Ultralight Windows Netbook from Sony with Linux Instant-On

Jan 22, 2009

Sony has brought a new mini-notebook to the market that is small, light, stylish and with Windows Vista, although its instant-on feature is Linux-powered.

Sony is promoting its new Vaio P Series as "the world's lightest 8-inch notebook" and brands it as a Lifestyle PC rather than a netbook. The device weighs 1.4 lbs (with standard battery) and is "roughly as thin as a cell phone." The wide monitor resolves at 1600 x 768 pixels and is LED backlit with XBRITE technology. The keyboard is normal size, but here is where the target user comes into play. Sony's press release clearly states that the "spacing between keys has also been engineered to help reduce typing mistakes; making it perfect for long fingernails." Other netbook-like features include wireless, Web access and webcam. The standard battery lasts four hours and an eight-hour battery option is available. Sony also promotes its integrated GPS to help the lifestyle-aware user find local restaurants and hotels.

Windows Vista is preinstalled, but patience isn't necessarily a virtue Sony wants to entrust its users: instead of the normal Windows Start, an instant-on button, prominent on the keyboard, launches the Vaio Xross Media Bar interface. In about 20 seconds you can listen to music, download photos or videos and access the Internet. The instant-on function is based on a Linux stack named Instant Mode, which Sony includes in many other devices, such as Playstations and various cameras. Sony has a webpage "prepared for the people who are interested in Sony products with Linux embedded technology."

The lifestyle theme naturally requires a choice of black, red, green or white for the chassis. A color-coordinated Bluetooth mouse is also offered. Sony clearly wants to differentiate the P Series, with its Intel processor inside, 2-GByte DRAM, 60-GByte HDD and pricing model, from the Asus and Acer netbooks. In fact, the starting price is $900. The devices should begin showing up in February 2009, although a solid-state drive version is available now at the European Sony Style site.

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