This is a belated post on the Sony VAIO launch this Thursday. I think [other](http://claudia.sg/2008/08/vaio-redefined-and-launched-3-latest-models/) bloggers have covered the main specs of the new Z, FW and SR laptops and talked about how VAIO is being [redefined](http://izreloaded.blogspot.com/2008/08/sony-unveils-new-vaio-direction-with-3.html), so I won’t repeat the same. In the same spirit as my earlier post on [HP versus Mac](http://vantan.org/archives/2008/06/hp_voodoo_envy1.php), I will write from a more comparative point of view.
Before the event, we were asked to select a personality type for a more customised experience. Being an MBA student I chose to be ‘driven’. So I got to see the new Sony ultraportable Z series. I can see this as a challenge to HP’s Mini-note PC and Lenovo’s ultraportable ThinkPad range.
All the new Sony VAIO models have a keyboard similar to Apple’s MacBook. Somehow I felt that the MacBook keys were more firmly fitted in while there are gaps in the Sony keys. However I was assured by the Sony folks that the keyboard was very sturdy and that each key was firmly screwed in.
It was a good idea to display a Z-series laptop that was taken apart, so we could see the 12-layered motherboard which allowed the laptop to be more compact in size. The photo above is a ‘before’ and ‘after’ to show the improvement made with the new model.
Another good idea for all 3 models was to move the battery to the spine, so that there would be more space for other components. I thought it was cool to have your battery in the form of a cylinder, like a baton.
A Sony employee also explained why there were so many holes on some of the components, like the keyboard. It was to reduce the overall weight of the laptop. However they also didn’t blatantly drill holes in other components if it led to further steps in the production process. It is good to hear about these little anecdotes which don’t get included in the press releases.
The new VAIO series offers more than hardware. Sony also wrote its own software to allow video editing. I assume this is partly because Windows Movie Maker is definitely no challenge to iMovie, and Sony also wanted to showcase its Blu-ray and HD technologies. However Sony’s software is differentiated from iMovie in that it allows you to choose simultaneous video footage at various angles.
Interestingly, HP also had to write its own software for the TouchSmart, which sits on top of the Windows Vista platform. Both companies’ actions indicate to me that Microsoft isn’t doing enough to match Apple in terms of providing user-friendly personal software, and so its partners have to rise to the task.
The graphics on this Sony flatscreen monitor, connected to the VAIO laptop below, were sharper than any I’ve seen before.
One product that did not get the press releases and fanfare, but was something I’d definitely want to have, is Sony’s CP digital photo frame. I have seem so many types of photo frames but not one that looked so good and also could download RSS feeds via wi-fi! Great idea.
I was most impressed with the VAIO boss who came from Tokyo, who spoke good English and knew his products inside out. I met him after the presentation and complimented him. He introduced the formula DESIGN = STYLE + FUNCTION which I agree with. No point having something nice to look at that is useless. And if you design something that’s just functional, it becomes a commodity product and not a differentiating factor. Also, we were reminded that Sony’s background was in audio and visual products and thus it was also a key feature in their VAIO series.
Among the PC laptop manufacturers, Sony is definitely leading the pack for looks combined with functionality. Being primarily a Mac user now, I expect form and function combined. I know a formerly hardcore Mac designer friend who fell in love with Sony after a while. Having said that, I am still quite happy with my MacBook Pro.
Thank you to [Ben Koe](http://eok.net/) of [Hill & Knowlton](http://www.hillandknowlton.com/) for inviting me to this event!