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Sony's New Vaio PCG-TR1A: 12" Powerbook Killer? 452

Anonymous Howard writes "Sony has a hot new subnote on it's hand: the Vaio PCG-TR1A. This subnote is packed full of features: integrated camera (still and video), 10.6 inch bright wide-format screen, 900MHz Centrino, CD-RW/DVD Combo drive, 30GB drive, 802.11b, two usb ports, firewire, 3.11 pounds and a magnesium alloy case. The thing looks really cool. For me, it's the first subnote that actually gives me a viable option for purchase instead of a the Apple Powerbook 12". Read a article about it over at Designtechnica. Check out this forum thread that has good pics, other then the stock pics, next to a VPR Matrix 200A5."
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Sony's New Vaio PCG-TR1A: 12" Powerbook Killer?

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  • by Triumph The Insult C ( 586706 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:26PM (#6495010) Homepage Journal _latit_x200.htm []. it's pretty nice, although i prefer the c400 myself. the x200 is just too small.
  • nope (Score:3, Informative)

    by SweetAndSourJesus ( 555410 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:28PM (#6495022)
    4.6 lbs [].
  • by csnydermvpsoft ( 596111 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:30PM (#6495036)
    Hmm... you obviously haven't looked very hard [].
  • A Question (Score:5, Informative)

    by X-wes ( 629917 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:31PM (#6495039)

    Seems Slashdotted--Here are some pics [] from []

    Not so much a comment as a question...

    What has really set the Vaio apart from ye olde everyday laptop was the interesting addition of the integrated still/video camera. Are there any other manufacturers out who do this? it really usable as an integrated camera?

  • VAIO no-way (Score:4, Informative)

    by mpd2014 ( 608255 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:32PM (#6495046)
    I recently sold my Vaio after owning it for less than a year. Memory had problems, seemed slow and just did not live up to expectations. I recently bought a Mac PowerBook G4, my first Mac laptop and I am extremely pleased with it. Airport Extreme 802.11G works flawlessly with my Linksys router using the G standard, I have Apache, mod_perl, MySQL, PhP and host of other apps installed all working flawlessly. If you're looking for a great UI with unix under the hood look no further.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <`be' `at' `'> on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:37PM (#6495092) Homepage Journal
    But yeah there's a little problem with calling it a "powerbook killer" for one, it doesn't run Mac OS. That would be a key component for it to "kill" the power book's notebook share. Plus lets face it there are many laptops for many needs. Many things come into play when purchasing a laptop and best bang for the buck seems to be the #1 reason people actually buy laptops.

    While this may be cool (wouldn't know can't read the article), let's face it people will sacrifice weight, size, and battery life for a cheaper model that does the same thing. UNLESS they are walking around with the thing, or travel a lot, or have a particular breifcase they'd like this to fit it. Believe it or not I've seen someone buy a new laptop because it was the right "size" of the breif case they had grown quite accustomed to.

    12" is hard to read at a res bigger than 1024x768 as well. I really don't see this thing killing anything as there are so many laptops on the market now that no one can decide on one "ultimate" laptop.

  • Re:Sony Notebook?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:40PM (#6495105)
    Well...yes. I just did so last Friday. I have an old PCG-C1VN (the original Picturebook) with the Transmeta 600MHz. It came with ME preinstalled (worthless). I have run several different Linux distros on it. On Friday I reformatted it and installed W2K as I just got a T-Mobile wireless Internet card (only works on Windows...out of the box) and wanted to use it on my smallest laptop. Went to Sony's sight and clicked on the link for Installing W2K on the PCG-C1VN. Had all the drivers, and all "special instructions" for such things as installing the drivers in the right order (dependancies in effect) and getting W2K to allow the odd (1024x480) resolution. Lots of drivers to download, but no real problems. Works great with my T-Mobile card. All that said, it isn't the most useful notebook PC in the world...I much prefer my Thinkpad with SuSE 8.2.

