Sony shows off new goods: laptops, downloadable movies, cameras, oh my!

Sony has given us a taste of what it has coming for the rest of the year, and there’s good news if you like thin laptops, compact cameras, and new gear for your home theatre.

First up is some pretty big news for computers, and by big we mean “big computer in a small package”. Sony’s competitor to the MacBook Air is finally coming in the form of Sony’s Z series VAIO, a new ultra-thin laptop featuring a very fast 2nd generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, 6.5 hour battery, and two 256GB solid state drives running in RAID. Measuring only 16.65mm and weighing a little over a kilo, it’s one of the thinnest laptops you’re likely to put your eyes on, but still manages to boast some huge features, including an external Blu-ray drive that also features a Radeon HD 6650 1GB graphics card built-in.

We fell in love just looking at the VAIO Z series, but have to wonder about the price: at $3999, it’s a fair distance off from truly competing with the MacBook Air, though it does have a lot more power inside than Apple’s ultra-thin.

Over on the camera side, Sony is updating it’s ultra-small mirror-less interchangeable NEX system of cameras with the C3, a camera that is actually the smallest in the world to feature an APS-C sensor (like that found in most prosumer and enthusiast digital SLR cameras). The NEX-C3 weighs only 225 grams and still manages to throw in 16.2 megapixels, 720p HD video capture, a tilting LCD screen, a better battery life than last year’s NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras, customisable buttons along the back, and a $849 price-tag for a single-lens kit.

We’re already keen to take the new C3 for a spin, but one of the things that totally impressed us was a third party accessory you can throw on the Sony NEX cameras ┬áto let you stick non-Sony lenses on the camera. We’re told that these accessories can be grabbed pretty easily from places like eBay, and are made to support lenses from manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Leica.

Not a fan of these newer compact interchangeable lens cameras? That’s ok, as Sony is giving its Alpha DSLR series an update too. The new A35 ($949 with a single-lens) features the translucent mirror technology released last year, Full HD video recording, high-speed 7fps shooting, and a 16.2 megapixel sensor.

Your home theatre looks to be getting a slight upgrade too, with Sony releasing a new PVR with 1 terabyte of storage, twin tuner, and the ability to record 3D content, a first for Sony PVRs. Available now, the SVRHDT1000 will cost $599.

There’s a few new home theatre systems too, with a $349 wall-mountable micro Hi-Fi featuring an integrated iPod dock and DAB+, a 2.1 channel $899 wall-mountable (above) Blu-ray home theatre system with built-in DLNA and SACD playback, and a 5.1 channel tallboy Blu-ray home system with 1000W RMS and an iPod dock for $899.

And then there’s the network services, an area Sony is keen to push. Bravia TVs currently have around twenty video channels using IPTV, but it will be adding at least one new station this month, and it’s sure to keep the kids happy: WiggleTime TV, a new channel that’ll give you unlimited Wiggles for eight bucks a month, with three hours new content each month.

Movies on demand are also here – finally – with the service providing both standard and high definition content from at little as $4 per movie. Customers can find the videos on network-enabled Bravia TVs, Blu-ray players, and Blu-ray home theatre systems and will have 30 days to start watching each rented title, with 48 hours to finish once they’ve begun. Interestingly, Sony hasn’t said if the PlayStation 3 is included as one of the Blu-ray players that will get the content.