Sony unveils Centrino 2-based Vaio laptops

Sony has announced four laptops based on the Centrino 2 processor

Sony is joining Intel's Centrino 2 launch party with its unveiling of four laptops based on the new processor.

Centrino 2 is the first major refresh to the Centrino platform since it was launched in 2003 and the new chips offer better multimedia performance and lower power consumption. Wireless networking has been improved with 802.11n and optional WiMax support and there is an integrated graphics processor for handling heavy computations.

Headlining the Sony range is the Vaio Z. It has a 13.1-inch widescreen display and comes with an optional Blu-ray Disc drive. While the screen's 1,600 pixel by 900 pixel resolution can's support Blu-ray Disc at full high-definition (1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels) there's an HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) connector for hooking the laptop up to a high-def TV.

A model with 128G-byte SSD (solid-state disk) is also available.

The Vaio Z will be available in the U.S. from August with prices starting at US$1,800. The SSD model will retail from $2,300.

Sony's Vaio SR has a slightly larger 13.3-inch screen and boasts an LED-backlight that should mean a brighter, crisper image than conventional LCD (liquid crystal display) panels.

The computer also comes with Sony's Vaio Media software, which allows content on the laptop to be streamed around the home to other devices across a DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) network. It will be available from this month with prices starting at US$1,400.

A step-up in size from the Vaio Z and SR is the Vaio FW, which has a 16.4-inch screen. A premium model combines Blu-ray Disc playback with a full high-def screen so movies can be watched at maximum resolution on the machine. The FW has the same network streaming software as the SR.

The Vaio FW will be available this month with prices from US$1,000 for the standard model and US$1,750 for the premium model with full high-def screen.

The BZ-line is targeted at business users and has a 15.4-inch widescreen display and spill-resistant keyboard. Some models come with Intel's vPro, which allows corporate IT managers to access and fix PC problems remotely. Windows Vista Business is standard but an XP downgrade is offered on some models. Look for the machines from July with prices from US$1,000.

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