Next week, Sony Electronics will introduce a three-pound notebook at an aggressive price point, a combination which could hit the sweet spot for subnotebooks.
Sony will introduce new 500 and 800 series models in its line of Vaio notebooks, as well as two new models in existing series, according to sources close to the company. Shipments will not begin until the June-July time frame.
The new three-pound notebook further blurs the line between full-fledged notebook PCs and handheld PCs. While the ultraportable notebooks continue to shrink in size and weight, conversely, the size of new handheld computers running Windows CE is swelling.
But Sony may be coming close to finding the best balance of size and features. The Vaio notebook has a highly usable keyboard and a relatively large screen but keeps weight down to three pounds.
The 505G notebook, a full-blown Windows 95 notebook, will feature a 200-MHz Pentium MMX processor, a 2.1GB hard drive, 32MB of memory, and a 10.4-inch active-matrix LCD screen.
It will ship in July for $1,999.
Competing ultralight notebooks usually carry a heavy price premium. For example, Hewlett-Packard's ultralight notebooks, such as the OmniBook 800CT, are usually priced above $3,000. Hewlett Packard's Sojourn and the Mitsubishi Pedion are also ultrathin and ultralight but are priced at a whopping $6,000.
At the high end, Sony will ship a slightly larger, more standard thin notebook design, the Vaio PCG-808. This will be Sony's first notebook to offer Intel's new Pentium II processor for notebooks. The 266-MHz machine will feature a 4GB hard drive, 64MB of memory, and a 13.3-inch active-matrix LCD screen. The PCG-808, which measures 1.5 inches thick, will also ship in July, with an estimated retail price of $3,699.
Sony will also expand its PCG-700 series this summer with the introduction of the PCG-731 and PCG-735. The PCG-731 features a 200-MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32MB of memory, a 2.1GB hard drive, and 12.1-inch display for $1,799.
The PCG-735 features a 233-MHz Pentium processor and 64MB of memory for $2,199.
As a sales hook, Sony is offering 90 days of free Internet access to Vaio customers.