  • Re:Sony Notebook?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aix ( 218662 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:42PM (#6495124) Homepage
    I don't know about other models, but until I dropped it and broke the screen after 3+ years, I was very happy running Red Hat, then Debian and then Gentoo on my Vaio PCG-XG9. I found support for pretty much everything but the WinModem. A single anecdote does not a dataset make, but hey, you asked "Have you *EVER* tried..." and yes, I have. Successfully.
  • Re:Power comparison (Score:2, Informative)

    by uunh haun ( 638348 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:44PM (#6495131)
    that's 867
  • Re:3.11 Lbs (Score:2, Informative)

    by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:45PM (#6495136) Homepage
    yeah and on my 12 in PB, I get a DVD-RW/CD-RW
  • by rtnz ( 207422 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:46PM (#6495143) Homepage
    Not sure if this one runs Linux but anyone else running Linux on Sony Laptops should check out the linux-sony mailing list [].
  • by Triumph The Insult C ( 586706 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:50PM (#6495161) Homepage Journal
    110 minutes? maybe burning cds back to back to back. i had one on for at least 3 hours, surfing over wireless
  • by Triumph The Insult C ( 586706 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:54PM (#6495188) Homepage Journal
    why would one buy an ultra-small laptop, only to then need a dvd burner or external drive? if i'm going to shell out $$ for an uber-small laptop, i want it as light as possible

    besides ... are there any actual valid uses for an optical disc reader these days?
  • Re:3.11 Lbs (Score:3, Informative)

    by X_Caffeine ( 451624 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:57PM (#6495208)
    I've been carrying a Vaio Z505 for about three years now, and have never once been in a situation where I was away from home and needed the optical drive. I just don't install software when I'm working or surfing at a coffee shop.

    And flimsy? What, do you mean it's flexible or something? Sony shipped laptops with metal (magnesium alloy) frames long before the "tibook" came out.

    That said, I'll be picking up an iBook soon... but I sure wish they would shave a few pounds off it by leaving out the optical drive.
  • by rtnz ( 207422 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:03PM (#6495255) Homepage
    This is not true. There are plenty of people including me running ACPI on a sony-laptop without any problems. You can check out the mailing list archives [] for more info. The problem is that most distro's don't include ACPI by default (except SuSe at least), but the new RedHat beta that came out today includes ACPI in it. Building your own kernel with the ACPI patch is not a bit deal as well.
  • Re:Untapped Market? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ksi440 ( 691272 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:10PM (#6495287)
    Pointed out earlier in this thread, but Fujitsu [] seems to be the leader in this area.

    Check here [] and look at the ultraportable section. The specs on the P5000 [] seem to match your requirements.

    Also, on the seriously portable side, they have the P1000 [] (2.2 lbs, no cd) and the P2000 [] (3.4 lbs, DVD ).

  • by haa...jesus christ ( 576980 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:22PM (#6495354)
    i have the x200 and don't think it's too small. i'm not a small guy (6'2"), and i find the keyboard comfortable. and it's much less painful to carry than my ti book.
  • by rzbx ( 236929 ) <slashdot&rzbx,org> on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:45PM (#6495502) Homepage
    Want good price and small size. Check out the Fujitsu P2000 series. Starting at around $1300.

    Few quick specs:
    Transmeta 933mhz Crusoe
    10.6" Widescreen SXGA
    256 RAM, up to 384
    DVD/CD-RW drive
    Mobility Radeon
    2.8-3.4 lbs
    optional built in wireless as well

    Too small for me though, so I bought the S2000 with the AMD proc.
  • Firewire? (Score:3, Informative)

    by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:46PM (#6495510)
    Knowing Sony, they're probably going to be those crippled (as in no power supply wires) iLink ports. I can't tell from the linked pictures. If so, you can forget about using Firewire to charge an iPod, or using a bus-powered hard drive.
  • Re:Linux support (Score:2, Informative)

    by naitro ( 680425 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:51PM (#6495536)
    I have a 12" PowerBook G4 which I run Debian on.

    The 802.11g-chip isn't supported by Linux at all and nVidia doesn't release their Linux drivers for PowerPC - I wouldn't call that "very well supported".

    But apart from the WLAN and the fancy graphic drivers (I use the one bundled with XFree86 4.3.0) it works like a charm :-).
  • by huntz0r ( 580511 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:52PM (#6495549)
    However, something worth mentioning is that the Sony is slightly smaller and significantly lighter than the 12" Powerbook (4.6 vs 3.1 lb, quite a difference proportionally). It may be close enough to compare with the Apple, but its design was targetted differently; it sacrifices some features and some value in trade for improved portability.

