Sony launches its first laptop with a flash drive

Will cost you an additional $545 over a traditional 40GB hard drive

Sony Corp. is refreshing its lightweight Vaio Type-G laptop and has begun offering a solid-state flash drive as an option.

That makes the Type G the first laptop from Sony to be available with the new type of drive, which is the same size as a hard disk drive but uses flash memory to store data instead of writing it onto a magnetic disk. Flash drives offer several benefits over hard disk drives, including faster data read and write times, greater shock resistance, and lower power consumption.

But they are also more expensive. Customers will see the price of a Type G jump by $545 when they choose a 32GB flash drive over a 40GB hard disk drive, said Shoko Yanagisawa, a Sony spokeswoman in Tokyo.

A machine based on an Intel Corp. Celeron M 443 (1.20 GHz) processor with the flash drive will cost $1,930. The computers will be available exclusively through Sony's build-to-order sales channel in Japan. Sony doesn't have any current plans to offer them in other countries, said Yanagisawa.

The Type G was first launched last year and is notable because it's the lightest 12.1-inch screen-class laptop on the market at 898 grams. Replacing the hard disk drive with a flash drive will lighten the machine by 39 grams.

The computer isn't Sony's first with a flash drive. That distinction goes to the Vaio UX90, a handheld ultraportable that was launched last July with a 16GB flash drive.

The 32GB drive Sony is offering with the Type G is the highest capacity model available from the major drive and memory product makers. Several companies, including Samsung Electronics Co. and SanDisk Corp. make the drives. Last month, Samsung said it would launch a 64GB flash drive in the second quarter of this year.

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