And now for something completely different, from Sony of all people. While the trend in laptops has been to lose once-essential components like an optical drive and even discrete graphics in the desire to stay thin and light, Sony Insider says the electronics giant is thinking of a new way to keep those parts around -- just in a different way.
Sony appears to be returning to an old chestnut for its Vaio Hybrid PC. As its name suggests, the rumored notebook would consist of two elements -- a very lightweight main unit that will weigh around 2.5 pounds and contain an Intel Core i7 processor, SSD drive, and an Intel Thunderbolt connection like the new Apple MacBook Pros. That Thunderbolt port would presumably attach to a second unit that includes more connectivity (HDMI, USB, VGA, etc.), a Blu-ray burner, and an external graphics card that's listed as an "AMD Whistler-XT", which would be either a Radeon HD 6730M or Radeon HD 6770M. This second unit would weigh 1.5 pounds.
External graphics solutions for laptops have been rolled out a number of times before, but never reaching anything approaching critical mass. An external optical drive has been a stable of ultraportables in the past, but the MacBook Air and competitors have dropped it as need for it wanes. All of which begs the question: Why would Sony think it's a viable concept to try to dust off these ideas for a notebook circa 2011?
Presumably, we'll find out more as the Vaio Hybrid moves close to its supposed summer release date -- maybe it has another trick or two up its sleeve. But these days, more people may be interested in the fact that Sony is also working on a laptop based on the Google Cr-48 spec and running the Chrome OS via an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. Which one would you be more interested in buying?