    With all portables, there is a tradeoff between cheap, light, and powerful. Pick two :)
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:23PM (#6495704) Homepage Journal

    The Sony has a higher resolution LCD panel (1280 * 768). The Dell's only 1024 * 768.


  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by 73939133 ( 676561 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:07PM (#6495960)
    Exactly what is so "proprietary" about Mac OS X that is scaring you away?

    Well, the audio and video APIs, for example, which are still based on Cocoa and are a pain to use. And the Mac doesn't use an X11 desktop, it only runs X11 apps under Aqua, so X11 apps don't have good desktop integration. And OS X graphics isn't exactly fast. And on and on.

    Overall, I have found that OS X is usable as a sort-of UNIX laptop, but less than ideal. Get one if you need to run OS X apps. If all applications you want to run are Linux/UNIX apps, an x86 laptop running Linux is cheaper, faster, and easier to install and maintain.
  • by 73939133 ( 676561 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:13PM (#6495994)
    Apple's 12" Powerbook costs $1,600 ($1,400 for students), while the new Sony Vaio is expected to cost around $2,000.

    That's probably because the Sony hardware is quite a bit nicer: 3 pounds vs. 4.6 pounds, 1280x768 screen vs. 1024x768 screen, PCMCIA slot vs. no PCMCIA slot, USB2 vs. no USB2. The difference in weight alone is a huge difference and should more than account for the price difference.

    If you want something directly comparable to the 12" Powerbook, the Fujitsu P5000 is the same price and the same weight. And the Fujitsu P2000 is actually smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the 12" Powerbook (although has somewhat fewer features).
  • Re:OSX On Sony? (Score:5, Informative)

    by horsie ( 91009 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:14PM (#6496000)
    Actually, Adobe allows cross-platform upgrades on selected software titles. If you have PS7 on the PC and decided to switch to the Mac, then just call up Adobe customer service.

    You will have to sign a "Letter of Destruction" promising that you will destroy your PC version of the software and fax a copy to Adobe before they ship you your CD.

    I did it, and only paid for shipping for Adobe Photoshop 7.0...

    So you CAN switch without costing yourself an arm and a leg. As for MS products, that's an entirely different story, but then again, you also have OpenOffice for OS X as an alternative.
  • Re:3.11 Lbs (Score:4, Informative)

    by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:28PM (#6496074)
    1 pound = 453.59 g. Ergo, 3.11 pounds = 1.41 kg.
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:58PM (#6496233) Homepage
    The Vaios I have seen had what amounted their own version of Windows. They seem to have funky BIOS, hardware, and drivers. In my opinion, Windows Update slowly destroys the machine as these goofball drivers become less and less compatible with the new DLLs you get from Microsoft. I wonder if the word "Vaio" is perhaps Japanese for "disaster"? Sony makes alot of great products, but the Vaio is not one of them. Check Usenet; see just how satisfied the customers really are. Then buy some other brand, any other brand. You really can't do much worse.

    Vaios look cool, and we have a few PHBs who fell in love with the style and (lack of) weight, but they are a total nuisance for the support staff. Our travelling people occasionally gripe about the weight of their IBM Thinkpads, but at least they aren't calling headquarters with show-stopper events in the field.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Laur ( 673497 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:11PM (#6496313)
    +5 Insightful? Sheesh.

    Open-source Darwin core

    Darwin may be open, but it isn't free. It's licensed under the Apple Public License, which is NOT a free license.


    Okay, what about X11. OS X doesn't run on X11, it runs on Aqua and Quartz, which are both very much closed source and proprietary. Yes, there are X servers for OS X. Yes, there are X servers for Windows and virtually every other desktop OS that I know of. What exactly was your point?

    More "open" technologies than you could shake a stick at

    What are you referring too? BSD userland? Apps? Just because the userland and apps are free doesn't mean the underlying OS is. Cygwin works great on Windows.

    Loads of great built-in languages.

    See my comment about userland stuff and apps. Do these languages not work on Windows?

    Freely available ports of tons of great Unix apps

    Again, just because the apps are free doesn't mean the underlying OS is. Cygwin contains ports of tons of great Unix apps, others have been ported to Windows natively, doesn't make Windows any less proprietary. Free software also runs great on lots of other proprietary Unixes (AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Irix, etc.), Mac OS X isn't much different in this respect.

