Sony Reverses Course, Releases Vaio Netbook

Sony said it wouldn't enter the true netbook market as it was just "a race to the bottom" in terms of PC specs. Well, someone in the company's decided it's also a market worth lots of money, as there's now a Vaio netbook.

Sony Vaio W

It's called the Vaio W, and it comes in just one single specification that'll be familiar to netbook fans: It's powered by a 1.6 GHz Atom processor with 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, A2DP stereo Bluetooth, Wi-Fi N, and memorystick and SD card slots. There's also two USB ports, an ethernet port, webcam and it has an 86% chiclet-style keyboard—like the ones Apple's had in its MacBooks for a while.

What makes the machine stand out is its 10.1-inch, 1366-by-768-resolution screen and its built-in Vaio Media Plus software which lets you stream content from the Vaio W to any DLNA-enabled device. And, at least according to Sony, its cheery colors and pretty design make it an attractive prospect too. It's also "sturdy enough ... for every member of the family." The company even makes special mention of its Energy Star 5.0 compliance, and EPEAT Gold badge, and that it "incorporates eco-conscious features such as a mercury-free LED backlit LCD. Its corrugated cardboard packaging is comprised of 95% recycled content. Sony will also help recycle your old PC."

Those last points illustrate exactly what the Vaio W is for Sony—it's a token entry into the netbook market, differentiated from the others by very little in terms of specs, but it's designed to look nicer and maybe its green status will attract some buyers. Essentially Sony's hoping that when confused consumers glance along the netbook shelves of their local electronics store they'll spot the big, familiar Sony name and possibly choose that device over a rival one. It's due in a month in the U.S. for a surprisingly un-Sony price of just $499.


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