Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

Summary: One way to wean customers off of cheap netbooks is to offer a better alternative. Many computer makers are now offering ULV-based laptops.


One way to wean customers off of cheap netbooks is to offer a better alternative. Many computer makers are now offering ULV-based laptops. Another is to raise the price of netbooks. Both Sony and Nokia are planning to give this strategy a go. I've written about this before, and it still seems like a long shot.

According to reports from IFA in Berlin, Sony gave a preview this week of a new half-inch thick laptop, the Vaio X Series. Sony doesn't like to use the word "netbook"--they refer to the Vaio P Series as a "lifestyle PC" and don't even use the moniker with the new W Series, a straightforward 10.1-inch netbook that starts at $500. The X Series is no different; Sony says it is a replacement for the discontinued X505 subnotebook. But the prototype has an 11.1-inch display and uses an Intel Atom processor. (Engadget has an X Series hands-on and says the use of Atom is "far from decided").

Though Sony hasn't announced detailed specs or pricing, the company has said the X Series will cost "less than $2,000," which as far as I know would be a new high-water mark for an Atom-based laptop (even the P Series starts at $1,000). . There are two reasons why the company is hoping you'll pay a premium. First the carbon-fiber frame is not only extremely thin, but also lightweight. The X Series weighs an amazing 1.5 pounds. Second, Sony claims that the 31Whr battery will be sufficient for all-day computing when it launches with Windows 7 in October.

There's no doubt thin is in, but it seem like we may have reached a point of "thin enough" with laptops. The initial enthusiasm for Apple's MacBook Air has cooled considerably, and Apple has lowered the price to $1,499. And attempts to emulate Apple's ultra-thin aesthetic, such as Dell's Adamo and HP's Voodoo Envy--have flopped. At this price range, most laptop buyers will opt for a slightly thicker and heavier laptop that offers better performance and longer battery life. On top of this, Intel's ULV processors are lowering the price of ultra-thin. Acer's 11.6-inch Aspire 1410 may be twice the weight and thickness (3.1 pounds and 0.9 inches thick) of the X Series, but it has a faster processor than Atom, the 1.40GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500, and costs $450. Let's hope Sony switches to ULV and cuts the price before the X Series launches in late October.

Nokia is also steering clear of the word netbook. They refer to Booklet 3G as a "mini-laptop," but it's a netbook. The Booklet 3G will have a 10.1-inch display (1280x720), a 1.60GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, 1GB of memory, 120GB hard drive and Windows 7. Nokia says that the $810 price is likely to be heavily subsidized by wireless carriers--but that's still about twice the price of competing netbooks without similar or better specs without a wireless contract. In this case, Nokia is hoping wireless services and applications will justify the premium. The Booklet 3G will have a SIM card slot, a hefty battery good for up 12 hours, and features such as Assisted-GPS with Ovi Maps and an Ovi Suite (this new Nokia video doesn't shed much light on the Ovi Suite).

The trouble is, the hardware features will be easy for other computer makers to duplicate. And Nokia clearly still has lot of work to do before its Ovi Store and applications will be compelling for smartphone or laptop users. Nokia hasn't announced the release date.

Topics: Nokia, CXO, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Servers

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  • Good deal

    Well, they need a better display for sure!

  • RE: Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

    When Sony do something like release notebooks with a chiclet keyboard or release an ultra thin model it's often refered to as emulating some mac or other product but just to keep in mind this is a re-release of an older very thin model that goes all the way back to 2004, light hasn't exactly been forgotten either since then with models like the G series with it's carbon fibre chassis and any of the 11.1" business notebooks like the T series models. It's nice to see Sony dropping their price although I don't think cheap will ever be used to describe a Sony notebook. From what I hear though you can count on the X not shipping with an Atom. As for Nokia.. shame on you for not shipping an ARM based booklet running Symbian :)
    • It doesn`t have to be cheap, just a good price/performance ratio.

      Sony laptops already have a good price/performance/quality ratio.

      As for Symbian, hello, who wants that anymore?
      Maemo is the new thing, Symbian is going do die eventually. The Nokia N900 is already running Maemo.
  • Enough with the Atom processors already

    When operating on battery, everyone can understand that battery life and low heat is everything.

    But when plugged in, people want a more powerful GPU, something better than 1.3 Ghz, and certainly more than the stupid 1 gig ram the Intel chipset allows.

    I still don't understand why a GPU cannot be designed so that it seemlessly switches from a power-efficient GMA500 type operation to something more robust when operating on AC.

    All netbooks are an absolute turnoff when you see them at the store. They all look like little clones of each other. Pathetic.
    • Buy a desktop FFS, if you want performance.

      And a netbook for mobility.
      I have a laptop for mobility and i do "serious" work only on my desktop.
      • Given everybody wants to use winbloat, that's why people want the power.

        Maybe microsoft could come up with a competent operating system, one day...

        Not likely, it would cost too much and CHEAP profits are all they want.
        • Have a good advice for you guys!!!!!!!!!

          hi! there i am using microsoft windows 7 and it's
          impressive. If you wanna get the original one now.
          Go to this website.It was advised by my best
          friend and is cheaper.Have a nice day. Here is the
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  • RE: Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

    While Sony and Nokia fumble around with this, keep an eye
    out for Apple's rumored entry. My suspicion is that Apple's
    entry into the 'netbook', whatever you want to call it, market
    place will redefine it in much the same way the iPhone has
    redefined what a smartphone is.
    I'm just sayin'
    • What is apple going to bring to the netbook market?

      What could apple bring to the netbook market that would "redefine it"?
      Plus apple's already coming into the market with their iphone cause I
      speculate that most plp use netbooks to browse the web, and email and
      Iphone/Itouch does pretty well with the browsing part though only for
      light browsing though.
  • Trying to make a commodity that isn't one

    Well, these companies will have SOME success, but not
    enough to really impact the market or make a lot of
    money. There will always be a certain percentage of
    buyers willing to pay extra to be different or to save a
    couple of ounces. The problem is, the manufacturers of
    these niche products will never get the volumes high
    enough to drive the cost down to appeal to the average
    buyer. Desktops have been commodities for years and
    portables are largely there already. I will stick with
    the commodity versions. Good luck to them.
  • RE: Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

    At those prices you are better off getting a slightly larger Fujitsu lifebook with at 12.1 in screen, you will also get DVD writer. Netbooks are supposed to be light and cheap. Anything that is going to cost me more than $400 better come with a DVD drive.
  • Appeal of REAL netbooks is cheap price...

    $810?! They are back into the overpriced realm of the lame old ultraportables. Nobody bought ultraportables for a REASON. Seriously guys, a netbook should be CHEAP, small, and have great battery life. Two out of three doesn't count. You are heading the wrong direction. Be very ashamed!
  • "premium netbook"? Aren't those called "notebooks"?

    What's left to say...
  • RE: Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

    Nokia is a good operator with longterm strategy in ovi.

  • RE: Sony, Nokia plan premium netbooks

    It can not be much cheap. We can say it good price. or affordable but not cheapest one.
    But its true laptops prices are low was never before. here check some Sony, premium netbooks.