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Sony aims at the lounge with stylish Vaio PC

Sony aims at the lounge with stylish Vaio PC

Sony is making a play for the living room with a new Vaio PC that's styled to look less like a computer and more like a consumer electronics product.

The cylindrical Vaio VGX-TP1, which was unveiled at last week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is 27 centimeters in diameter, sits 9 cms high and is designed in white to look stylish next to a flat-panel television.

"These days people are collecting lots of digital content on their PCs and this PC will allow people to enjoy them by connecting with the TV in the living room," said Yumi Matsui, a spokeswoman for Sony in Tokyo. "Until now it's been possible but PCs haven't had a great design for sitting in the living room next to the TV."

The new computer will hook-up to a TV via an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) connection so that it can playback high-definition content. An optional digital TV tuner will allow the machine to receive HDTV and built-in video recording software means it can be used as a digital video recorder. But there's no Blu-ray Disc drive fitted into the machine or available as an option.

Blu-ray Disc is available on an alternative living room PC, the Vaio XL3, but that machine is larger and looks a lot more like a computer than the TP1 model.

Other features of the TP1 include up to 500G bytes of hard disk storage space on the model that bundles the digital TV tuner. That works out to about 55 hours worth of digital HDTV assuming there's no other software on the machine.

The computer runs Windows Vista Home Premium operating system and comes bundled with a wireless keyboard and remote control. It's built on Intel's Viiv entertainment PC platform and also supports the DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) standard for home networking over Ethernet.

The computer weighs 3.7 kilograms and will be available in Japan during January. It will cost ¥130,000 (US$1,080) for the version without the digital TV tuner and ¥200,000 when bundled with the tuner. A model for the U.S. market will be available in March for US$1,600.

Sony also announced on Tuesday plans to sell a Wi-Fi digital music streaming receiver. The VGF-WA1 is a sort of boombox for the digital music age and will connect to a PC running either SonicStage, iTunes or Windows Media Player and stream songs to be played back through its two speakers. It's compatible with files encoded in MP3, Sony's ATRAC, Windows Media Audio and unprotected AAC. It can also connect to any radio station on the Live365 network.

It will go on sale in Japan in mid-February for ¥35,000.


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