The Japanese company plans to unveil its popular Vaio W all-in-one desktop--previously available only in Japan--to consumers in the United States, according to sources. The machine joins Sony's newof multimedia-oriented Vaio desktops.
The Vaio W is a small PC that incorporates a keyboard that flips up to create more desk space, covering half of the W's 15-inch, horizontally mounted screen. The portion of the screen that remains visible can display either a clock or a music menu. Similar to Gateway's new, the Vaio W's internal components, such as its processor, are mounted behind the screen.
The W has been a favorite of Japan consumers since its introduction there last February, according to local publications. Analysts say the PC's original look just might go over well in the United States. As many PC makers will concentrate onand new features to attract buyers this holiday season, Sony's style splash might turn some heads.
"The biggest issue for the fourth quarter is going to be getting attention," said Steve Baker, analyst with NPD Techworld. Manufacturers "need to find meaningful ways to differentiate products. One of the ways--that Apple has taught everyone--is that a product can be meaningful if it looks cool."
The Vaio W sold in Japan uses Microsoft's Windows XP operating system and features a 15.3-inch screen, a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor, 256MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive and a CD-rewritable drive. It's priced at 189,800 yen (approximately $1,550); yet the Vaio W may be configured differently for sale in the United States.
Sony is still taking a fairly big risk with the W. Aside from Apple'sand, to some extent, Gateway's Profile, "there's really not been any successful all-in-one PCs," Baker said.
Part of that has to do with price. All-in-one computers typically cost more than a PC and monitor purchased separately. Also, businesses have shown they prefer to keep PCs and monitors separate as monitors can be replaced less often than PCs. Such a setup also simplifies repairs.
Because of the difference in PC and monitor upgrade cycles, IBMits all-in-one NetVista X Series PC.
The market has changed, however, since the last all-in-one Windows machine, Baker said. Consumers have shown interest in stylish desktop PCs that are easily stored, as demonstrated by brisk sales of larger, relatively inexpensivethat use desktop Pentium 4 processors.
"It's been a while since a really slick, well done all-in-one on the Windows side has been on store shelves," Baker said.