Sony to sell low-cost mini PC 'netbook' in August

Sony Corp. said Tuesday it will launch a tiny new laptop starting in August, the company's belated entry into the growing but cutthroat "netbook" PC market.

The new addition to its Vaio line of computers will cost about 60,000 yen ($630) when it goes on sale in Japan next month, with launches in the U.S. and Europe to follow shortly after. It will be about the size of a hardback book and run on lower grade hardware than other Sony models.

Netbooks -- small, cheap laptops with stripped-down components -- have been a lone bright spot in the PC market, expanding even as consumers cut back on more expensive purchases. But the tiny computers have low profit margins and can put well-known brands in direct competition with budget manufacturers.

"The netbook market is expanding, and Sony is following this trend," said company spokesman Shinichi Tobe.

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