July 15, 2003 10:12 AM PDT

Sony unveils bigger, badder Vaio W

Sony is preparing to launch a W desktop with a wider view.

The company announced on Tuesday its plan to offer a new version of its all-in-one Vaio W desktop with a 17.5-inch display.

Along with its distinctive fold-down keyboard, the forthcoming Vaio W will also incorporate Sony's Giga Pocket personal video recorder, letting owners use the PC to record and watch television programs. Dubbed PCV-W500GN1, the new model marks the first major U.S. revision of the Vaio W, which Sony first introduced here in October 2002.

Like its predecessor, the souped-up W model will face a tough audience. All-in-one PCs, which meld a desktop's internal components and its display, generally don't sell as well as standalone desktops.

Complicating the market for the W is the new trend of consumers opting for large-screen notebooks to replace aging desktops. Those who choose to stick with desktops, especially businesses, often expect to use their monitor with two or more desktops.

Price can also work against all-in-one PCs, which often cost more than a similar, standalone desktop and a flat-panel display. But Apple Computer has proven, with its iMac desktop, that all-in-one PCs can win over customers. Gateway also sells an all-in-one Profile 4 PC. The company has pledged to offer new versions of that desktop later this year.

Sony is aiming to sway buyers by offering much more than a basic PC with an attached screen and keyboard. Aside from the Giga Pocket and the ability to watch TV, the Vaio W will sport a music mode that lets people fold up the keyboard and listen to music via the machine's built-in speakers. Sony is also playing up the cool factor with a sleek design that makes the computer look like a digital television.

Sony said in a statement that the Vaio W will cost about $2000 and go on sale in the United States in August.

Aside from its 17.5-inch display, the Vaio W PCV-W500GN1 model will incorporate a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and a combination DVD-burner and CD-burner drive, according to Sony's Web site.

The machine will also come with a remote control for viewing Giga Pocket recordings.

Sony's current Vaio W, which offers a 15.3-inch display and a 2GHz Pentium 4, sells for $1,599.

 

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