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Sony Vaio PCG-1P1L netbook set for CES

Details of 'revolutionary' mini laptop emerge

Another day, another Sony laptop specification revealed? At the beginning of this week, Sony New Zealand began a teaser campaign for a new Vaio laptop. That was followed by Sony Japan on Wednesday, which offered a visual clue to the new machine, and Sony US on Thursday apparently let the laptop's specifications out of the bag.

Expectations for the new laptop began in early December after an image of a laptop appeared in a regulatory filing on the Federal Communications Commission's website. The machine was identified as the PCG-1P1L and the few details available indicated it will offer cellular as well as Wi-Fi connectivity.

At the beginning on this week, Sony New Zealand - in a campaign that has since been removed from the company's website - started promoting a "revolutionary" Vaio laptop that will be revealed on January 9 in the country. That works out to just a few hours after Sony CEO Howard Stringer is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 8.

On Wednesday, Sony in Japan started promoting a new Vaio laptop and offered a better idea of the machine's design - a compact laptop that could fit in a woman's purse.

See all netbook reviews

On Thursday a Flash animation on Sony's US shopping site, SonyStyle, offered details of a Vaio P laptop. Sony used the 'Vaio P' name back in 2003 for a desktop PC but at present it doesn't offer any machines under that name.

The computer, according to the site, has an 8in LED backlight screen with 1,600 pixel by 768 pixel resolution. Other snippets include a 1.33GHz Intel processor, Vista Home Premium or Home Basic, and the choice of a hard-disk drive up to 60GBs or a 128GB solid-state disk (SSD).

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From the regulatory filing, the computer appears about 22cm long by 11cm deep and its form factor would suggest a widescreen 8in display. The greater length could allow for a larger keyboard than is possible on most of the compact "netbook" computers now be offered by competitors and the combination of a high-resolution with LED backlight will likely make for an impressive display.

The 1.33GHz Intel processor matches the speed of the Atom chip that is included in some netbooks although the use of Vista would be unusual if this is indeed a netbook. If it's a compact but more fully featured machine, as the use of Vista might suggest, then it would appear to be based on the more powerful Core2Duo processor, which is the only other chip Intel offers at this speed.

The additional power would come at a price. The Core2Duo chip in bulk costs $289 versus $40 for the Atom and Vista is more expensive than XP so a more powerful mini laptop wouldn't be competing with netbooks on price but likely targeting that portion of the market which is attracted by the small size of netbooks but needs a more powerful platform.

While more hints or leaks from Sony could come in the next few days we'll likely only know the full story about the new machine when the Consumer Electronics Show rolls around in early January.

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