Sony Vaio S for U.S., with Intel Core i7, Available for Pre-Order

Following on a European announcement, the Sony Vaio S Series notebooks are now available for pre-order. With a separate battery sheet, 15 hours of battery life is possible.

Sony's new Vaio S Series of laptops are now available for pre-sale in the United States, starting at $970.

Think you already heard the news? That was an announcement for a European version; the U.S. version, says Sony, is a bit more robust, offering the option of up to a second-generation, 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor and an Advanced Micro Devices Radeon 1GB Hybrid Graphics card, rather than the Euro version's 512. There's also the option of a dual-channel 256GB solid-state drive with Raid O technology.

But maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. The Vaio S Series is a business notebook with an emphasis on battery life and some spiffy aesthetics. The display is 13.3 inches on the diagonal, with a resolution of 1366 by 768. There's an Electrostatic touchpad with multi-finger input, and the notebook measures just under an inch thick and weighs 3.8 pounds. Sony has also decked it out with a magnesium and aluminum casing, "which is light but feels like you have military-style durability," blogger Gina wrote in a March 7 post on the Sony blog. "It also comes in white, which I hear looks pretty insane with the magnesium casing."In addition to the S Series' speedy Intel processor, the biggest news here may be an accessory for the notebook that's actually sold separately, an Extended Battery Sheet. Priced at $150, it adds approximately a pound to the weight of the notebook but brings its potential battery life, when used at default settings, to 15 hours. The Sheet clicks onto the bottom of the notebook, without the need to first power down, and the notebook uses the Battery Sheet's charge before its internal battery.The Vaio S Series also features a backlit keyboard and a Webcam with an Exmor sensor that helps it to perform well in low-light conditions. A CD/DVD player/burner comes standard, but a Blu-ray Disc drive is optional, as is an Intel Wireless Display 2.0 adapter, which enables users to wirelessly share content from the hard drive with an HDTV.The S Series runs Microsoft Windows 7, has an SD memory card slot and a Memory Stick Duo media slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, a VGA output port and an HDMI output. There are also dedicated Vaio, Assist and Web buttons for, respectively, launching Media Gallery software, Vaio Care and accessing the Internet without booting up Windows."We continue to raise the bar when it comes to the mobile computing experience," Mike Lucas, senior vice president of Sony's Networked and Technologies and Services division, said in a statement. "The Vaio S Series laptop makes no compromises by offering the ultimate, full-featured ultra-mobile PC."On Feb. 22, Sony introduced a C Series of consumer Vaio notebooks in neon shades of orange and green, in addition to white and black. Available with 14- or 15.5-inch displays, they feature up to second-generation Intel Core i5 processors with Intel Turbo Boost (on select models) and, like the S Series, AMD Radeon HD 1GB Hybrid Graphics cards.