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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Yet another attempt at an iMac killer: the Vaio W

Yet another attempt at an iMac killer: the Vaio W
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Commodus
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Dec 2, 2002, 11:41 PM
 
The Sony Vaio W

It's been popular in Japan, but Sony only just recently announced it for the US. They're basically trying to position it as a sort of do-it-all device here on this side of the Pacific. In essence, its big feature (aside from being small) is that it operates as a CD and MP3 player when you fold up the keyboard.

In that sense it's interesting, but there's a number of potential drawbacks:

* if you don't like the positioning of the keyboard, you have to buy a new keyboard yourself.

* the Combo drive is mounted diagonally, so that cuts back on its potential speed slightly (Apple noted this as a factor in the iMac's design).

* all the expansion ports are on the sides, and are elevated - so if you connect any peripherals, they may be a bit more accessible but also kill the aesthetics.

* 1.6 GHz Celeron, and no options to pay for something faster... I wouldn't be surprised if the 800 MHz G4 was actually faster!

* the worst part: shared video memory. You may get 512 MB of memory on the spec sheet, but not in practice. And don't even think of playing 3D games with this thing!

So as someone on the Ars Technica forums put it, it's a laptop without the battery. Most would agree that it's not especially good-looking, either, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally I'd much rather get an iMac, and with the Vaio W at $1599 it's not the best option: if you want a good all-in-one computer, the Combo iMac may be the better choice at $100 less; if you want a small computer that doubles as a media centre, for $300 more the 17" iMac is superior in almost every capacity.

The genuinely tough bit for Sony is that, even if the Vaio W's CPU is faster, its speed advantage will probably last all of a month. The iMac is almost certainly going to be updated at MWSF, and not just in raw CPU clock speed.
( Last edited by Commodus; Dec 3, 2002 at 11:44 AM. )
     
neverwind
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Dec 3, 2002, 08:41 AM
 
I actually saw one of these in Japan when I was there last - they are uglier in the flesh than it looks in the pics too.
     
Commodus  (op)
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Dec 3, 2002, 11:54 AM
 
I wouldn't be surprised, neverwind... you get the distinct impression that Sony just wanted a quick buzz generator for the holiday season, and took the least expensive route possible.

Whatever a person might think of Apple, they do at least put a lot of conscious thought into the aesthetics of a product. I don't think I've seen an ugly Mac since the original iMac was introduced (though I do know that some plain PowerMac G3s existed up until the blue-and-white models). The old "exploded box of crayons" colours for the iMac were certainly not universally loveable, but were also far from being ugly.
     
slider
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Dec 3, 2002, 11:57 PM
 
I don't know if it's really fair to call all flat screen computers "iMac killers". It is a natural progression to move to a flat screen computer. The thing with all the other computer is that they all seem to be missing the beauty of a flat screen, the iMac capture the utility of having a flat screen, the others miss the point. When I have played with the iMac, everything else seemed to disappear, it doesn't sound like much in words, but I couldn't get over it and I was conscious of it. It is a work of form and function, the others are the equivalent to beige boxes in comparison. Nothing has changed.
     
Will C
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Dec 4, 2002, 05:42 AM
 
At an inital glance i don't think it looks that bad, but then the spec is not brilliant. I think Sony could have done much better.

BTW, what are 'genuine Windows® operating systems'? - I was unaware that you could get cheap imitations of Windows® (as in M$ windows)
     
Mac Zealot
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Dec 4, 2002, 09:12 PM
 


It's also freaking huge.

Gotta give them credit where it's due, however, I would take that over a profile 4 any day.

The profile 4 iss super ugly + falls over easy.

This isn't an imac killer tho, it's a profile 4 killer
     
claughery
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Dec 4, 2002, 09:42 PM
 
This thing sucks! That is all I can say!!!!
Dual 1.8 G5, 23" cinema oldschool, PB 1.5 ghz 12" SD, iBook 1.07 Ghz, mac mini 1.42, iPod mini, iPod photo 40gb, SE K700i
     
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Dec 5, 2002, 06:57 PM
 
Remember when SJ announce the iMac and he was saying the initial design was an iMac with the back chopped off? That's all anyone is coming up with, but the assless iMac would still have looked better and lcd aio I have seen so far.

