Forget Sony's CES protestations that it wasn't interested in doing a Netbook. Forget, even, the impressively overreaching Vaio P ("Don't call it a Netbook!") Lifestyle PC. Sony has finally caved to market demand and is introducing what the company calls, "a chic new line of mini notebooks."
The Sony Vaio W is a 10.1-inch Netbook, with an Intel Atom N280 CPU, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP, and a 160GB hard drive--all fairly common specs for the category. But many laptops with similar specs run $299-$399, while Sony says the Vaio W "will retail for about $500." How does it justify that hefty premium?
It's a gamble, but Sony is attempting to do what many Netbook makers wish they could do--introduce a higher-priced "premium" version of a Netbook. To that end, the Vaio W packs in a higher-resolution screen at 1,366x768. There's also 802.11n Wi-Fi, a separate Memory Stick slot (on top of the standard SD card slot), Bluetooth, and Sony's typical fit and finish, which usually includes excellent keyboards and touchpads.
Sony's proprietary media software should also help the system connect to other DLNA devices easily, including the PlayStation 3.
The Vaio W is 1.3 inches thick, weighs 2.6 pounds, and will come in three colors--berry pink, sugar white, and cocoa brown. If that would make for an awkward conversation with a retail store clerk, you can probably just ask for it in plain old pink, white, or brown, and they'd be able to figure it out. The system is available for pre-order from Sony starting Tuesday, and should be arriving in retail stores sometime next month.
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