Sony announces new ultra-portable VAIO Z series notebooks

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Low-cost ultra-portables might be all the rage right now, but that doesn’t bother Sony at all – it’s back trying to raise the bar in terms of how much power can be stuffed into a skinny, lightweight laptop by announcing the new VAIO Z series.

The Z series aren’t quite MacBook Air thin, stretching from 1″ to 1.3″ depth when closed, but they do weigh in at a very portable 3.42lbs (just over 1.5kgs) and pack a 13.1″ XBRITE DuraView LCD display, which goes up to 1600 x 900 resolution.

They are powered by Intel Centrino 2 processors and you can choose between 2.26 and 2.53 GHz CPU speeds. These are backed up by up to 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM and your choice of SSD (up to 128GB) or more tradition breeds of hard drive (up to 320GB).

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There’s none of this outdated Windows XP or Linux business going on here – just full blown Windows Vista Ultimate, Business or Home. Lucky old you. With that you get about 6 hours run time from the standard battery, but you can up that (along with the weight) with an extended battery for a further $100.

Graphics are powered by an NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GPU, and you can even choose to have a Blu-ray player installed instead of the bog-standard DVD RW drive.

Other features include a card slot that takes Memory Stick DUO and SD cards, HDMI and VGA outputs, a rather paltry 2x USB slots – one on either side – and a finger-print scanner so you can pretend like you’re James Bond or that it won’t matter when you leave it lying on the 0842 to London Paddington packed full of sensitive customer information.

Now the price: as you can imagine they aren’t very cheap, with pre-order prices ranging from $1,799 to $2,300 depending entirely on how you choose to configure it. Call it roughly five ULPCs if you will.

You can pre-order them from SonyStyle in the US right now and they are expected to start shipping around August over there. No word on official UK pricing or availability just yet.

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