BTW- can you imagine cables coming out of the side of this thing, yikes.
     
Socially Awkward Solo
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Dec 5, 2002, 11:28 PM
 
Originally posted by Mac Zealot:


It's also freaking huge.

That thing from the side is the most horrid thing I have ever seen!

"Laugh it up, fuzz ball!"
     
Commodus  (op)
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Dec 6, 2002, 01:32 AM
 
Well, the results are in: ZDNet gives the Vaio W a 6.4, while the iMac gets 7.9.

ZDNet seems to basically acknowledge the main complaints about it. You can't move the keyboard - which is just as well, as the screen and speakers are too small for distance viewing (one definite plus to the 17" iMac is watching DVDs on it). The 3D performance is the absolute pits, which rules out games. Lastly, there's no DVD burning, whether built-in or as an option.

They're surprisingly kind in the wording of the review itself, but between it and the score you can still tell that they think this to be much more of a niche product than Sony would like to admit. The iMac is more of a balanced machine, and (more importantly) Apple has a number of different models for those who want more or less.

It's sort of interesting what's happening with the all-in-one market this year. I hate to sound overly enthusiastic, but Apple basically addressed the majority of concerns people have for all-in-one machines: the optical drive is perfectly horizontal and located at the front of the system, the display isn't locked to one position, and the neck makes it much easier to carry. And then Gateway and Sony come into the market, ignore much of what Apple has done, and then wonder why their systems aren't runaway successes.

Of course, most any system that looked vaguely like the iMac would probably see its manufacturer in court before long. An added benefit for Apple?
     
Nathan Adams
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Dec 6, 2002, 04:32 AM
 
this is not meant to be an iMac killer. This is for the VERY casual computer user. No work, no games as such, just as a kind of media centre and browsing the net.

I also saw these in Japan at the Sony Tower when they first came out (i can still remember the tv ads, with 'whatever' by oasis playing). They're actually quite nice little computers. Solidly built, and for what they do, very much suited. And the idea of folding up the keyboard when not in use is brilliant design. When you fold it up, the screen defaults to a display of a digital clock.

Just because it's not a Mac is no reason the blast it. If I wasn't on a mac, Sony's vaio's would be my first choice.
     
slider
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Dec 6, 2002, 01:16 PM
 
Originally posted by Nathan Adams:
this is not meant to be an iMac killer. This is for the VERY casual computer user. No work, no games as such, just as a kind of media centre and browsing the net.

I also saw these in Japan at the Sony Tower when they first came out (i can still remember the tv ads, with 'whatever' by oasis playing). They're actually quite nice little computers. Solidly built, and for what they do, very much suited. And the idea of folding up the keyboard when not in use is brilliant design. When you fold it up, the screen defaults to a display of a digital clock.

Just because it's not a Mac is no reason the blast it. If I wasn't on a mac, Sony's vaio's would be my first choice.
Casual computing for $1600, OK

BTW, there is a general consensus among many Mac users that if they had to buy a Windoze machine they would buy a Sony. The bashing of this machines comes from the overall design, not because it's not a Mac.
     
ryju
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Dec 11, 2002, 08:44 PM
 
It doesn't remind me at all of the FP imac, just because it's an all in one design doesn't always mean it's trying to compete with the iMac. I'm sure that wasn't the intention though.
It actually looks kinda cool.
     
Superchicken
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Dec 12, 2002, 10:04 PM
 
I don't see Sony as trying to compete with Apple, Sony and Apple are the ones who pionnered Firewire, Sony and Apple are both very similar they acctually do inovate I think if anything sony would wanna keep apple around so that they're not the only inovators in the consumer market!

