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Sony's home server stores 1 terabyte

Who needs that much? Anyone who wants to record a week's worth of TV shows.

TOKYO--A terabyte of storage sounds like something a missile base may need, but Sony has started selling a consumer device with that much room.

The Vaio Type X, which is available only in Japan, is a home server that contains four 250GB hard drives: two for PC files and two others for audiovisual materials such as stored TV programs and music. The machine, which costs about $5,000, also comes with seven TV tuners and a special interface that lets consumers see thumbnails of what they record.

Sony released the device at CEATEC, a large tech show taking place here this week.

The unusual configuration results from the vagaries of Japanese television. The country has seven network stations, and cable is not as common as in the United States. With Type X, people can record shows from all seven stations automatically and then delete what they don't want to watch.

The 500GB dedicated to TV is enough to record six channels for five-and-a-half days nonstop, a Sony representative said. The interface helps consumers sift through the morass. It lets customers look at thumbnails of all the programs recorded during the same time slot or search for a program by name. It also groups shows by categories--sports or children's programming, for example--selected by the owner.

A hard partition exists between the PC drives and the audiovisual drives; however, owners can manually slip a file from one side to the other.

Sony does not have plans to bring the device to the United States.

In related news, Sony released a new version of its all-in-one W computer. The new model has speakers jutting out from the sides, so it operates as a home stereo when not functioning as a PC. It is being released in Japan, and Sony will study whether conditions are right to bring another all-in-one PC to the United States.