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Sony preps MacBook Air rival with Thunderbolt; Chrome OS

updated 10:45 pm EDT, Sat March 19, 2011

Sony rumored for VAIOs with Thunderbolt, Chrome OS

A pair of rumors from a historically accurate source have Sony planning two ultraportable VAIOs, one of which could be its direct answer to the MacBook Air. The centerpiece, nicknamed the Hybrid PC, would by itself be a fast ultralight with a Core i7, an SSD, HDMI 1.4, WiDi and a weight of just under 2.5 pounds. When docked, however, the system seen by Sony Insider would turn into a full desktop replacement with a Radeon HD 6700M (Whistler-XT), a Blu-ray burner, and full expansion with Ethernet, VGA, and a unique connector that merges USB with AC power.

The system would also supposedly preempt Apple's head start on Thunderbolt by including the connector itself. It's unclear if this would be used to supply the connection from the dock or would be used to handle fast external storage or other pro peripherals. Thunderbolt supports daisy chaining and could do both.

A launch for the Hybrid PC would contradict Intel claims that Apple had a year of exclusivity but would also support beliefs about early development; along with Apple, Sony was also said involved in early feedback on Thunderbolt when it was still called Light Peak.

Battery life away from the dock would be eight to 16.5 hours depending on how aggressively. It wasn't said whether an extended battery played a role. Release schedules were also uncertain.

The second design would be an 11.6-inch Chrome OS netbook but would buck expectations of an Atom-based design. Sony's would use an NVIDIA Tegra 2, giving it eight hours of battery life and relatively fast graphics. It would have just 1GB of RAM inside, but the lighter footprint of Google's web OS would offset the difference. Storage would also go beyond spec with a 16GB flash drive instead of the minimum 8GB, and the choice along with the mobile processor would keep the weight at just 2.2 pounds. Some form of 3G or 4G would come built in.

Google may be rushing the OS, the source implied. Bluetooth and GPS would be present in a summer launch, but they wouldn't be enabled until a software update sometime afterwards.

Both the Hybrid PC and the Chrome OS design would signal major shifts in Sony's approach to the ultraportable category. It has previously tried either small performance systems with weight and thickness closer to traditional notebooks, such as the VAIO S and Z, or else high-speed Atom netbooks such as the VAIO P or the VAIO X. The Hybrid would be an attempt at a no-compromise system and could be the first more overt challenger to the modern MacBook Air where most are either refreshes of existing PCs.

VAIO X, Sony's last attempt at a very light ultraportable



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Roehlstation

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +9

    Mark this one as "Obscure"

    Like all the rest of the Sony line, Alphabet Soup model names, complete lack of advertising, and priced out of the range of the rest of the competition.

    How does this one stand apart from the rest of their sub-notebook line? It looks like the rest of them.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -1

    Exclusive?

    I thought Apple had an exclusive on Thunderbolt for half a year or so?

  1. macnnoel

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005

    -2

    The good news

    is faster adoption of TB-- too bad it's still a me-too product.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +2

    Sony=Toxic

    Sony can produce whatever products it likes. The real problem for Sony, with a history of root-kits, heavy-handedness, the taking away of features from products and the current GeoHot witch-hunt, is that the brand is becoming increasingly toxic. Sony isn't cool anymore, in the same way that using "cool" isn't cool anymore! Right now, the manner in which M$ has embraced the Kinect hackers has made Balmerville decidedly more friendly-looking than Sonytown. Who would have ever thought such a thing was even possible? Stringer has done a wonderful job of destroying Sony over the past ten years or so. I wonder can he now join the same club as Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman?

  1. BoomerHead

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010

    +3

    Thunderbolt for the cloud?

    I'm confused. I thought the point of Chrome OS was making everything web based and "the cloud" would hold everything you need. Why would one need Thunderbolt on that OS?

  1. facebook_Ian

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2011

    0

    comment title

    You can't "pre-empt a headstart". If someone's got a head start on you, you didn't pre-empt them.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: Mark this one as "Obscure"

    Like all the rest of the Sony line, Alphabet Soup model names, complete lack of advertising, and priced out of the range of the rest of the competition.

    Yeah, they should take the lead from Apple, and name all their computers the same thing, so people have nothing to compare it against. Hey, you got an Air? Me too! Which model? Oh, the late 2010 version. Yeah, mines the early 2009 model."

    And lack of advertising? Just because you haven't seen it, doesn't mean they aren't advertising.

    How does this one stand apart from the rest of their sub-notebook line? It looks like the rest of them.

    Um, you mean it's just like the MacBook Air? Or how the MacBook Air is just like the rest too?

    And, I guess you're right, with the TB port, and the docking station capability, it's just like all those other two-bit computers.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: Thunderbolt for the cloud?

    I'm confused. I thought the point of Chrome OS was making everything web based and "the cloud" would hold everything you need. Why would one need Thunderbolt on that OS?

    It wouldn't, necessarily. Which is probably why Thunderbolt isn't a feature on that laptop, but on the higher-end model, which isn't run Chrome OS.

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