That said... this thing's pretty scarry looking... better than the crap comming outa gateway though. If the plugs plugged into the bottom part or if the LCD covered them, and if it ran something better than a Celeron... and if it didn't run windows or if I wanted to fiddle with Linux... or if I NEEDED to run windows for something... I'd probably look at something like this... although in the end I'd probably still go for one of Sony's VAIO towers.
     
iThink
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Dec 13, 2002, 09:08 AM
 
For those of *us* old enough to remember, Sony used to design for Apple way back when. For Wintel machines, Sony's designs are the best, IMO.

This particular machine looks better in person than it does in pictures. It's not that bad, actually. It has a very sleek and futuristic look to it. When the keyboard folds up the screen turns black and an LED clock appears on the screen, along with a little calendar, both of them digital and in the middle, that you can see from a distance.

The keyboard is very quiet, also. It's not a cheap machine. It may not be the fastest, but it's not a bad machine.

That much said, the eMac isn't going to win any awards for beauty either. But, a lot of people really like it and think it's a great deal. I ordered the Superdrive eMac two days ago and it will be here next week. I had to accept that I was willing to live with that huge CRT design on a desk, but because my experience with the new iMacs has shown that the LCDs tend to fade over time, I opted for the eMac.
     
icruise
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Dec 14, 2002, 10:24 AM
 
This is not really a bad looking machine in person -- slick as some have said. But I think the whole "attached keyboard folds up onto the screen" thing isn't a good idea. I'm sure it was an attempt to save deskspace when it wasn't in use (something important to many in Japan in particular) but it really limits how you can position the keyboard, and of course the monitor is also not nearly as adjustable as the imac's.

Sony has some of the best designs out there (actually, most of the big Japanese makers are far ahead of the likes of Dell and Gateway in terms of esthetics).
     
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Dec 14, 2002, 11:38 AM
 
Honestly, at this point just get a laptop, keyboard folds up on that too
     
Mac Zealot
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Dec 15, 2002, 05:07 AM
 
The idea wasn't to flame every pc dude. I actually like sony VAIOs and those are without a doubt the only OEM PCs I'd ever buy.
In a realm beyond site, the sky shines gold, not blue, there the Triforce's might makes mortal dreams come true.
     
Commodus  (op)
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Dec 15, 2002, 07:42 AM
 
You might want to be careful about buying a Sony... the designs might be unique, but should they break I hear that the tech support for them is less than stellar. That's obviously more of a problem for laptops than desktops, but it's there.
     
coolmac
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Dec 15, 2002, 10:10 AM
 
Have any of you seen the Sony W in person?

I saw it and played with it at a CompUSA and believe me it does not hold a candle to the iMac.

Yes it's a cool looking thing but as far as design and usability its not even close.
     
slider
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Dec 15, 2002, 12:05 PM
 
No, I have not seen on in real life, but as soon as I do you can bet I'll play with it just because. But like I said before, start sticking an ethernet cable, usb cables, and all the rest, it's gonna look like hell. Sure you could tie them all together but then adjusting the monitor becomes stiff, Right?
     
DaKiwi2788
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Dec 17, 2002, 04:06 AM
 
Originally posted by Mac Zealot:

Ewwwww! It looks like something from Star Trek
-Emily

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
Abraham Lincoln
     
icruise
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Dec 17, 2002, 06:14 PM
 
Hey, you're right! But does anyone else think it isn't entirely relevant what the computer looks like from the bottom/back? This computer was designed to be put on a desk against a wall. The keyboard folds up so you can use the desk for other things when the computer is not in use. I don't think you would actually see the back in most situations. And from what I could tell the cables and things wouldn't just stick out the side in mid-air -- you could arrange them so they would be out of sight.

I went to the store and looked at this model again today. I still think it is not bad looking, but I would take an iMac instead in a second.
     
Superchicken
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Dec 18, 2002, 08:39 AM
 
You know... it really does look like something you'd see on star trek.. hahaha

When do I get my iEnterprise-E?
     
   
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