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Sony loads up ultralight notebooks

The company unveils a trio of ultralight notebooks with bigger hard drives and faster processors than their predecessors.

Sony unveiled on Monday a trio of ultralight notebooks with bigger hard drives and faster processors than their predecessors.

The models are additions to the Vaio R505 lineup, which has been a retail success for Sony. Prices for the notebooks, which weigh 3.75 pounds and are 1-inch thick, range between $1,599 and $2,599.

The Vaio R505JS features an 850MHz Intel Pentium III, a 12.1-inch screen, 256MB of RAM and a 30GB hard drive. The $2,599 notebook also includes a docking station with a CD-rewritable/DVD combo drive.

The Vaio R505JE offers the same processor and screen but excludes the drive. With 128MB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive, it costs $1,899.

Meanwhile, the new R505JL offers a 750MHz Pentium III, a 12.1-inch screen, 128MB of RAM and a 15GB hard drive. For its $1,599 price tag, the machine also includes a docking station with a DVD drive.

The R505JS and R505JE come with a mail-in rebate for a free Vaio wireless LAN card, which normally costs $149.

The new R505 notebooks, which will come with either Windows 2000 or Windows XP, will ship next month.

Sony has traditionally been a strong player in the retail PC market, but the company is also making an effort to sell Vaio notebooks to small and medium-sized business. The company recently inked an agreement with TechData, a distributor associated with those markets.

On Monday, Sony also launched six new full-sized notebooks and split its FX Series into two parts. Sony's new FXA series notebooks will offer Advanced Micro Devices processors. Its FX series will feature Intel chips.

Sony's FXA36, for example, offers a 1GHz AMD Athlon 4, a 15-inch screen and a CD-RW/DVD combo drive for $1,800.