Tag Archives: vaio

Sony enter the netbook market

Sony have entered the netbook market with their new W Series.

vaiowseries

Sony are not new to making small laptops, I had the really nice SRX41P back when I worked for the Western Colleges Consortium, and currently have been playing with the P series.

However one thing you could always say about Sony VAIO small laptops was though they were small in size, they were big in price. The SRX41P was nearly £2000, whilst current small models are nearly as expensive.

However the W series is going to be much cheaper, currently $500 in the US, UK pricing has yet to be announced, but I would guess it would be in the £400 mark.

It’s not a netbook that is going to be a real powerhouse. Running Windows XP, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB HDD it’s no different to a lot of netbooks in the market. It has a 10.1″ screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

As well as the ubiquitous Sony Memory Stick Duo slot there is also (like the P series) a SD card slot. Alas like a lot of netbooks it only has a two hour battery life.

It doesn’t look a lot different to other netbooks (well except you can get it in pink) but Sony is a brand that a lot of people trust and therefore I expect it might sell quite well to people who like Sony stuff, get the feeling that they may be disappointed.

Does make you wonder though if Apple will now take the plunge and enter the netbook market?

Engineerlingly Small

One of the nice things about my job and working on the MoLeNET programme is the fact that I can try out new pieces of equipment and wonder about their impact on our learners and learning.

I have written (and spoken) about the new breed of micro-laptops that surfaced last year starting wirth the Asus EeePC. Since then the number and type of micro-laptops have blossomed. So much so that the original 7″ Asus EeePC is now no longer available. Asus have improved upon their original concept and others have copied them. The Asus 901 for example has the same form factor as the first model, but now has a 8.9″ screen which does make a difference in how usable it is.

One micro-laptop which I did like was the HP 2133 which came with the bigger 8.9″ screen and importantly a 90% size keyboard. Though I liked the Asus EeePC the keybvoard was rather too small for me and I know others found it difficult to type large amounts of text on it. The HP 2133 was well suited to those who found the smaller micro-laptops too much of a microscopic size. However no point in recommending the HP 2133 as HP have decided to withdraw that model. Their replacement, the HP 2140 has a similar form factor to the 2133, included the nice keyboard, but now has a10.1″ screen. You have to ask is it a micro-laptop or is really no longer that form factor and more a subnotebook now?

One factor common to both of these was the linux operating system used instead of Windows. The Xandros on the Asus is very easy and simple to use, whilst the Suse Desktop OS used on the HP 2133 allowed more flexibiloity in installing software, not impossible on the Asus, just easier.

More recently I have been using a totallt different type of micro-laptop, the Sony VAIO P Series. In many ways this couldn’t be more different. It runs WIndows Vista. It has an 8″ (20.3cm) widescreen screen with a 1600×768 screen resolution. One aspect I do like about it is that it has a Apple’esque nearly full size keyboard which works for typiing for me. This blog entry for example was written on it.

Engineerlingly Small

As well as wireless and Bluetooth it also supports HDSPA. remove the battery insert your 3G SIM card and using a simple application, adjust the setrtings use the VAIO with a 3G connection without having to worry about plugging in a dongle or tethering to a phone as a modem.

It also looks like Sony have been listening to their customers and as well as a Memory Stick slot the VAIO also has a SD card slot. Considering how much use I now make of SD cards with cameras, mp3 recorders and sharing files, the SD card slot is very welcome.

The one thing which everyone comments on is the size and weight, it weighs very little and is only 24.5 by 12 cm.

Such a small device has to make compromises and the screen resolution and size means that some people may have difficulty with the Vista interface.

Battery life is pretty good and you can purchase an extended battery which will last twice as long. I am currently getting about 2 hours out of the standard battery.

So why wouldn’t everyone get one?

Well the price of course!

The VAIO UX1XN UMPC which came out in 2007 cost nerly £2000. The TX series of micro-laptops from Sony cost about £1400.

The P series is about £850 though you can spend more and get the model with the SSD drive. So for the price of one P series you could get three Auss EeePCs.

Sony VAIO UX1XN as a conference tool

I have always liked the Sony VAIO UX1XN.

I have always been disappointed with the battery life. My original intention was to use the UX1XN as my main conference computer, my first attempt was at the JISC digitisation conference in Cardiff back in 2007.

Here Brian Kelly is presenting…

Sony VAIO UX1XN as a conference tool

It’s small enough to be unintrusive, unlike a laptop which can be a bit of a barrier, it has two cameras which enable me to send images to Flickr or take short video clips, and the keyboard is usable unlike the fiddly mobile phone type split keyboard of the Q1 Ultra. You can also use it without needing to put it on the table or on your lap which makes it ideal in the conference hall or break-out room environment.

However as I said at the beginning the battery life is the downer, I only really get about an hour and half from it, and this means that it won’t last the day at a conference.

So recently I ordered the extended battery for it, which should make it usable and hopefully last the day at a meeting or a conference.

I have therefore been practicing using the keyboard, which is quite thumbs orientated, and have managed to get a reasonable speed using it.

I wouldn’t want to write a long blog entry (like this one) on it, but for entering URLs or posting tweets or jaiku postings, I think it will work just fine.

Now of course what works well in the conference means that it would work equally well in the classroom or lecture theatre or workshop as a communication tool for learners.

Alas Sony no longer produce the UX1XN in the UK and though available from some suppliers still, generally you would need to get another UMPC if you were going to provide them to learners.

Is the UMPC the future?

The BBC reporting from CES in Las Vegas after talking to the likes of Intel says

The desktop PC’s days of dominance could be numbered as laptops and ultra-mobile PCs begin to reap the benefit of ever greater, and more efficient, computing power.

Are we going to see the end of the desktop PC?

Given a choice I much prefer a desktop over an ultra mobile PC (umpc) for what I would call working (you know writing blog entries, abstracts, reports, long e-mails, etc…)

However when it comes to browsing, video, audio, I am quite happy with a mobile device.

Is the UMPC the future?

I do like the Sony VAIO UX1XN as it comes (as standard) with a docking station which allows you to use it both as an umpc on the move, then when back in the office, slide it into the docking station and connected to a keyboard, mouse and (large) monitor I have my desktop.

So is the UMPC (and laptops) the future of computing, from the consumers’ perspective (and thus our learners) I think it certainly is.

"it's too flawed to be anything other than a novelty"

The Guardian has reviewed the Sony VAIO UX1XN and found that though a wonderment of design, it is somewhat fiddly to use.

But delightful though this notebook is to look at and hold, it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty.

UX1XN

The review also mentions issues with the keyboard and the tablet input, which I both agree with.

… there’s the first disappointment – the keyboard. You wouldn’t want to do much more than tap out an email on it, as the size of the keys make it no good for touch-typing. Double-thumb input is feasible, but the tiny keys make it hard to be accurate.

and

The touchscreen is a nightmare. Fiddly to calibrate, it failed to retain its settings and eventually refused even to acknowledge that it was in fact a touchscreen. So I resorted to the pointing device.

I still think it is useful and not as flawed as the review makes out, and the more I use it, the more uses I find for it.