Sony generated serious buzz last year with its Vaio C1 PictureBook, a sub-three pound mininotebook with a built-in digital camera. The company hopes to thrill again with yesterday's announcement of the new C1XS PictureBook that is smaller and faster and offers better digital images. The new PictureBook weighs just 2.2 pounds, a half-pound lighter than the original, says Mark Hanson, senior director of Sony's Personal Network Solutions Company. The unit's dimensions are 1.14 inches by 9.8 inches by 6 inches. Designers shaved off size and weight by going to a fully enclosed magnesium case, but somehow managed to squeeze in a larger, more comfortable keyboard than before, he says. The unit is powered by a 400MHz PIII processor and has 64MB of memory, a 12GB hard drive, a V.90 modem, an external USB (Universal Serial Bus) floppy drive, and an 8.9-inch active-matrix display. It runs Windows 98 Second Edition, and includes Microsoft Word 2000. It also includes a handful of Sony digital image-editing programs that work with the built-in digital camera, which offers a 50 per cent higher resolution than the old one, he says. The new 410,000-pixel camera, built into the top bezel of the display, offers up to 640-x-480 pixels in still mode. It can also capture video, and with the larger hard drive the previous one-minute limit on video messages is gone, Hanson says. The new PictureBook C1XS should begin shipping in late February for an estimated street price of £1,500. Options include an external 16X CD-ROM drive for $299 and a PC-Card based CD-Rewritable drive.