New VAIO Lives on The EDGE

Look Ma, wireless surfing without a hotspot.

Or so goes the thinking behind a new Sony VAIO notebook family coming out next month.

The company said its new T300 ultra-portable family will come with wireless wide area network (WWAN) technology that allows it to tap into Cingular’s nationwide EDGE network.

An acronym for Enhanced Data GSM Environment, EDGE is a faster version of GSM wireless service, allowing data to zip by at rates up to 384 Kbps. The standard is based on the GSM standard and uses TDMA multiplexing technology. Cingular’s EDGE network currently covers 13,000 U.S. cities and nearly 40,000 miles of Interstate highways.

Cingular’s service is expected to compete with a 3G Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) network service being installed by Verizon Wireless .

Sony is capitalizing on that network with its SmartWi utility. Users can toggle between WLAN for hotspots, Bluetooth for peripherals and WWAN for Cingular’s EDGE connections without the need for a hotspot .

Sony said its new VAIO T300 family will run on Intel’s Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M 753 (1.2GHz, 2MB Level 2 cache) processor. The 3.04-pound laptops are also equipped with 802.11b/g wireless LAN with access speeds ranging between 70Kbps and 135Kbps.

“The exciting combination of our hardware and Cingular’s service allows you to go beyond the limited world of corporate, private and public hotspots to get online wherever you happen to be,” Mike Abary, general manager of VAIO product marketing for Sony Electronics, said in a statement.

The thin-and-light notebooks (starting at $2,200) will also come with a 10.6-inch LCD screen with XBRITE display technology, built-in Dolby surround sound, a 60GB hard drive, the option for either 512MB or 1GB of memory, and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW or double-layer DVD/RW drive. Sony says the system’s battery lasts between 3.5 and 9 hours on a single charge, depending on how much wireless is involved.

Cingular’s part of the deal includes its unlimited data access for $79.99 a month with a one-year agreement, or a 50MB plan for $49.99 a month with a two-year commitment. Either way, Sony customers receive a 60-day free service tryout.

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