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Sony revs up tour bus for Vaio shows

The company will launch a series of demos of its Vaio products in retail stores next week in an effort to home in on how to pull in new buyers for its consumer electronics.

Sony Electronics will launch product demonstrations in its retail stores next week, in an effort to better focus its continual search for consumer-electronics buyers.

The "Experience Vaio Life" demos are designed to let consumers see how computers, handhelds, digital imaging devices and photo printers can be connected and used with one another. The weeklong promotional tour is scheduled to begin Saturday in New York and will travel to Chicago and San Francisco. Sony is also expected to unveil its fall PC lineup, along with several new software applications, this Tuesday. The new PCs and software will be included in the demos.

"We want to show customers how existing and new products work and how they can all work together," said Martin Weinstein, product manager for Sony's desktop Vaio group. "It's not just about ease of use, it'll also be about content management and creation."

Weinstein said Sony will re-emphasize home networking, DVD-burning and wireless capabilities and will highlight its digital video recording feature, Gigapocket.

The tour comes at the start of the traditionally robust holiday sales season, which many fear may be lackluster this year. PC makers have been souping up their holiday offerings with high-end features to better compete for the lean pickings.

Weinstein called the "Experience Vaio Life" tour an experiment. The company, he said, will collect feedback from customers and use it to help in expanding in-store promotional efforts with key retail partners.

Similar events could begin in other stores in the fourth quarter as part of an aggressive campaign by Sony to address different types of consumers. A blitz of television and print ads is set to begin Monday, the company said, and will address specific target audiences, such as Generation Y, SOHO (small office, home office) and "empty-nested baby boomers."