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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 theWrkncacnter ( 562232 ) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:26PM (#6495014)
    I don't see how it can be when it costs more. I purchased a 12 inch powerbook with a superdrive (DVR-R/CD-RW), 802.11g, firewire, 2 usb ports, 32mb nVivida gforce 4 and a bunch of other stuff for the same price as this thing, and the prices for the 12 inch pb have since gone down. I hardly see how its a "killer." Plus, I love how everyone plays catchup to apple. For such a small market share they sure do seem to set a lot of standards.
  • Power comparison (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Millyways ( 262662 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:27PM (#6495017) Homepage
    A 900 MHZ Centrino really doesn't compare that well to a 987MHZ G4.
  • Re:3.11 Lbs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:30PM (#6495031)
    CD-RW/DVD combo drive
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:30PM (#6495032)
    True. Also, I think Mac OS X is a significant value addition.
  • OSX On Sony? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evil_roy ( 241455 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:30PM (#6495035)
    Hard to believe. It's going to be hard to be a PowerBook killer without it.
  • 12" vs 10.6" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajiva ( 156759 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:33PM (#6495067)
    How can this thing be better, when the screen is 1.4" smaller? Heck I think 12" is too small, but 10.6"? Geez can anyone even read /. on that? :)
  • by KevetS ( 600647 ) <kevets&gmail,com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:42PM (#6495122) Homepage Journal
    How can this be considered a PowerBook killer when it has no DVD-R option, and EXTERNAL DVD/CD-RW drives as the only possibility for burning cd's? Sure it looks small and light, but the 12" PowerBook has a hell of a lot crammed into it's small package, which is more than I can say for this Dell.
  • by ravenousbugblatter ( 682061 ) <ravenousbugblatter@yahoo.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:47PM (#6495146)
    I agree - no way in hell you can compare a 900 mhz centrino (which is nothing but a gimmick) against a 867mhz G4. Not to mention being able to burn DVD's on the powerbook, 802.11g, better graphics, a bigger screen, and the biggest thing of all - OS X 10.2 Jaguar, with the soon to be available OS X 10.3 Panther.
  • Powerbook Killer? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by phatcat625 ( 668966 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:48PM (#6495152) Journal
    Honestly, PC's at one point had Apple begging for scraps at the dinner table like a dog. However biased you are, Apple will not just disappear into the good night. First off, 900 MHz Centrino isn't going to beat the 867 G4 considering that the G4 competes quite well with the intel mobile market. DVD-R? No. Up to 1152 MB memory? Think again. 60 GB hard drive? HA. Any OS besides windows... Dream On. So what about this Powerbook Killer? I would look at it and say... "oh it's a Sony" and then look at something else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:49PM (#6495157)
    This VAIO costs $700 more than a 12" Powerbook. Show me a Mac user who actually wants a Windows machine, or better yet, wants to pay *more* for one?
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neuroklinik ( 452842 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:56PM (#6495207)
    "I'm not interested in investing lots of money in applications for yet another properietary OS."

    Hmm... Open-source Darwin core... X11... More "open" technologies than you could shake a stick at... Loads of great built-in languages... Freely available ports of tons of great Unix apps... Exactly what is so "proprietary" about Mac OS X that is scaring you away?
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blondie-Wan ( 559212 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:05PM (#6495264) Homepage
    If it's the cost of software keeping you back, I have to ask... why? If you play by the rules, you'll (generally, according to most licenses I've seen, anyway) have to buy separate copies of your existing apps for the laptop anyway; if you don't play by the rules, and duplicate the ones from your desktop to use on the laptop, you could just warez the Mac versions as well. Either way you'll probably wind up paying about the same for your laptop's apps regardless of platform. Just a thought...

    (I do of course realize, though, this doesn't apply if you play by the rules and also get those essential apps bundled with the machine on one platform but not the other, and it also doesn't apply if the apps you want/need aren't made for the Mac and there are no equivalents that can open & save the same files.)

  • by matt_maggard ( 320567 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:25PM (#6495372)
    Sounds like a sony (or maybe any PC) is not a powerbook killer for the reasons listed in the parent comment. I have never had to worry about installing any other Apple OS on any supported machine and I have never had to jump throught these kind of hoops (installing drivers in the right order? for christ's sake!).

    Now, even though I am a long time mac user/proponent, I use PCs at work and the pure usablity gap is decreasing. But when it comes to polish, fit and finish, and total cost of ownership - I just can't see the pc as a good choice for most people. It's too bad that the price sticker at best buy doesn't have to include a breakdown of how much the unit will cost over its lifetime and how much hair you will pull out (sort of like energy costs on appliances).

    Everytime I think of adding an ultralight PC laptop to my home network to run the odd pc app, I read these posts and remember that it ain't worth it.

    And the things cost way more than a 12" PB!

