Sony tonight at its CES pre-show conference unveiled its long-expected VAIO P. The frequently leaked device is Sony's approach to netbooks but also explicitly takes on tablets and smartphones through a unique, extra-long design with an 8-inch 1600x768 screen and pointer-only mouse control: the system is small enough to fit in many pockets, Sony claims. The wide design has the side benefit of giving the mini PC a much larger keyboard than most systems its size.
The system is envisioned partly as a media player and has an instant-on mode with Sony's PlayStation-derived XMB interface providing quick access to certain types of content without booting into the system's normal Windows Vista environment.
Sony also makes it a point to equip the VAIO P with more advanced hardware than most netbooks. Although running a 1.33GHz Intel Atom chip, the portable also comes with 2GB of memory, a webcam and a 128GB solid-state drive. Wireless is also stronger than on most netbooks and includes 802.11n Wi-Fi along with built-in Bluetooth and CDMA-based 3G; in the US, the new VAIO is ready to use for Verizon. Integrated GPS not only supplies positioning but doesn't require an active Internet connection to provide driving directions as with most cellphone-based mapping.
Despite reports of multiple configurations, Sony is currently listing just one trim level and plans to sell the VAIO P for $900 through its own stores in late January and elsewhere by February.