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Sony Refreshes Vaio Line-up

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Having already seen one of the new models in its Centrino 2 offerings leaked prior to the launch, the rather interesting-looking Z-series, it's likely a lot of people are eagerly anticipating what else the company has to show. With Intel's Montevina embargo now lifted, Sony's new Vaio line-up details are now out.

The new range aims to offer a much clearer split between business and consumer notebooks - although the TZ (which isn't being updated yet) sits in both categories.

Kicking things off on the business side, the full details on the Z-series are out. The specs sit as follows:

* Intel Core 2 Duo processor
* 4GB DDR2 800MHz
* nVidia GeForce 9300M GS or GeForce 9600M GS and Intel integrated graphics (switchable graphics chips.)
* 13.1in, (16:9 aspect ratio) 1,366 x 768 CCFL or 1,600 x 900 LED-backlit screen
* 200GB or 320GB hard drive
* HSDPA (Mobile broadband) option (up to 7.2Mbit)
* Under 1.5Kg weight

Graphics switching is done on-the-fly, rather than requiring a reboot as the SZ series before did. We tested this out at the launch event and were pretty impressed. The switch still requires closing programs beforehand, but it's definitely much quicker than restarting the entire laptop.

The Z-series should launch in August, and will probably cost around £1,100 for the base model and closer to £1,500 for the higher-resolution, HSDPA-packing system.

Also on the business side, Sony has a new 15.4in offering, called the BZ-series. This is the company's entry level system, but the base specs are still quite impressive given the prospective pricing.

* Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (with vPro)
* 4GB DDR2 RAM
* 1,440 x 900 LED-backlit screen
* Intel integrated graphics (4500-series)
* Hard disk shock protection
* 200GB hard drive
* 2.7Kg weight.
* Magnesium alloy construction.

Pricing is set from £650-ish ex-VAT, obviously increasing as the specs do and the BZ range is available to buy now.

Moving on we have the SR-series, a more portable offing, the specs?

* 13.3in, 1,280 x 800 LED-backlit screen
* Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (with vPro)
* 200GB hard drive (with shock protection)
* AMD ATI Mobility Radeon 3470 (128MB)

The SR-series has some interesting features, such as programmable function keys and a Mode switch, changing between two different desktop setups (say one for work and one for home) - changing shortcuts and wallpaper as per user preference.

On the consumer side, all Sony's current range is getting an update to a more unified styling - namely the ‘cylinder' design sported by the Vaio TZ. The FZ-series, meanwhile, is being dropped and replaced with the FW-series - an entertainment-oriented system, which specs up as such:

* 16.4in, 1,600 x 900 (16:9) screen with Double Lamp technology (i.e. more even backlighting)
* Intel Core 2 Duo CPU
* 4GB DDR2 RAM
* Blu-ray drive (upgradable writable version)
* AMD ATI Mobilty 3470 graphics (3650 upgrade option)
* Vista Home premium (Ultimate on top-end model)

As well as offering native Blu-ray, the systems also have HDMI outputs allowing Full HD 1080p playback on an HDTV.

All told the new Vaio range looks pretty swanky and, even better, (some of the) systems are available right now.

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