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Vaio gets new look, same silly name

Unit looks like notebook but acts like desktop

Unveiling its first new PC of 2002, Sony has taken the wraps off a cool new design for its Vaio desktop computer.

For now Sony claims it has no plans to release the units in the UK, however this is a somewhat stock response and doesn't really mean 'no'. The Vaio W series is built around a 15.3in widescreen TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with 1,280x768 resolution. It can also be used as a limited VCR.

The guts of the computer are built into a box behind the monitor, which keeps the unit looking ultra-thin. The keyboard is integrated into the package and flips down for use in front of the monitor, so it can be kept in a compact position when not in use.

Sony's Vaio compact machine may look like a notebook, but with a standard — instead of mobile — 1.2GHz Intel Celeron processor this is certainly a desktop system. It combines its Celeron chip with 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive. It also features a CD-RW/DVD-ROM optical drive, built-in ethernet adapter, TV tuner and a slot for Sony's Memory Stick card.

On the software side, Microsoft's Windows XP Home Edition operating system and Sony's GigaPocket LE are bundled with the Vaio. This Sony application allows the computer to be used as a DV (digital video) recorder, storing up to 18 hours of television in Mpeg-2 format at a 3Mbps (megabits per second) data rate and 352x240 resolution.

The company's MovieShaker video-editing software, DVGate software for working with DV-format camcorders and three original packages for working and manipulating digital-still images are also included.

The Vaio W101 will go on sale in Japan on 2 February at a price of around £840 plus VAT.

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