Sony launches 15.5-inch VAIO S, tweaks other product lines

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As promised, Sony has begun shipping the VAIO S it unveiled at IFA in August, in addition to updating other notebook lines. The 15.5-inch VAIO S is part of a series-wide overhaul that started in May, bringing improved portability, performance and power efficiency thanks to Intel's Sandy Bridge platform. As with the 13.3-inch iteration introduced earlier this year, the new machine can be equipped with your choice of second-generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processors.

All of those chips carry Intel's integrated graphics engine, but you can augment that with an optional AMD Radeon HD 6470M 512MB or 6630M 1GB. If you intend on playing games -- even casual -- you might want to spring for a discrete chip considering the 15.5-inch display has a native resolution of 1080p. The system can be ordered with 4, 6 or 8GB of RAM while storage options range from single hard drives to dual 128, 256 or 512GB solid-state drives.

As with the 13.3-inch model, the 15.5-inch VAIO S affords the room for a DVD or Blu-ray drive, while the standard internal battery can be supplemented with a sheet battery. There are no big surprises in terms of connectivity as the system offers gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, WiDi 2.0, HDMI and VGA-out, one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. Other niceties include a built-in HD webcam and mic as well as a backlit keyboard. Pricing starts at $1,000.

Alongside the VAIO S, Sony has rolled out various fall updates across its product lines. The VAIO C has gained a Core i7, the VAIO E is now offered with a Core i5, the VAIO F and L now come with second-gen Core processors, and the VAIO SA, SB and SE have received a new color option (red). Amid other scattered changes, Sony has also announced that starting on Thursday, October 6, VAIO customers will get a free Music Unlimited plan for six months.

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