[Update 9/16: A page on the SonyStyle site referred to the AW series as having the "industry's first 18.4-inch extra-widescreen display." Sony says this statement should have referred to the FW series, which is the first 16.4-inch laptop on the market, as stated in the press release. The company is aware of other 18.4-inch models on the market, such as the Acer Aspire 8920G series, and did not intend to position the AW series as an industry-first.]
Sony bills its new AW series as the "industry's first" laptop with an 18.4-inch widescreen display. It is certainly one of the first, but that's not accurate. Acer beat them to the punch by nearly six months, and Toshiba's interesting Qosmio G50 series, which is now available in the U.S., also offers the bigger, badder display.
Most desktop replacement notebooks have 17-inch displays. From time to time, computer makers also experiment with much larger "transportables" such as the Dell XPS M2010 20-inch notebook, but these are curiosities. The new 18.4-inch models fall somewhere in the middle. The chief selling points are the display's 16:9 aspect ratio, and depending on the configuration, a true 1080p (1920x1080) resolution. As a result, Sony and others are pitching these for home theater, video editing, and digital photography.
The Sony AW series comes in several configurations ranging from $1,600 to more than $3,000. All of them include what Sony calls its XBRITE-FullHD display with a 1920x1080 resolution, but the Premium models also support the full Adobe RGB color space (16.7 million colors) and include Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The Sony AW comes standard with a Blu-ray drive; a Blu-ray burner is an extra $100. Though the base model has a 250GB drive, you can configure the AW series with up to a terabyte of storage ($450) or with dual 64GB SSDs and a 500GB drive for a total of 628GB for $900. The base VGN-AW190 model includes a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400, 2GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics with 512MB, and a 250GB hard drive. (You can see all Sony AW series configurations here.)
Acer's Aspire 8920G series was part of the company's Gemstone Blue launch in March. It has the same 18.4-inch 1920x1080 display, capable of displaying 16.7 million colors. The 8920G also has a Blu-ray drive, six speakers (Acer calls it True 5.1), and touch-capacitive media controls. The $2,500 AS8920-6671 configuration includes a 2.60GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9500, 4GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 9650M graphics with 512MB, and a 320GB hard drive. Acer also offers a configuration with a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T5750, 1680x945 display, and GeForce 9500M GS graphics with 512MB for around $1,100 but it's tough to find this model in stock.
Toshiba's Qosmio G50 series is one two models that include a separate co-processor, the Quad Core HD Processor SpursEngine, which is a derivative of the Cell processor developed by Sony, IBM, and Toshiba that is used in Sony's PlayStation 3. The co-processor boosts performance on video encoding and playback, image processing, and image recognition. The Qosmio G50 launched in Japan this summer, but is now available in the U.S. At one time, Toshiba used Qosmio to promote HD-DVD, but the format is dead, and the G55 instead includes a DVD SuperMulti drive. The $1,550 G55-Q802 includes an 18-4-inch TruBrite display with a resolution of 1680x945, 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 processor, 4GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics with 512MB, and a 500GB hard drive.
Reviews coverage of 18.4-inch laptops:
- CNET review: Acer Aspire 8920-6671
- Laptop Magazine review: Acer Aspire 8920G (AS8920-6671)
- PC Magazine review: Acer Aspire 8920G
- PC Magazine preview: Toshiba Qosmio G55-Q802