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.

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9 replies on “Sony’s latest ultraportable unveiled (partially)”

  1. One of the main selling points of netbooks is its low cost. Producing a netbook with bells and whistles at the sacrifice of price does not seem like a formula for success IMO. If Sony wants to successfully enter the netbook craze they need to offer something affordable and then rely on it to sell because of their established name, not because it is “small and powerful”.

    Earlier I viewed the product page for the P series after jkontherun posted it. It has since been taken down. Most likely the specs on the “test” page are inaccurate and were just placed their for page testing purposes. It seems that they have not ironed on the final details on the P series, considering that the listing on the product page still contained a few variables.

  2. The picture is just a placeholder, showing the Vaio TT ($2000+ subnotebook). The actual device will most probably look different from the TT.

    Regarding the size of the keyboard: At 8″ and 1600×768 I guess the keyboard will take up all the available space – not only horizontally but also vertically. With no space wasted for a palmrest or tiny touchpad it would be the same size as on an 8.9″ or 10″ EeePC and therefore big enough for touchtyping.

    It might be a fine piece of hardware, only problem will be the high price and so it will just be a niche product like all the other expensive subnotebooks and UMPCs on the market already.

    The reason for the netbooks’ huge popularity is not their small size or weight – that has been done before. It’s the price point – at 300 or 400 bucks you can sell millions of these devices. At 1000+? Forget it.

  3. first of all thx for the great info.
    then poor sony – silly device for probably way too much.
    the next gen of netbooks will have swivel touch like the Fujitsu p1610/20/30 and the Gigabyte m912.

  4. Sony F’ed up.
    This sounds like something they were thinking about 18 months ago, “Hey won’t it be cool if……” and then the world kept spinning and Netbooks caught on. Sony doesn’t need a high end machine they need to make a machine like everyone else with a Sony brand. Some people would buy what Sony was selling even if it had just their badge on it. It could have been the same specs as the Lenovo, Samsung or MSi and people would have just bough the Sony one….just because.

    – Nobody needs a 1600 x 768 screen and at 8″ you’ll never enjoy it.
    – That big SSD is great…but that will JACK the price sky high.
    – Sony just go with Atom, this is no time to go off the reservation.
    – This seem like it will be too small for what people really want. Why go 8″ when it really does seem 10″ is the sweet spot right now.
    – Vista Home? Come on, nobody wants that. Offer people what they want: XP.

    This just seems so ill conceived on all levels. They might as well had made nothing then debuting this. Also that looks like that weird Vaio T keyboard which is @$$

    1. I think it’s just another expensive trinket, probably > US$2,000 for the 128GB SSD model, only quasi-pocket/pursable (to coin a word 🙂 and not really usable for touch typing with that size keyboard, not in the netbook arena at all, unless we jack up the price range.

    2. If the ‘netbook’ is small enough to fit in a pocket and used on the go (which isn’t possible with current netbooks), it wouldn’t be that bad, but since Sony is ‘like no other’ they end being the black sheep.

      Sony is overrated, almost as any Apple device.

  5. My first guess was that it’s a trinket for rich jet-setters to watch super wide movies on, but at Wikipedia I couldn’t match it up with any movie or display format (I could have overlooked something). So I googled “1600 x 768” including the quotes, and the first hit was this article 🙂

    The second hit was a similar article on a Malaysian blog (here). But the third hit was the specs on a still camera with this format. Maybe Sony has in mind selling this to still photographers who want to store, view, or edit their still shots?

    The fourth hit was a page of dirty manga wallpaper which included an image with this format. (I’m not going to give you that link, you’ll have to google it yourself 😉 So something must exist for this wallpaper — do people keep wallpaper on their still camera LCD displays?

    P.S. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to everybody!

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