Sony's new desktop, notebook Vaios made for DVD burning

Sony released details on several new Vaio desktop and notebook PCs targeted at home multimedia use Tuesday, hoping to boost its holiday-season sales amid a stagnant PC market.

Six new Vaio PCs were released to kick off the fourth quarter: two new notebooks, a new notebook series, and three new desktops, Sony said in a release. All the new PCs come with DVD-RW (DVD-rewritable) drives, and Sony's Click to DVD software, which allows consumers to choose from a variety of DVD burning options. Users can simply burn DVDs, or bring in digital still photos and music to create a multimedia presentation, Sony said.

PC manufacturers are latching onto recordable DVD technology as a way to boost a flat PC market. Business investment in PCs has not returned, so PC makers are trying to boost consumer sales through a plethora of multimedia features, analysts say.

Confusion over recording standards has caused problems among consumers, but Sony is playing both sides of the fence, releasing DVD-RW technology as it works with the DVD+RW Alliance.

Sony's summer line of PCs also focused on multimedia technologies for the consumer.

The three new desktop models feature some of Intel Corp.'s fastest Pentium 4 processors. The less expensive PCV-RX860 comes with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4, 512M bytes of DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), an 80G-byte hard drive, SIS651 integrated graphics, six USB (universal serial bus) 2.0 ports, and an IEEE 1394 (iLink or FireWire) port for video downloads for about $1,300.

The PCV-RZ14G adds a 2.53GHz Pentium 4, a 120G-byte hard drive and Nvidia Corp.'s GeForce4 graphics technology for about $1,700. The high-end PCV-RZ16G features most of the same specifications, but uses a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 and a total of 1G byte of DDR SDRAM for around $2,000. All three PCs run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP, and will be available in October.

For notebook users, Sony has added two new models, as well as a build-to-order notebook series. All three notebooks are the first models from Sony to use internal DVD-RW drives, it said. The PCG-GRX670 uses a 2GHz Intel Mobile Pentium 4-M processor, 512M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a removable 40G-byte hard drive, a lithium ion battery that provides up to 4.5 hours of battery life, and ATI Technologies Inc.'s Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics technology for about $2,500. The PCG-GRX690 also uses a 2GHz Mobile Pentium 4-M, but adds a removable 60G-byte hard drive for about $2,800.

Wireless 802.11b connectivity is optional on both notebooks, and each features one IEEE 1394 port and three USB ports. They weigh in at 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) with a single battery and measure 14 inches high (35.56 centimeters) by 11.5 inches deep (28.18 centimeters) by 1.8 inches (4.57 centimeters) high at the rear of the laptop.

A base configuration of the new NV200 series of notebooks comes with a 1.7GHz Mobile Pentium 4-M processor, 256M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a fixed 30G-byte hard drive, and a 4.5-hour lithium ion battery for $1,799. All three notebooks are available in October.

Also in the release, Sony announced the addition of an external DVD-RW drive to its lineup of products, so users of older Vaio models will be able to start burning DVDs on their notebooks. It will be available in October with the Click to DVD software, and two IEEE 1394 ports for about $600.

Rival notebook manufacturer Toshiba Corp. also announced this week it will sell DVD-recordable/RW drives for both notebooks and desktops. Pricing information was not available.

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Tom Krazit

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