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This PC can roam all over your home!

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CHAMELEON PC: Opened, the Sony Vaio L series is a movie player (right) or a wireless computer-browser (top left). Closed, it is a hi-fi music system (bottom left).
CHAMELEON PC: Opened, the Sony Vaio L series is a movie player (right) or a wireless computer-browser (top left). Closed, it is a hi-fi music system (bottom left).

Anand Parthasarathy

Sony's Vaio is a music system, movie player or a plain old PC? You decide

Bangalore: Is it an ultra slim desktop personal computer? Or rather a large laptop? Sony calls its new L Series Vaio machine, a mobile home panel PC. It looks like a flat screen TV with a stereo speaker stuck on either side of the (15.4 inch) liquid crystal screen and a suitcase-type handle to lug it from place to place. There's a keyboard neatly folded and tucked across the screen.

In folded position, the VGC-LA38G, to give it the full name, sits on your drawing room or kitchen table and thinks it is a music system with a pair of three-watt hi-fi speakers. The audio controls and the CD-DVD drive can be accessed from outside. Slip in a video DVD and the system looks and sounds like a superior cinema system. The Hindu has evaluated the machine, just launched in India.

When the keyboard is opened, the Vaio Panel PC takes on another `avatar' as a state-of-the-art tabletop personal computer, fuelled by the latest Intel Core-2 Duo processor chip with a gigabyte of memory, 120 GB of hard disk storage and running the new Vista Home Premium version of Microsoft's Windows operating system. The built-in batteries work long enough for the average Hinglish film; but a main charger unit is also thrown in.

There's no mouse this is a mobile PC; but the keyboard includes a sensitive pad that high-end notebook users will recognise. The machine connects wirelessly to whatever Internet network you have running in your home, so you can sit up at your work table to catch up with your mail then lift it by the handle and give it to other members of the family who are waiting to watch a movie or listen to their favourite CDs.

Desktop-laptop fusion

Kent Tanigaki, Sony's India-based Country Product Manager, explains the company's rationale for creating this desktop-laptop fusion product. Many customers, especially women, use a PC at home seamlessly switching between work and play and they like to do this wherever they please. They want the mobility this demands, but not the ultra mobility of the notebook used by workaholic `road warriors,' in which functionality is sacrificed for portability. Designers Atsushi Ida and Yosuke Shimizu came up with the innovative features: the ultra bright LCD screen which shows movies even in a fully lit room, the see-through polycarbonate chassis that is both light and strong, and the full sized keyboard (families hate the cramped notebook keypads).

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