11 Replies to “Is Sony Back?”

  1. This reminds me of a time last week at the haas business building. A student had forgot his laptop and left it on a desk near me for many hours. It looked just like the Sony! Very thin and flashy.

    This week is finals week at cal. I used to go to cafes, but I can get free internet in the buildings on campus. Now, I am listening to a student practice piano in the music department. I just don’t want to pay for the expensive drinks anymore. Plus, the doe library is open 24 hours for this week. Very exciting!

  2. That’s a really impressive laptop. It’s reasonably comparable with the MacBook Air on most specifications apart from thickness – where the Sony wins hands down. It’s also cheaper, and it’s very elegant looking – the monochrome keyboard is, in my opinion, cleaner looking than the Apple product (although clearly modelled on it).

    It’s weak points are battery life, and weight. It gets around 3 hours compared to 5 on the MacBook, and is 17% heavier.

    The iPad 3G on the other hand – which is an almost identical volume is only 45% of the weight of the Vaio, and has a 10 hour battery life.

    You have to try very hard to use up the battery on an iPad in a single day unless you spend all your time playing 3d games. This is very important for a more ‘personal’ mobile device that people will be using as an e-reader.

    So – although the Sony does *look* think and light, and is a truly great Windows laptop, it’s qualitatively totally different from the iPad.

    Note – on Sony’s site they quote a 14 hour battery life. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that that only achieved if you attach a giant external battery which pushes the thickness and weight up dramatically. Having said that, the external battery is included in the price which makes this thing into a great deal, though one with a number of compromises.

  3. The iPad weighs much less than the VAIO? The Vaio Series X weighs almost nothing. Looking up stats I find Vaio < 700 g, iPad = 1.5 ld = 680 g, that is, the same. But I agree, the two products have much different uses and the iPad is more portable due to the longer battery life.

  4. The iPad battery life is actually too good for comparison with general-purpose laptops. Had they been willing to settle for the usual 5 hours the product could indeed have been a lot thinner and lighter. But Apple wanted iPad to be an excellent e-book reader, which means the Kindle is part of the comparison set.

    Sony makes great super-thin laptops and has been doing so for more than a decade. The two minor nits I’ve had with the line in the past were: (1) those perfectly-flat perfectly-rectangular screens and bases can be a little fragile – prone to flex or break. (The Air’s curviness probably makes it better in that regard) (2) one cost of all the sleekness tends to be a frequent need to plug in a mass of dongles or an extra battery to get Real Work done.

    Still, these are all great machines. And iPad is in many ways an odd compromise that might not be right for you yet.

  5. Seth – you’re absolutely right. I must have misread the figures for the Vaio. That makes it extremely impressive.

    It’s worth saying though that the battery life isn’t just ‘more’ – the reason why I used the word qualitative is that the effect of battery life doesn’t just increase linearly – there are important thresholds that change the nature of the device.

    The iPad is in a different category as far as this is concerned – you can safely rely on not having to charge it during the day, which means you never have to think about carrying a charger or planning your usage of it. That’s one of the things that makes it interesting, because it enables different behavior.

    Sony realize this too – which is why they include the giant external battery. Given that there was clearly no way for them to get close to this in an ultralight laptop, this seems like a really good decision.

  6. @Robin, “the effect of battery life doesn’t just increase linearly – there are important thresholds that change the nature of the device”

    Good point.

  7. I bought a Vaio a few months ago, the top of the line f-series that just came out. The performance has been great, but I’m otherwise disappointed. The screen sucks (too dim), the battery life is listed at 3 hours, but often runs out after just over an hour of not that heavy use, the hdmi and vga cable are adjacent to each other so I can’t plug both in at the same time, the fan is extremely noisy (which message boards indicate is a problem on all the recent Vaio’s of my model type), and to get it repaired I have to deal with Sony’s horrible customer support and ship in, meaning losing access to my computer for possibly weeks (simply not a viable option). Apple tends to get all the litle things right.

  8. I had a chance to handle one of those vaio x’s tonight at the QS show and tell. It’s pretty amazing and it does feel noticeably lighter than the iPad even though the difference is very slight. It’s also very expensive for the spec – it has a single core atom processor and integrated graphics, so it’s basically a netbook.

  9. I’ll note that you can run dragon dictate on an ipad. I’m really curious how the next generation of ipads turns out, though it is, in many ways, a more functional itouch for people with old eyes.

  10. What posture were the two users adopting to interface with their devices? The problem with a laptop is that it’s essentially a desktop with a convenient hinge joining screen and keyboard: you interface with it in the same way and with the same posture (and attitude) as a desktop. The iPad, by comparison, is addressed as you would a pad of paper, a book, a stack of photos, and that makes it much less “clunky” than mere size might indicate.

    I think that’s the hidden feature of the iPad that many techie critics miss.

  11. Both users were sitting at cafe tables. The iPad is hunt and peck, a laptop touch typing. So if you’re doing a lot of pointer movement stuff the iPad is much better, if you’re doing a lot of typing a laptop is much better.

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