Sony reveals Vaio makeover

The consumer-electronics firm has added a raft of new products to its Vaio computer line, in an attempt to claw back market share.
Written by Kyoko Fujimoto, Contributor
update Sony on Monday revamped its Vaio computer line, expanding its scope and adding more than new products.

Included are a new portable hard drive-based music player, the world's smallest Windows XP PC, and some new PCs with enhanced AV functions. Also the company revealed the development of a hard-disk recorder with more than terabyte storage capacity.

The Japanese electronics giant, whose overall business had been struggling in recent years, saw the decline of its Vaio PC line and decided to refocus it. By rebranding the Vaio business as "Do Vaio", the company hopes not only to compete with offerings from other Japanese PC and consumer electronics rivals, but also to attack presumed enemies such as Apple Computer's iPod music player and Microsoft's Media Center PC operating system. Here are some of the company's new releases:

•  "Do Vaio"--a new interface for multimedia operation Sony incorporated a new interface for multimedia operation called "Do Vaio" into almost all of its notebook and desktop PCs. The company described it as a "brand-new, intuitive operational mode" but, at a glance, it looks very similar to the one that's already included in its PSX game console-DVR hybrid. It can handle a variety of media files such as live/recorded TV programs, music, photos, and CD/DVD. It can be operated via remote control as well as using conventional PC inputs such as keyboard and mouse.

•  " Vaio pocket"--the "iPod Killer" It looks like a strong competitor to Apple's iPod music player, with a storage capacity of about 13,000 songs in a 20GB hard disk. The music player can handle tunes in MP3, WMA, WAV formats, as well as ATRAC3, which is the company's proprietary format. The music can be transferred from Windows PC via USB. It can continually run for 20 hours. Other than holding and playing music, the portable device connects to a digital camera and can display photos on its 2.2-inch QVGA color screen.

•  "type U"--The world's smallest Windows XP-enabled PC Despite its small contour--167mm (width) by 108mm (height) by 26.4mm (depth)--and weight of 550g, the tablet-like PC features Intel's ultra-low voltage Celeron M 900 MHz processor and can run Microsoft's Windows XP operating system. It is designed to be manipulated with both hands (just like some portable game devices). With its small LCD (5-inch SVGA), the device can be operated by stylus as well as by built-in buttons and cursor. A detachable keyboard is also an option. It has 64MB video memory, allowing users to connect to a full-size display.

•  "type V"--the advanced TV/DVR with PC functions While Microsoft aims to conquer the living room by add TV/DVR functions to PC, Sony appears to be attempting to reach the same destination from the opposite direction. From the outside, "type V" looks just like a LCD TV monitor (with a variety of 20-, 17-, and 15-inch screens), and it sports some advanced components, such as a newly developed MPEG hardware encoder and Sony's proprietary "Motion Reality" video processor. However, it incorporates HDD/DVD recording functions, with as much as 160GB of storage capacity (enough to hold 103 hours of TV programs) and iEPG TV guidance capability. The machine itself runs on an Intel Celeron chip with Windows XP, and can be operated via remote control as well as by wireless keyboard and mouse.

•  "type X"--a concept model for future PC The machine is still under development but Sony said it will feature more than 1 terabyte of storage with up to seven TV tuners.

CNET Japan's Kyoko Fujimoto reported from Tokyo.

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