Sony has added a new 15.5-inch laptop to its lineup in the form of the Vaio SE, an upscale-looking slim and light system about 1 inch thick that weighs 4.4 pounds. From the design and features list of the Vaio SE, it's clear Sony is targeting this as a high-end, power laptop with potential appeal to business users.
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Our just-arrived review unit, currently being benchmarked in the CNET Labs, is black, but a silver version is also available (Sony calls them Jet Black and Platinum Silver). Like Sony's other high-end laptops, such as the Vaio Z, the body is made of magnesium and aluminum, for a combination of ruggedness and light weight. The look and feel is pure Vaio, and the system looks like a matte black slab when closed, offset by an angular chrome hinge.
The display has a full HD 1,920x1,080 resolution and the system uses AMD Radeon 6630 graphics. The discrete GPU is switchable via Sony's Speed/Stamina switch--literally a physical switch on the laptop. We've gently mocked this Vaio-specific implementation before. (Do you really want to make consumers choose between speed and stamina? Most would demand both). And it's more than a bit clunky in the world of auto-switching graphics from Nvidia.
Like the recent Vaio Z, the new SE also has an optional slice battery, which is a thin external battery pack that covers the entire bottom surface of the laptop. Sony claims that by using the internal battery and slice (a $150 add-on) together, you can get up to 12 hours of battery life.
Both traditional and SSD hard drives are available, as are Intel Core i7 processors, and either DVD or Blu-ray optical drives. Intel's Wireless Display technology (WiDi) for beaming a video signal to a nearby TV is also included. That's all fairly standard stuff, but more interesting are the extras designed to appeal to corporate types, which include a TPM (trusted platform module) chip and Symantec's VIP authentication technology--the former especially is a must-have for IT departments.
The Sony Vaio SE starts at $999 and will be available in early October. We're currently benchmarking the system and testing the battery, so check back for our full review.