Sony unveils 'Extreme' Vaio

Sony has claimed that the latest version of its 505-series notebook computer is the world's lightest and thinnest of its type.

Sony has claimed that the latest version of its 505-series notebook computer is the world's lightest and thinnest of its type.

One of the first things noticeable about the computer, the PCG-X505, also dubbed the "505 Extreme", is its thickness, which is 9.7mm at the front, growing to 21mm at the back where the body and display are hinged together.

Sony managed to reduce the thickness of the machine by miniaturising the motherboard so that it fits in a space between the keyboard, hard disc drive, battery and PC Card slot.

Usually the motherboard is much larger and overlaps other components so that the machine has to be thicker, but by shrinking the motherboard to roughly the size of a Mini Disc, Sony has managed to cut the total thickness of the machine.

Other space-saving measures include fitting the Memory Stick slot into the computer mouse and reducing the thickness of the keyboard backplane to 0.4mm.

The 505 Extreme carries a 1GHz version of Intel's Pentium M microprocessor. Standard memory is 512Mbytes and the laptop includes a 20Gbyte hard disc drive and a 10.4in TFT LCD with maximum resolution of 1,024 pixels by 768 pixels (XGA).

Wireless Lan support is not built into the machine, although Sony supplies a Wi-Fi card that can be inserted into the computer's single PC Card slot.

The computer measures 259mm by 208mm and weighs either 785g or 825g depending on whether a carbon fibre or nickel-strengthened carbon case is chosen. The carbon-fibre model will go on sale in Japan next week, and the other next month. They will be priced at ¥349,000 (£1,918) and ¥300,000 (£1,648) respectively.

Sony has also unveiled the Vaio PCV-P101, which aims to bridge the gap in the market between desktop computers and notebook computers, which already make up more than half of all consumer PC purchases in Japan but which are often only used inside the home.

The keyboard of the Vaio P covers the screen and protects it when not in use and folds down when in use. The screen is a 17-inch widescreen LCD panel.

Unlike Sony's Vaio W however, which was reasonably thick, the Vaio P is thinner and flat on the rear. A metal frame runs around the monitor, joined to the monitor at each side but clear of the monitor at the top and bottom so that it forms a handle with which the computer can be carried, making the entire PC resemble something like a large notebook computer with metal carrying handle.

Battery life is between 30 minutes and one hour and the machine weighs 7.8kg. The Vaio P is based on a 1.06GHz version of Intel's Mobile Celeron processor, has 256Mbytes of memory, a 40Gbyte hard disk drive and CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. There is also a host of connectors, including four USB2.0 ports, a Lan port and iLink S400 four-pin connector.

Sony will put the Vaio P on sale in Japan on 22 November for around ¥180,000. Sony has not yet decided on plans to sell either machine outside Japan.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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