Last December, UK Vaio chief Nicolas Barendson told ZDNet UK that Sony wouldn't do netbooks in their current form factor, because such devices were in-between products that were neither pocketable nor large enough to substitute for a proper notebook.
Then, today, Sony took the wraps off the Vaio W-Series, which is a netbook in the current, generally accepted form factor. Same specs, same dimensions.
Naturally, we asked Sony what gives. Barendson replied, saying the W-Series "embodies the premise of existing netbooks on the market but maintains the Vaio brand's values and has a far superior screen experience and isolated keyboard".
"We believe that this screen resolution and design offers our customers a better experience, and that it will be popular with both newcomers to the netbook market looking for a quality portable PC at a netbook price point, and customers wanting to improve their existing netbook experience to date by upgrading their screens," Barendson wrote.
The W-Series' resolution is high for the current crop of netbooks, but not unheard-of. Ditto the keyboard – see the Eee PC 1000HE for a very similar implementation.
I'm sure the W-Series will be a very nice netbook and ideal for those looking to "buy in to the Vaio brand", as Barendson put it, but… it's a netbook.
One of those in-between products. No more, no less.
PS - We'd still like to know how much the netbook will cost in the UK. The US has a price - $499, but I'd be wary of direct conversions - so how come it would be "illegal" for Sony to say what the price would be here, as a spokesman helpfully told me earlier?