September 30, 2002 9:00 PM PDT

Sony launches fall PC lineup

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Sony Electronics on Tuesday will announce its fall lineup of computing products, including notebooks with built-in DVD-rewritable drives, which it hopes will lure consumers through what many expect will be a tough retail season.

Sony will include a combination DVD-RW/CD-RW drives in its Vaio notebooks, which make up half of the six new Vaio products that the consumer electronics giant will announce. Sony's new desktop PCs will also include DVD-RW drives. All the PCs will include new DVD recording software from Sony and will be available in October.

Retailers and PC makers are gearing up for the holidays to make up some ground in what has been a dismal year for PC sales. Industry analysts expect that the holidays will be a reflection of the year and PC makers are responding with aggressively priced PCs with what were once high-end features.

Notebook PCs have been one of the bright spots this year and may help manufacturers generate some revenue this holiday season. Portable PCs have sold well compared with desktops this year, growing more than 6 percent, while overall unit shipments dropped 1 percent, according to research firm Gartner. Having a notebook that clicks with consumers is significant for manufacturers.

Sony has been known for its winning design in notebooks since it reversed its fortunes with the introduction of the slim Vaio 505 in 1998. The company was one of the first PC makers to add DVD-RW drives to its new notebooks and was one of the first to add combination DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives.

All three of its new notebooks, the Vaio PCG-GRX670, PCG-GRX690 and PCG-NV200 feature the DVD-RW drive. The $2,500 GRX670 comes with a 16.1-inch screen, 2GHz mobile Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive and 32MB of graphics memory. The $2,800 GRX-690 has a similar configuration, but comes with a 60GB hard drive.

The NV200 starts at $1,500 and can be custom configured at the Sony Style Web site. The NV200 can be configured with a 1.7GHz to 2GHz mobile Pentium 4 processor, 15-inch screen, 256MB to 512MB of memory, 30GB to 60GB hard drive and 32MB of graphics memory.

Sony will also be selling an external slim DVD-RW drive, the PCGA-DVRW1, for $600.

On the desktop side, Sony will announce three new desktops, the Vaio PCG-RZ16G, PCG-RZ14G and the PCV-RX860, which will also come with a DVD-RW and CD-RW drive. The RZ16G and the RZ14G are high-end PCs with 120GB hard drives. The $2,000 RZ16G comes with a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1GB of memory, six USB ports and two FireWire ports. The $1,700 RZ14G comes with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of memory, six USB ports and two FireWire ports.

The RX860 is an entry-level desktop PC that comes with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of memory, 80GB hard drive, six USB ports and two FireWire ports. The RX860 will cost $1,300.

Sony is also hoping to capitalize on the popularity of DVD players by including DVD-rewritable drives in its new PCs and by developing its own DVD recording and editing software, "Click to DVD."

"One out of every four American households have a DVD player connected to their TV and even more have camcorders," Mark Hanson, vice president of Vaio PC marketing, said in a release. "With Click to DVD, we've bridged the gap between these devices, making it very easy to create your own professional looking DVD."

The new software will be available with all new Vaios, as will the Vaio Media--a wireless networking software that helps consumers manage and share digital files with multiple devices connected to a home network.

 

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