Sony will replace hard disks with flash memory when it launches a new model of its Vaio U laptop next week, it said today. The computer will be one of the first on the market that uses flash memory in place of magnetic storage. Flash has long been eyed as a potential replacement for hard drives because it is lighter, runs silently, offers faster data access, and uses less power, but price has always been an obstacle.
The cost per bit of flash storage is still more expensive than hard drives, but it has fallen to a level where some PC makers are experimenting with flash drives. The Vaio UX90 will come with 16GB of flash memory storage in place of the 30GB hard drive on the original model. It will cost around $1805, or about $345 more expensive than the disk-based model, and go on sale in Japan on July 3.