Sony creates Pentium III VAIO notebook

By Gopika Vaidya, IDG News Service |  Hardware

SONY ELECTRONICS IS trying to expand the audience for its new notebook announced Thursday, the VAIO SR17, by including software and features that will appeal to both consumers and business users.

As well as including standard Internet capabilities, Sony said the notebook lets users create their own digital home movie and even "video e-mail" by organizing digital images and video clips, and inserting customized text and audio.

The 2.98-pound, one-inch thick VAIO SR17 has a 750MHz Intel Pentium III processor with SpeedStep technology, 20GB hard drive and 128MB of SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory). Priced at approximately $2,500, the system is available now in the United States and in parts of Europe and Asia , a spokeswoman for Sony said.

Buyers can choose between the consumer-focused Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition operating system (PCG-SR17) or the business-oriented Windows 2000 Professional operating system (PCG-SR17K), Sony said.

"The previous model, VAIO SR7K, was available only with Windows 2000 and catered primarily to business users." said Mike Abary, senior product marketing manager at Sony Electronics. "Because of the popularity of the old model, we wanted to expand the target customer to a consumer set. That's why we introduced the VAIO SR17 with the Windows Millennium Edition."

One analyst took a dim view of the product and of Sony's attempts to target business users in general. "I don't recommend any Sony products (to business users) because they don't have the infrastructure to match a Dell or a Toshiba or a Compaq," said Ken Dulaney, vice president mobile computing at Gartner. "Their products are more applicable for consumers; they don't work with businesses."

Dulaney said another disadvantage to the VAIO SR17 was its size. "It's too small." he said. "They'll build something for Japan and bring it here and it doesn't do well. I'd rather go for a machine with a bigger screen."

The VAIO SR17 has a 10.4-inch (1024 x 768) XGA (eXtended Graphics Array) TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen with XBRITE polysilicon technology and built-in stereo speakers.

The notebook is fitted with a dedicated MagicGate Memory Stick media slot that is SDMI (Secure Digital Music Initiative) compliant. "This allows the consumer to download audio files and store them on the Memory Stick." Abary said. "For example, you can download music by Ricky Martin, store it on the Memory Stick, and play it back on your Memory Stick walkman."

Gopika Vaidya is Boston-based editorial assistant for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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