By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Sony Australia has released two new Vaio notebook models, their first with true 16:9 widescreens, but Australian customers will pay nearly double the price their US counterparts do for some models.

The new FW Series models all come with a new 16.4-inch widescreen display, and despite their unusual size, Sony claims the new aspect ratio means the notebooks will fit into most standard 15.4-inch widescreen laptop bags.

Sitting at the top of the range is the FW17GU/H, which comes with a Blu-ray burner, Core 2 Duo T9400 2.53 GHz processor and 320 GB hard disc. It also comes with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3740 graphics processor.

However, Australians will be forced to pay RRP $3,399 for the FW17, almost double the price of a similar model in the US.

While the model number is different, the US-spec FW190EBH is identical in all bar the Blu-ray drive (which is read only) but comes with a larger 400 GB hard disc and sells for RRP $1,769.99 on the Sony Style USA website.

The story continues with the base model FW15G B/W, which has a Core 2 Duo P8400 2.26 GHz processor, 250 GB hard disc, DVD combo drive and 2 GB RAM and sells for RRP $1,999 in Australia.

In America, the FW139E/H, again with identical specifications to the FW15G B/W but with a larger 3GB of RAM, sells for just $1,149.

The Australian mid-range FW Series model, the FW16 G/W, is more difficult to compare, as it comes with a Blu-ray drive, which is not available on anything other than the top model in the US FW range.

Australians will pay RRP $2,499 for the FW16 G/W, which comes with a Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4 GHz processor, aforementioned Blu-ray drive and 2 GB RAM.

Sony also introduced the Vaio BZ Series business laptop, which also comes with a 16:9 screen, albeit in the more conventional 15.4-inch size. It also comes with a P8400 processor, 200 GB hard disc and fingerprint reader for security.

As is standard on business laptops, the BZ Series comes with an anti-glare coating on the screen, but adds Vaio Presentation Support, which allows the laptop’s screen to be used for taking notes or checking reference materials, while an image of the external monitor is visible in the corner of the screen.

The FW Series is on sale now, while the BZ Series model’s price and date are yet to be announced. was seeking comment from Sony Australia on the FW Series pricing issue, but had not received a response prior to publication.