Sony launches mini notebook with built-in camera

Sony will this month take the wraps off a small notebook computer with a built-in camera for capturing digital images or videos. The Vaio PCG-C1 houses a one-sixth-of-an-inch, 270,000-pixel video camera that can be used for taking digital still images as well as video clips with sound.

Sony will this month take the wraps off a small notebook computer with a built-in camera for capturing digital images or videos.

The Vaio PCG-C1 houses a one-sixth-of-an-inch, 270,000-pixel video camera that can be used for taking digital still images as well as video clips with sound, a Sony spokesman says.

The unit, shipping only in Japan, comes with an application called PictureGear version 2.5 for organising and browsing images. The Sony-developed software can also be used to adjust images' brightness and contrast as well as add simple animation to images, he said.

The Windows-based Vaio notebook also allows users to integrate images and text into single documents or attach them to e-mail messages, the Sony spokesman added.

The unit is Sony's latest attempt to keep ahead of its competition as it tries to wedge a place for itself in the market for innovative portable PCs. The company earlier this year created a big splash in Japan with its first Vaio notebooks, which offered a sleek design and which were soon copied by rival PC vendors.

Sony presently stands at about seventh place in Japan's notebook PC market ahead of Dell Computer and Compaq Computer, according to IDC Japan.

The company is still mulling the new Vaio's overseas launch. The head of the Sony's computer group said recently he expected to roll out the diminutive unit in the US by year end. However the spokesman today said no plan has been decided yet. Still, another source familiar with the new unit, said the machine would not likely be ready for a U.S. launch until next year.

Sony is keeping the Vaio PCG-C1 price open in Japan -- in other words, the company is not setting restrictions on the price, meaning dealers can set their own prices. However, the vendor expects the unit's street price to be about 250,000 yen ($US1,850), the Sony spokesman said.

The PCG-C1 is powered by Intel's 233MHz Pentium MMX, ships with a 3.2G byte hard drive and has 64Mb of synchronous DRAM (dynamic random access memory).

The 1.1 kg machine measures 240mm by 140mm by 37mm and has an 8.9-inch XGA (1024 by 480 pixels) TFT-LCD (thin-film transistor-liquid crystal display) screen. Its keyboard has a 17mm pitch and a stroke of 2mm.

The machine supports the IEEE 1394 interface and includes a 56Kbit/s modem, the Sony spokesman says.

Sony, based in Tokyo, can be reached at +81-3-5448-6800 or at http://www.sony.com/.

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