Vaio PCs to return to overseas markets this fall

Vaio devices running Windows 10 will be sold through Microsoft stores in the U.S. from October

Vaio, Sony's former laptop brand, is returning to overseas markets this fall, with sales of Windows 10 devices in the U.S. and Brazil.

The high-end Vaio Z Canvas will be sold through Microsoft stores in the U.S. from October, Vaio, the company that now makes the PCs, said Wednesday.

The Vaio Z Canvas is a Windows slate that will be priced from US$2,199. The company did not release details about specs, but the version sold in Japan has an Intel Core i7-4770HQ processor and a 12.3-inch display, as well as a detachable keyboard.

Vaio said the Z Canvas will be targeted at people in working in creative content industries as well as other users. It would go up against models such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet, which has a far cheaper starting price of $799 at Microsoft stores.

Sales in Brazil will be done in partnership with manufacturer Positivo Informatica, which will make the PCs themselves, Vaio said, adding that details will be released in September.

Sony said sayonara to its money-losing PC business last year, selling it to Tokyo-based investment fund Japan Industrial Partners. Since its foundation in Japan's Nagano Prefecture in July 2014, Vaio has focused on domestic sales and building up an image associated with high-quality, made-in-Japan products.

Sony introduced Vaio in 1996 and earned praise for the sleek design associated with the brand. The first Vaio PC was the PCV-90, which ran Windows 95 on a Pentium 200MHz processor. The first Vaio notebooks appeared in 1997.

The brand was overshadowed by rivals, and by late 2013, Sony PCs had fallen to 1.9 percent of worldwide PC shipments. Ranked ninth, Sony shipped 1.5 million units during the third quarter of 2013, down from 2 million a year before, according to IDC.

Vaio will return to overseas markets at a time when PC sales are contracting. Worldwide PC shipments shrank about 12 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from a year earlier, according to IDC. Shipments in the U.S. were down 3.3 percent.

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Tim Hornyak

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