Sony unveils four new VAIO lines

Sony launched the VAIO FW, VAIO Z, VAIO SZ, and VAIO BZ series laptops to coincide with Intel's Centrino 2 launch.

Check out that 16:9 aspect ratio CNET Networks

Not one to be left out of the Centrino 2 fun, Sony released details about its newest VAIO laptops on Monday evening. The announcement included multiple configurations within four lines: the 16.4-inch VAIO FW, the 13.3-inch VAIO SR, the 13.1-inch VAIO Z, and the 15.4-inch VAIO BZ.

Among the new systems, the VAIO FW certainly wins the award for novelty. Its 16.4-inch display is still somewhat unusual, though thanks to a push from display manufacturers we expect to see more laptops in this size going forward. The screen provides the 16:9 aspect ratio that's perfect for playing HD content from the optional Blu-ray drive (there's also HDMI-out if you prefer to watch on an HDTV). Even with the larger screen, the VAIO FW weighs just over 6 pounds, about the same as the 15.4-inch VAIO FZ series. Models in the VAIO FW series will be available later this month at prices starting at $1,000; we've posted a full review of the Blu-ray-less VAIO FW140 ($1,150).

Available in five colors (including two shades of pink), the VAIO SR series features a 13.3-inch backlit-LED display and weighs just over 4 pounds. This strictly consumer line incorporates a Webcam and microphone as well as hard drive shock protection. Pricing starts at $1,400, and configurations will be available at the end of the month.

The 13.1-inch VAIO Z series is the ultraportable of the bunch; its carbon-fiber case weighs just over 3 pounds. As might be expected from a laptop for road warriors, the VAIO Z features hard drive shock protection, a fingerprint reader, Trusted Platform Module, and a password-protected hard drive. Less expected for such a small machine are the Blu-ray drive and HDMI-out port. A 128GB solid-state drive and WWAN round out the available options. Pricing for the VAIO Z series starts at $1,800 (solid-state versions start at $2,300) with expected availability in August.

Finally, for the mainstream business user, Sony announced the 15.4-inch VAIO BZ. Weighing in just under 6 pounds, the VAIO BZ series includes such business-friendly features as hard drive shock protection, a spill-resistant keyboard, and a magnesium-alloy case. It's also the only VAIO announced today to incorporate Intel's vPro management software and ship with Sony's small-business-focused VAIO Care support package. The VAIO BZ series will become available later this month, with prices starting at $1,000.

Full specs and more details are available at the company's Web site.

About the author

    Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.


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