Sony Introduces Its Lowest-Priced Notebook - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

Sony Introduces Its Lowest-Priced Notebook

The entry-level Vaio NR includes a 15.4-inch LCD screen and comes pre-installed with Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium.

Sony on Tuesday unveiled a $750 entry-level Vaio notebook, the lowest-priced laptop ever introduced by the consumer electronics company.

The new Vaio NR series focuses on digital entertainment. The series features a textured chassis with a fabric-like feel that Sony hopes potential customers will find "pleasing to the eye and cool to the touch."

The low-priced notebook represents a shift in market strategy for Sony. In the past, the company has charged a premium for its brand, differentiating itself from other PC makers through style and innovation. Conditions, however, have changed in today's market, Samir Bhavnani, an analyst for Current Analysis West, said. Companies like Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba are also offering stylish notebooks with the same features as the Vaio for less than $1,000.

"Typically, you don't see Sony offer systems for under $1,000," Bhavnani said. "But if Sony wants to enter more of a mass market, then it's going to have to compete with price."

Still, Sony isn't making a major push into the low-end notebook market. The Vaio NR series is basically one model with a couple of different options for processors, Bhavnani said. The system, however, gives Sony a competitive product for the holiday season.

Sony apparently learned from last year's Christmas season, when it offered low-priced notebooks for a couple of weeks, Bhavnani said. "They want to take the success they had during those one or two weeks and repeat it during the six or eight weeks of this season."

The slim Vaio NR series has rounded corners and beveled edges to make it easer to insert and remove from carrying cases. It also comes in three colors: a brown with copper accents; a bright white with a matte finish; and a silver hue with natural tones. Sony calls the finishes wenge, silk, and granite, respectively.

The notebooks sport a 15.4-inch LCD screen and come pre-installed with Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium. An Intel Core 2 Duo processor is available on select models. For wireless connectivity, the new PC supports Wi-Fi standards 802.11 a/b/g.

Features for entertainment include a DVD burner and a variety of connectivity options for transferring data from digital cameras, MP3 players, and other devices. Those connectivity options include four USB ports, and slots for an ExpressCard, SD card, and Memory Stick. The PC comes with a suite of software for importing, viewing, and cataloging digital images.

For people with Sony's LocationFree Base Station, the NR series has the required software to access content streamed from station-supported TVs, DVD players, digital video recorders, camcorders, and PCs.

Pricing for the Vaio NR series starts at $750. The new notebooks are scheduled for release next month and will be available online and through Sony's retail partners.

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