The enthusiasm of local consumers for new technologies has prompted electronics giant Sony to choose Hong Kong as the first country after Japan to see the latest evolution in its Vaio line of personal computers. The new products further integrate audio-visual (AV) capabilities into the PC platform. Sony senior vice-president Keiji Kimura said: 'This market is very advanced, and very accepting of new technology. That is why we decided Hong Kong is to be the second place we would introduce this new direction for Vaio. This place [Hong Kong] is probably the most advanced in Asia.' Sony yesterday launched the VGN-A17GP, the first notebook model in Hong Kong to be released under its new Vaio strategy. The notebook has a 1.66-gigahertz Intel Pentium M processor and a 15-inch thin-film transistor screen that uses Sony's ErgoBright technology, which allows for brightness to be adjusted automatically. It also has a built-in DVD-RW drive. It includes Sony's own Motion Realityvideo processor and S-Motion digital amplifier, which the company claims significantly improve multimedia performance. On the software side, it includes software for mastering video and audio and recording television programmes. The Vaio brand, which stands for video audio integrated operation, was launched in 1996. Mr Kimura said Sony always intended the brand to combine computing power with AV capabilities. But limitations in the past caused by processing power and other hardware issues meant PCs now offered many more AV capabilities. 'With video playback on a PC at that time, we couldn't get the quality comparable to video,' he said. The development of the PC as a multimedia platform has been helped along by the emergence of new technologies including DVD and MP3. Hardware improvements coupled with the growing use of PCs for entertainment had convinced Sony that consumers were ready for the next step in AV-PC integration, Mr Kimura said. 'Now the PC platform is the most powerful AV platform.' Compared with in 1996, when the Vaio line was launched, AV-PC integration was becoming mainstream, he said. The VGN-417GP should be available locally in mid-June, but Sony is accepting pre-orders at Vaio official dealers between today and June 1. Jonathan Cheung, information technology product manager at Sony Hong Kong, said Sony was planning a three-pronged distribution strategy for the new Vaio. The new notebook will be available directly from Sony through its Sony stores, through AV shops such as Broadway and from personal computer outlets. Under its strategy of integrating AV and PC products, Sony has announced the Japanese launch of hard disk-based video and audio products. These are also expected to be launched in Hong Kong ahead of the rest of the world, although no dates have been set for their release.