models, respectively, with 1,280-by-1,024 screen resolution. Each features XBRITE technology, is HDTV compatible, has a built-in TV tuner, picture-in-picture DVI and Composite Video inputs, and SRS WOW audio technology for the three-piece bundled speaker system. The 17-inch SDM-HS75, SDM-HS75P and 19-inch SDM-HS95P incorporate the company’s new “rising design” concept that Sony says provides a seamless image from the bottom of the screen upward.

Pricing and shipping dates were not available at press time.