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Sony's updated laptop line

Sony updates laptop line with Penryn chips

Sony doesn't sell as many laptops as, say, Dell or HP, instead focusing on high-end systems that are among the slickest-looking out there. While they offer pretty much the same parts as the competition (usually for somewhat inflated prices), we rarely get as many comments or stares from onlookers as when we're carrying around a Vaio laptop.

Sony isn't starting off this year with any radical new designs (in fact these system look identical to the current versions), but is instead offering up some well-timed updates to its current line, adding the latest Intel Penryn processors and even more SSD hard drives.

Sony Vaio TZ298N/X

The 17-inch Vaio VGN-AR790U has a 1,920x1,200 resolution, a high-end 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 CPU, Blu-ray, and an external TV tuner for $3,300. Sony is taking online preorders starting January 7.

The 15-inch Vaio VGN-FZ485U/B has another of the new Intel CPUs, the 2.1GHz T8100, 4GB of RAM, a Blu-ray drive (and an HDMI output for sending that hi-def signal to a bigger screen), and Nvidia's GeForce 8400. It's going to be available for preorder January 7 for $2,200.

The ultraportable 11-inch Vaio VGN-TZ298N/X has a thin LED backlit display and an ultralow power non-Penryn U7700 CPU. It combines a 250GB hard drive with a 64GB solid state drive, plus wireless broadband and a carbon fiber chassis that weighs just 2.65lbs. It's a whopping $3,600, and available for preorder on January 7.

Finally, the 13-inch Vaio VGN-SZ791N/X takes on the popular 13-inch MacBook with an LED backlit display and T9300 Intel Penryn CPU, plus wireless broadband and Nvidia's GeForce 8400 GPU. It's $2,500, and available for preorder January 7.

We're pleased to see Sony jumping on the Penryn bandwagon right away, and nobody makes better boutique laptops, especially in the ultraportable category. Hopefully these "preorders" will turn into actual shipping systems sooner rather than later, and we'll keep you updated on street dates for these.