Sony Goes Whole Hog With a New Ultrabook, Updates Vaio Notebook Line
It's not surprising with Computex on and hardware refreshes from the three major players (AMD, Intel, NVIDIA) that vendors have been updating their offerings. What is surprising is just how massive the updates Sony has lined up are, with no less than five new or refreshed lines to take a look at.
The big launch is Sony's first ultrabook proper. While the Z series we reviewed largely qualified as an ultrabook, the T series is the first Sony is actually calling an ultrabook. The T series is a 13.3" ultrabook built on a magnesium and brushed aluminum chassis, sporting Ivy Bridge ULV processors and offering either an SSD or a hybrid storage solution featuring mechanical storage with solid state caching via Intel's Smart Response Technology. Best of all, the T series is launching at a price point starting at just $799. Looks like Ivy Bridge will be bringing ultrabook prices down after all.
Next on the list, Sony is refreshing their E series with backlit keyboards in the 14" and 15.5" models along with updated AMD Radeon HD graphics. The 11" E series is listed as coming equipped with an AMD processor, so this is liable to be running either Brazos or the next generation Brazos refresh. Meanwhile, the 14" is still going to be using Sandy Bridge processors (liable to be confined to dual core) while the 15.5" will be available with both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processor options. And not to be outdone by HP and Dr. Dre's Beats Audio, Sony is releasing a Vaio E 14" model that is, I kid you not, called the "LL Cool J E 14P Series Boomdizzle Bundle," which includes collaborative music recording software and Sony MDR-V55 DJ style headphones. The 11" E series starts at $449, the 14" E series starts at $549 ($899 for the Boomdizzle Bundle), and the 15" E series starts at $449.
Sony is also updating their popular thin-and-light S series with magnesium shells and NVIDIA graphics featuring Optimus technology. Unfortunately details are pretty light with these 13.3" and 15.5" notebooks, but it looks like we'll be stuck with Sandy Bridge on the 13.3" while the 15.5" model will offer Ivy Bridge quad core processors. Interestingly, Sony also says both notebooks will have quad RAID 0 available, which looks like it may just be a progression from the pair of SSDs configured in RAID 0 in the last generation. What should really get your attention is the 1080p IPS panel that will be available in the 15.5" S series (which is presumably the same panel as used in their previous VAIO SE and HP's Envy 15, though that remains to be seen). It looks like with this coming generation, some of the vendors are finally starting to realize that consumers are tired of low quality screens on their laptops. The 13.3" S series starts at $899, while the 15.5" S series starts at $999.
The Z series is also seeing an update, and the standout seems to be that the new Z series will be available with Ivy Bridge quad core processors...in a 2.6 pound chassis. It probably stands to reason Intel's 35W Core i7-3612QM will be on tap, but the question is whether or not the thermals and noise will continue to be a problem with this one as they were in the Z2, where fan noise was driven up to a very high whine as a result of trying to keep a full 35W CPU cool. Once again, the Z series enjoys a dock (no mention of external graphics hardware this time) and sheet battery. In keeping with its predecessor's premium status, the refreshed Z series starts at a not inconsiderable $1,599.
And last but not least, Sony is updating their 24" all-in-one L series line with Ivy Bridge quad core processors and modern NVIDIA graphics hardware. In late summer 2012, they'll also be offering an L series with glasses-free 3D. The L series starts at $1,299.
All of these new machines are due to become available by the end of this month.
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