    Exactly what is so "proprietary" about Mac OS X that is scaring you away?

    Now don't get me wrong, I love how Apple is using and working with the open source world. However, Mac OS X is NOT a free OS, it is very much proprietary. Can you download and build Mac OS X from source? Can you play and tweak with the source, or port it to other architectures? Is there even a way to put Aqua and Quartz on top of an OpenDarwin core? Can you avoid the expensive OS upgrades to gain necessary functionality (most apps, like Safari and Apple's X server won't run on anything less than 10.2)? There's nothing inherently wrong with proprietary OS's, just don't try to pretend that OS X isn't one.

  • by David Rolfe ( 38 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:28AM (#6496832) Homepage Journal
    I have to agree... if it can't burn DVD's it's not in the same class.

    To quote ars technica, "...[burning dvds] isn't just a luxury, it's a requirement" ;-)

    The 12" with DVD-R is $1,799.00 (and includes right off 12.1-inch TFT Display 1024x768 resolution, 867MHz PowerPC G4, 256MB DDR266 SDRAM, 40GB Ultra ATA/100, SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go 32MB DDR video memory, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, FireWire 400, Bluetooth built-in, VGA & S-Video out)

    So compared to the Sony, you spend a 1.5 pounds more in weight to get ability to burn dvds, bigger display, bigger harddrive, more ram, os x, and with the difference in price you could buy an iSight and ... gasp take stills and video. The review of the Sony puts battery life between 2.5 to 7 hours ... the Powerbook is like 3 to 5 hours.

    I guess what it comes down to is that if you are willing to pay more, you can look at a smaller screen and video conference for two extra hours (assuming the camera and iLink aren't what drags that battery down to the 2.5 hour mark)

    I'm not sold on the editorial stance 'Powerbook Killer'. :-\

  • by UnixRevolution ( 597440 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:48AM (#6496933) Homepage Journal
    the new sony:

    900MHz Centrino
    512MB Memory
    30GB Hard drive
    10.6" TFT
    3.11 Pounds

    867MHz PowerPC G4
    640MB DDR266 (128MB built-in & 512MB SO-DIMM)
    40GB Ultra ATA drive
    SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
    AirPort Extreme Card
    Keyboard/Mac OS for SuperDrive - U.S. English
    12.1-inch TFT Display

    128MB more memory, 10GB more hard drive, faster processor (almost even on bare clock speed, even!) and has OS X with UNIX goodness out of the box, and a larger display by more than an inch. for about $48 more.

    and this is a powerbook killer how?

    sure, the apple is a bit heavier, but 4.6 pounds is still damn light. Also, do you think the sony really is going to last 7 hours on a battery? i know my 14" ibook has lasted more than 6.

  • by frogfroth ( 648471 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:48AM (#6496934)
    Another *possible* advantage of the Sony would be the integrated cameara. However, the new iSight from Apple probably produces better images and for $1800 (12"PB w/SuperDrive) + $150 iSight even without discounts the machine comes in at a lower price, in addition to getting *DVD burner *extra two inches of screen, give or take *OS X and iLife, etc. etc. *FireWire Hmm, doens't seem much like a PowerBook killer at all.
  • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 ( 521389 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @02:30AM (#6497121)
    More ports? My iBook (and that counts PowerBooks) has all the ports I need. I don't wan't any more thanks.

    As pointed out earlier, the PowerBook also has a DVD-R drive and a couple of other goodies.

    The only thing the Sony has going for it is weight and slightly higher resolution (which is a bad thing for some people aswell, since the screen is smaller to). If it was the same price we might have a contest here.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:47AM (#6498238)
    Ever done an OSX install?

    Yes, lots, unfortunately.

    On my 1Ghz PB it takes about 15 minutes, start to finish.... that's including the extras (iDVD and Developer Tools discs).

    Yeah, and that is then followed by manually installing each application, then downloading system upgrades, then updating each application, then installing Fink, then telling Fink to install lots of stuff, and on and on.

    Regular Apple updates that install painlessly keep things running great.

    Regular Apple updates only update Apple's software. Non-Apple software requires a wide variety of other mechanisms.

    Say that for a Linux distro?

    You bet: Linux distros update everything automatically and with no intervention. It's far easier.

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