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Sony continues portable push

Sony Electronics introduced more new portables, adding to its recently announced line of ultraslim notebooks.

NEW YORK--Sony Electronics introduced more new portables, adding to its recently announced line of ultraslim notebooks.

At PC Expo in New York, Sony introduced the Vaio 505GX SuperSlim notebook, in addition to the already announced 505G. The 505GX features a 266-MHz Pentium MMX processor, a 2.1GB hard drive, a built-in 33.6-kbps modem, and 10.4-inch active matrix screen for $2,699.

Sony also announced two new models in existing series. Last month, Sony introduced the 500 and 800 series models in its line of Vaio notebooks.

The new three-pound notebooks continue the blurring of the line between full-fledged notebook PCs and handheld PCs. While the ultraportable notebooks are shrinking in size and weight, 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 while keeping weight down to three pounds.

The 505G 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, for a cost of $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 announced 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 further said it is expanding 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.