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Sony Unveils Pricey Netbook

The Vaio P Series Lifestyle PC is small enough to slip into a jacket pocket or handbag, while still delivering full PC functionality.

Sony Vaio P Series Netbook
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Sony Vaio P Series Netbook
The netbook incorporates built-in support for wireless carriers' 3G broadband networks, as well as for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Sony introduced an expensive 8-inch netbook that the company claims is the lightest in the market at 1.4 pounds.

In addition, the Vaio P Series Lifestyle PC, unveiled Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is about the size of a business envelope and as thin as a cell phone. As a result, the device is small enough to slip into a jacket pocket or handbag, while still delivering full PC functionality.

However, all this compactness comes at a price. While netbooks today cost as little as $300, Sony plans to offer its product through its stores this month for about $900. The netbook will be available at other major retailers in the United States in February.

Features of the Vaio P Series include an 8-inch display that has a light-emitting diode backlight for more vivid colors than a standard LCD screen. The display has a resolution of 1,600 by 768 pixels and is "ultrawide" to avoid side-to-side scrolling when viewing spreadsheets, Web pages, and other content.

The netbook incorporates built-in support for wireless carriers' 3G broadband networks, as well as for 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Users can toggle among the various wireless options for the best connection. The Vaio P Series also includes a built-in Webcam and a GPS system and maps of the United States and Canada.

The system runs Windows Vista, but has an instant-on option that launches directly into Sony's Xross Media Bar interface, which provides access to music, video, photos, and the Web.

The device is powered by an Intel Atom processor and comes with 2 GB of memory and a 60-GB hard disk drive. An optional 128-GB solid-state drive is available.

Sony claims the device gets up to four hours of battery life with its standard battery and up to eight hours with an optional large-capacity battery.

In releasing the Vaio P Series, Sony apparently believes there's an underserved high end of the netbook market. Netbooks are defined as laptops of 10 inches or less that run full operating systems, usually Linux or Windows XP.

Sales have been growing rapidly, primarily because of the low price of the devices, which offer basic PC functionality, such as e-mail and Web access, analysts say. Netbooks in general cost less than $500, with many models available for as little as $300. It remains to be seen whether Sony will find a market for a $900 device during the current economic recession.

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