Sony updates slim entertainment Vaio desktop

Watching movies or television on a conventional PC is not the most comfortable activity, but Sony Electronics is trying to make it easier to keep a PC in the living room with an updated Vaio desktop model designed for small spaces.

Most desktop PCs are too large to fit in conventional entertainment centers or on top of televisions, but the Vaio PCV-W500GN1 is small enough to be used amid a television, stereo, cable box, or other common media devices, Sony said in a release Tuesday. It takes up less space than a 15-inch CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor, the company said.

Sony released the Vaio W series in 2002, and the PCs have enjoyed a great deal of attention from consumers in Japan and around the world. The new Vaio W comes with enhanced components and features, such as a PVR (personal video recorder) and DVD recorder.

The PC comes with a multihinged keyboard that can assume different positions. For example, when watching television or movies on the 17.5-inch widescreen LCD (liquid crystal display), the keyboard can be folded in half to cover the keys. The display goes to maximum brightness and the color is enhanced to boost the TV viewing experience when the keyboard is folded into this position, Sony said.

To use the new Vaio PC like a stereo, the keyboard can fold up completely, reducing the depth of the PC in half. The speakers mounted on the bottom of the keyboard are completely exposed in this position, which covers just about all of the LCD display except for a small portion that features a clock.

Three USB (universal serial bus) 2.0 ports and a IEEE 1394 video port are located on the side of the rear chassis for easy peripheral connections. The chassis sits behind the LCD screen, and is hidden from view when looking directly at the display. The entire package measures 20.4 inches wide by 12.1 inches high by 15.2 inches deep (51.8cm by 30.7cm by 38.6cm) with the keyboard open. The unit measures only 7.4 inches wide (18.8cm) with the keyboard folded up in the audio position.

The new Vaio comes in a fixed configuration with a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 processor from Intel Corp., 512M bytes of PC2700 (333MHz) DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 160G-byte hard drive, a DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, integrated graphics from Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SIS), and Sony's Giga Pocket PVR software. A remote control is also included.

It comes with Microsoft's Windows XP Home operating system. Several vendors, including Hewlett-Packard and Gateway, have released media-oriented PCs based around Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system, but Sony stuck with the basic version of Windows XP for this Vaio.

Sony expects to release the new Vaio desktop to select retailers and through its Web site (http://www.sonystyle.com) next month. It is expected to cost around US$2,000, a spokeswoman said.

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