By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Sony has unveiled its first Vaio notebook computer to use a flash memory drive in place of a conventional spinning hard disk drive, giving it a performance edge against other ultraportable notebooks but with one trade off – storage capacity.

According to Sony, benefits of the solid state flash memory drives over conventional HDDs include faster boot-up time and operating speed, reduced weight, increased battery life and better durability due to the lack of moving parts.

However, the flash memory drive provides just 32GB of storage space. Similar Vaio notebooks in the range line feature 120GB and 160GB due to their use of traditional spinning disk HDDs.

Consumers will also have to pay a premium for the flash-based notebook, the VCG-TZ18GN, which will retail for $4,299.
Sony made the announcement as part of its Sony Experience More trade show, which began yesterday with a retailer session and was opened to the media today.

The TZ ultraportable notebook lineup also includes two other models – the TZ17GN (RRP $3,599) and the TZ16GN (RRP $2,999), both featuring an Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 processor (at 1.2GHz and 1.06GHz respectively), 11.1-inch ClearBright screen, Motion Eye camera, 1GB DDR2 SDRAM and Windows Vista Business.

While Sony claims the flash drive delivers superior battery peformance, its own specifications suggest the gains are rather modest.

According to specifications provided by Sony, TZ models with standard HDDs achieve up to 11 hours battery life, while the flagship TZ18GN with a flash drive achieves 11.5 hours.

Sony also launched the FZ series notebooks today, which incorporate Blu-ray drives.

The flagship FZ18G features an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor (2.2GHz), 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, 160GB hard drive, Blu-ray Disc drive, Windows Vista Home Premium and a 15.4-inch ClearBright high colour LCD screen.

“Sony is pleased to introduce these new notebooks to the popular VAIO line-up,” said Sony Australia Senior Product Manager – Vaio, Hiro Ishikawa.

“The FZ and TZ series will reinforce the Vaio traditions of AV/IT convergence, mobility and style.”