Sony showcases new Vaio line-up

Sony Corp. will unveil new models of its Vaio desktop and notebook PCs at Sony Dream World 2002, an event this weekend that will showcase its latest products and strategies .

The Vaio products, since they first appeared in 1997, have been focused on networking PCs with other electronic devices, such as digital still cameras, audio players and video recorders, and they will continue to do so, according to Keiji Kimura, president of Sony's Mobile Network Company.

Among the new line-up for this third quarter, Sony will roll out the PCNA-MR1 RoomLink, a home server, which networks Vaio PCs with televisions in the home. TV programs and recorded still images, video and audio that are stored on Vaio PCs can be viewed on a TV screen.

The company plans to release the PCNA-MR1 on Nov. 2 at around ¥25,000 (US$208) in Japan.

If the house is equipped with a wireless LAN access point, RoomLink can also receive data via a 5GHz IEEE802.11a wireless LAN converter, the PCWA-DE50, which will be released on Oct. 26 at around ¥25,000 in Japan. It offers up to 54M bps (bits per second) data transfer.

Other products for the new Vaio line-up include the desktop HS and RZ series, Sony said. All of the new HS models will be equipped with an embedded video camera and a TV recording function, and all of the new RZ models will be equipped with a DVD-R/RW drive from Oct. 26 onwards.

This year's best-selling Vaio models, the desktop W series and the notebook U series, according to the company, will have new models, too.

The Vaio W range, which features an all-in-one compact design allowing the keyboard to be folded up to the display, will now include the PCV-W102 with a 15.3-inch wide LCD (liquid crystal display) and a remote control. It will be available on Sept. 28 at around ¥190,000.

The PCG-U3 is a new Vaio U model that changes the way the device is held. It allows the user to operate the notebook PC while holding it with both hands. A click button is located at the upper left side of the keyboard, so that the left hand can click, while the right hand can drag a cursor by using a dragging ball located at the upper right side.

The PCG-U3 is expected to be out on Oct. 26 at around ¥150,000.

Sony also unveiled two conceptual Vaio models, known for now as the Content Egg and the E.Q.

The former, a flat egg-shaped device, is a "personal server" that stores a user's important or favorite data. The company hopes this Content Egg will be able to send data to a notebook PC on the move, via the Internet, whenever and wherever the user requests it.

Vaio E.Q is a compact hexagon-shaped "sensing computer," which stores data such as still images and voice memos, gradually learns its user's thoughts, experiences and interests, and eventually starts providing the user with relevant advice. It can therefore remind users of interactions they have previously had with other people, the details of which the user may have forgotten.

Both Vaio Contents Egg and Vaio E.Q are at a research and development stage, and the company hopes to commercialize them in 2004, Sony said.

Sony Dream World 2002 runs from Saturday to Sunday at Pacifico Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, outside Tokyo.

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Kuriko Miyake

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