Sony has been showing off all sorts of desirable new kit at CES, among the best of which are its Vaio VGN-P500 Series ultraportable laptops, its 3in OLED display video MP3 player and a third generation eBook Reader.
The Sony VGN-P500 ultraportable laptop is an 8in widescreen XBrite-Eco machine running off a 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z25 processor and 2GB of RAM. It weighs around 2lbs. Two of the three versions have SSD (solid state disk) drives, which means no internal moving parts and therefore less susceptibility to data loss due to being knocked about.
Sony will offer these P500s as a 64GB model for $1,199 and a 128GB SSD model for $1,499. Both run Vista Home Premium. An $899 Sony VGN-P500 ultraportable laptop will also be offered with the same processor and RAM pairing but with a 60GB hard disk drive and Vista Home Basic as its operating system. Sony told us that no 'downgrade' to Windows XP will be offered.
The hard disk-based model will have a technology known as G-Shock - a mechanism that protects the data stored on it by automatically locking up when the machine is shaken or knocked. Sony told us that users will be able to set different trip levels for this feature, so that P500 owners who routinely over rough terrain don't constantly find themselves have to reset their laptop in order to use it again.
Although these ultraportable laptops are Windows Vista models, they don't need to boot into the main operating system in order to serve up media such as music of photos. Instead, a Linux overlay known as Media Plus allows the P500 to be used for common, non processor-intensive tasks, within 20 seconds of pressing the access button, with no need to launch Vista at all. A PlayStation Portable-style scrollable men allows users to select the content they want to use.
We were able to put Sony's claims of its instant on technology to the test, viewing photos and launching the Firefox for Linux browser within moments. While this impressed us, we were less taken with the lack of trackpad - something Sony has sacrificed in order to accommodate a highly functional Qwerty keyboard. Instead, you access your media using a somewhat retro stick mechanism.
The Sony P500 Series machines will be offered in four colour options: red, white, green and silver. The higher-end models will have onboard noise-cancelling support and come with Sony noise-cancelling earphones.
While other manufacturers of Intel Atom-based mini laptops were showing them at Intel's stand at CES, Sony is keen to disassociate itself from the netbook crowd. Rather, says Sony, these are full notebooks in the same way the original Vaio mini laptops that launched some eight years ago were. "Don't call this a netbook", Sony's representative told us, "It does so much more."
A battery life of 4 hours from the standard battery and eight hours from the extended battery is expected.
See also our Intel Atom laptop reviews.