Sony has been teasing us with hints of a new ultraportable in the VAIO laptop line for the last few days. The company may not be ready to reveal the new machine until January 9th (at least in New Zealand, but it also sounds to me like we could see this little guy show up at CES in Las Vegas in January). But jkOnTheRun found a new product on Sony’s web site that seems to be the mini-laptop.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about this device, like exactly what CPU it will use, how much it will weigh, how long the battery will last, or how much it will cost. But here’s what we do know. It will have an 8 inch screen with a crazy high resolution super-widescreen 1600 x 768 pixel display. It will probably hurt your eyes to look at. The Sony P-sereis VAIO will also pack a 1.33GHz Intel CPU, but no word on whether that’s an Atom, Core Solo, or even Core Duo chip. It will run Windows Vista Home Premium or Home Basic (no word on whether Sony will provide drivers for folks who want to “downgrade” to XP). And you’ll be able to get the mini-laptop with a 60GB hard drive or a 128GB SSD.
In other words, I don’t expect this thing to be cheap. At all. Sony basically took an old-school approach to building ultraportables here: Let’s make it as small and powerful as possible. And that kind of thinking tends to lead to a higher price, beause companies expect consumers to pay for premium features.
But with so many similarly featured cheap netbooks available, will Sony be able to sell this device if it does have a higher price tag? Look, I’m not saying that the netbook revolution necessarily means the death of higher end ultraportables. Some people are going to want 10 inch or smaller computers with fast processors, DVD drives, fingerprint readers and so on. But I do think netbooks have effectively turned that style of device into a niche market. You don’t have to pay $1000+ to get a tiny laptop anymore. So while I think there wille be some folks willing to pay $800 or more for the Sony VAIO P, I have to wonder if the company plans to charge a high price and sell a few units or if Sony actually thinks this thing is a netbook killer.
I can’t imagine why anybody would need a 1600 x 768 pixel display on an 8 inch screen. And while a 128GB solid state disk would be pretty awesome to have, it’s likely going to drive up the price of this device significantly.
Update: Sony has removed the page. It’s not clear at the moment whether all the specs were correct or not. And the image showed a picture of a Sony VAIO TT series devie. So we’ll have to wait a little longer to get the full story.