Picture this: New Sony PC records TV shows

Sony Electronics has unveiled a new Vaio PC that can receive and record television.

Sony Electronics has unveiled a new Vaio PC that can receive and record television.

The new Vaio Digital Studio PCV-RX490TV includes digital video recorder technology and a DVD-rewritable drive. These features will allow people to watch shows on a PC monitor or a TV set and record them to a hard drive or DVD-RW disc as if they were recording to a VCR tape.

IDC analyst Roger Kay said the new unit targets PC enthusiasts and is typical of Sony's strategy to address the PC market with high-end features, which has worked well for the company in the past.

"Sony has colonized the high end of the PC market and, surprisingly, they are selling more high-end products than low end," Kay said. "They've been trying to get into the U.S. market for some time, and they are having better success with this strategy than any other."

Sony's notebooks have sold well under a similar strategy of targeting the high-end market.

The company's share of the retail PC market has been growing, Kay said, but Sony is still a niche player in the United States.

Digital video recorder technology has been hyped in the United States recently, but analysts have said the service cannot stand on its own and needs to be surrounded by other features to gain acceptance by consumers.

A number of companies besides Sony are already doing just that.

Microsoft has made digital video recorder technology the centerpiece of its UltimateTV service, which also offers Web surfing, e-mail and satellite TV.

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo is also working with manufacturers to incorporate its service into interactive TV set-top boxes that will allow people to surf the Net, handle e-mail and make online purchases.

Unlike other companies, Sony will not charge a monthly fee for its DVR service.

Sony desktop PCs sold in Japan have included the digital video recorder technology for two years, Sony spokesman Matt Brady said.

The new PC will feature a 1.7GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 128MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive and an integrated modem. It will hit store shelves in June for $2,599. A monitor is not included.

On Wednesday, the consumer electronics giant unveiled the Vaio PCG-C1VP PictureBook with Transmeta's Crusoe processor. The PictureBook is the second notebook with a Transmeta processor that Sony will sell in the United States.