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Sony PC doubles as TV

Latest Vaio desktop line includes PC that lets users watch their favorite TV show and send e-mail on the same box. Photo: The switch-hitting Vaio V

Sony is merging the television and the personal computer in its latest Vaio desktop.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday, the electronics giant unveiled the Vaio V TV PC, an all-in-one desktop that combines the attributes of past PC models such as the Vaio W--a desktop based around a flat-panel display--with the company's Wega LCD-screen television line.

The resulting PC-plus-television Vaio V will allow people to watch television or view DVD movies on a 20-inch widescreen TV--as well as record a TV program or burn a DVD--before switching to more traditional PC tasks such as writing e-mail. The sleek Vaio V--which has a black bezel and hides its drive and wires--continues Sony's practice of attempting to wow consumers with product design. The Vaio V TV PC will go on sale at retail in February, Sony said in a statement. The company is already offering the machines on its SonyStyle Web site.

But having it all comes at a price. The Vaio VGC-V520G model, which incorporates a 20-inch widescreen, costs about $2,600; a 17-inch VGC-517G model costs about $2,000. For the same amount of money, consumers can purchase a 21-inch Sony Wega LCD-screen TV, which sells for about $1,500 at retail, and have money left over for a top-of-the-line Vaio desktop.

Sony says it believes the Vaio V's relatively compact size--with a 20-inch screen it's about 22 inches wide, 17 inches high and just over 11 inches deep--combined with its looks will appeal to many consumers. The product comes with a wireless keyboard and a remote control.

"The V is perfect for people who want a TV, DVD player, PC, personal video recorder, stereo and more in a room that will fit only one component," Mike Abary, general manager of VAIO product marketing for Sony Electronics, said in a statement.

The Vaio V VCG-V520G comes with a 20-inch WGXA or 1,280 by 768 pixel resolution LCD-screen, a 3.2GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 250GB, 7,200 rpm hard drive, a DVD burner and a DVD-ROM for $2,599. Sony also added its Gigapocket personal video recorder, Wi-Fi 802.11b and 802.11g and a Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5700 graphics board with 128MB of video memory to the Vaio model, according to the SonyStyle Web site.

The 17-inch screen V series VCG-V517G includes a 17-inch WXGA LCD screen, a 3GHz Pentium 4, 512MB of RAM and a DVD burner for $1,999. It's otherwise similar to the V520G. Sony is also offering a 15-inch Vaio V300G model for $1,549, according to the SonyStyle Site.

With spring coming, Sony refreshed several other Vaio desktop and notebook PC lines with new models that will start to appear this month. The company, which sells PCs directly to customers via the SonyStyle site, as well as at retail, has posted information about some of the new models online and begun taking orders.

Its new Vaio A-Series notebooks, for one, will come with a range of screen sizes up to 17 inches, hard drives up to 100GB. Prices will range from $1,149 to nearly $2,999.

New Vaio RB-Series desktops will start out at between $599 and $899 and will offer Intel Pentium 4 processors along with DVD burners, according to SonyStyle.

Two more forthcoming Vaio model lines include the lightweight Vaio FS-Series, a notebook line that will offer 15.4-inch screens and wireless networking and will cost around $1,600, Sony said in a statement. A new top-of-the-line Vaio RA desktop series will come standard with dual hard drives. Some Vaio RA desktops will cost just short of $3,000, the company said in a statement.