October 7, 1998 6:30 PM PDT

Sony announces new PCs, laptops

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Sony announced new PCs and notebooks that can edit video using advanced digital interconnect technology, as well as a storage device the company hopes will replace the floppy drive.

Sony is touting the new systems' ability to edit videos from cameras by using a high-speed digital interconnect technology known as FireWire, or IEEE 1394 as it is formally known.

Bundled software allows users to add special effects and soundtracks to movies, which can then be output back to video format for playback. The same software also enables the PC to record custom "MiniDisc" CDs and control Sony audio CD changers.

"Sony is orchestrating the convergence of audio-video and information technology to a new crescendo," said Dr. Teruaki Aoki, president and COO of Sony Electronics, in a statement.

The PCV-E308DS with 400-MHz Pentium II, 128MB of memory, and 13.6GB hard disk drive is priced at $2,299. The PCV-E302DS with 350-MHz Pentium II, 64MB of memory, and 10.2GB hard disk drive is priced at $1,499. Both systems include a DVD-ROM player and will be available next month, the company said.

Sony did adopt the K6-2 processor from Advanced Micro Devices for a new line of consumer PCs for the Japanese market, but the systems introduced today stick with Intel Pentium II and Pentium procesors.

Sony also revealed that it would offer a PC with the 333-MHz Pentium II processor, a 5.1GB hard disk drive, 64MB of memory, and DVD-ROM drive for $1,199.

The new desktop PCs represent an embellishment on a heretofore ineffectual strategy to sell systems that integrate well with other Sony audio/visual entertainment products. The company's notebooks, however, have fared significantly better in part due to their thin and lightweight designs.

Sony's fall notebook offerings include 300- and 266-MHz Pentium II-based notebooks with 13.3-inch active matrix displays. FireWire ports for connecting high-speed digital peripherals such as video cameras are available in docking stations, sold separately. The systems are priced starting at $2,799.

Among the company's entry-level offerings, the PCG-812 with 13.3-inch active-matrix display, 233-MHz Pentium II, 4GB hard disk drive, and 64MB of memory is priced at $2,199. A system with 266-MHz Pentium MMX, 32MB of memory, and 13-inch dual scan display is priced at $1,599.

Meanwhile, Sony's Electronics Component Company said it would start selling a new floppy disk drive that can store up to 200MB of data while retaining the ability to read current 3.5-inch floppy disks.

Sony is positioning the new drives as possible replacements for the standard 1.44MB floppy drives and also as products that will offer higher performance and storage capacity than either Zip drives from Iomega or LS-120 drives from companies such as O.R. Technology, which also covet the slot reserved for today's floppy drives.

HiFD drives, as Sony is calling them, would store 200MB of information, compared to 100MB for Zip drives and 120MB for LS-120 drives. The drives would also permit faster data transfer rates than competing products, meaning that files get copied from one source to another more quickly.

The drives, originally slated to be available in the spring of this year, are expected to be available on store shelves by November, according to the company.

 

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