  • by Bronz ( 429622 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:35PM (#6495440)

    And using that logic... I recently purchased an HP laptop with a 14" XGA screen for $599 after rebates! You have to understand that when laptops get _smaller_ they sometimes get more expensive. Knowing this, you won't say strange things like "laptop X is cheaper AND bigger!"
  • Catchup?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:50PM (#6495531) Homepage Journal
    Wtf? Sony has had a 10 inch (not 12 inch) entry in the laptop market for years. I've owned mine for almost two years! True there was a gap between the SRX and this thing, but still. It's ridiculous to say that Sony if "following" apple because they released a laptop that's "small" I mean come on. There have been much smaller laptops through history, like the Toshiba Libretto.
  • PCMCIA MIA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rje ( 15052 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:55PM (#6495560) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone noticed that it lacks PCMCIA slots? Sure its cool and I'd like one but I sure find it easier to move my digital photos off my compact flash cards with a PCMCIA adapter. Memory sticks don't work in a Nikon CoolPix 5000.
  • by Triumph The Insult C ( 586706 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:04PM (#6495616) Homepage Journal
    ahh. now i remember. i had the 6 cell battery. without extra batteries, you get a 4 cell.

    for the c400, you can get a 16 cell battery, but it pretty much doubles the height and weight. =(
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:12PM (#6495650)
    "For such a small market share they sure do seem to set a lot of standards."
    Too bad taste isn't one of those standards.

    Pay attention to the laptops in TV/magazine/newspaper ads, not to mention TV shows, music videos...and of course movies...by far, Apple Powerbooks are the laptop of choice, and when a movie features a pseudo-screen-graphic, it usually bears a play-skool resemblence to the older MacOS. Oh, and the sounds you hear while Joe Movie Star is working at the computer...is usually either an ancient seagate MFM drive(wee wee...wee wooo weee) or a Macintosh 3.5" drive(Boop boop boop boop boop brrrrp booop boop). The MFM drive sound not surprisingly is more popular in the low-budg films(just kidding :-)

    You have to kind of look closely since they almost always black out the Apple logo(esp on the powerbooks that have glowing apple logos :-), but the case is very distinctive on the G3 powerbooks(the Lombard was code-named after Lombard Street in CA- the curviest street in the world..because almost every surface of the case is curved.)

    In fact, at one point, one of the major fashion magazines many years back said the most fashionable item you could have on you while walking down Wall St. was a Powerbook under your arm(probably where the Wallstreet codename came from). The TiBook continues the trend- they're downright gorgeous machines, at least before the paint starts chipping from the case(which is why Apple is, on new models, using unpainted aluminum external surfaces- the painted exterior of the 15" Tibook did NOT go over very well).

  • Re:Troll? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Delphiki ( 646425 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:16PM (#6495667)
    Mac zealots are stupid because they think only Macs are worth paying attention to. Windows zealots are stupid because they don't realize that there are things other than Windows. Linux zealots are stupid because they discount anything that's not Open Source. Conclusion? Zealots are stupid. Sony is not following Apple. Apple didn't invent the small and light notebook. They just did it better than anyone else had to that point. This notebook by Sony is nice but I could get a 12" PowerBook for $1399... loaded with the options I'd want more like $1600-$1700.. still considerably lower than the Sony. The metal case is a bit derivative, but it's got a different look from the PowerBooks and I like it (I like the PowerBooks a little bit more, but that's me).
  • unusable for me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AssFace ( 118098 ) <stenz77@nOSpam.gmail.com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:19PM (#6495682) Homepage Journal
    I can't possibly imagine using one of these.

    I am certainly not against Sony, I bought a Vaio for my fiancee. But I personally have no idea how anyone can use one of these things on a daily basis.

    If you have a monitor and a keyboard and a mouse to plug into it so that it is essentially a mobile station that you move about, then that makes sense.

    Of if you have that setup at work for all your uses, but if you travel to a client site you can then bring the little thing with you and use it to do a presentation - you can woo them with the little shiny thing that you brought with you to do it all.

    But I just can't imagine using it, sitting there typing on it and the screen... ugh.
    It would drive me absolutely nuts.

    I have my 15" screen at 1400Xwhatever and a nearly full keyboard on mine and it still is a bit confining for my tastes, but is at least usable.

    I use this at work and at home (at work I have a desktop that I do most of my work on, the laptop is for work that goes with me all the time).
    When I get a new one, I will either get one of the Dells that can do 1600x1200 and has a brighter screen, or I will go to powernotebooks.com and see what I can setup there.

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around why someone would seek out a smaller laptop.
    Easy to carry, lighter, less screen to drive means longer battery life to some extent... but to actually use the damn thing...
    Shows I'm narrow minded I guess.
  • Re:Sony Notebook?? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:24PM (#6495710)
    while it is true that sony has started to offer some limited support of downloadable drivers, the other guy is right on: sony will fuck you and never look back. they use proprietary proprietary proprietary shit left and right and then they don't even support it themselves. their stuff is nice and seductive, but after 5 sony notebooks (and any number of other things like still and video cams) i'm fed up. no more sonys for me.

    oh, and their keyboards and batteries are crapola.

  • by Newton IV ( 666922 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:36PM (#6495772)
    I bought two nearly ideantical Sony Vaios (PCG-Z505LS and PCG-R505TS), hoping that ,if one breaks, the other one will be working. No, wrong! In two years, in the Z505LS internal power board had to be replaced, modem jack fell off, and Win 2000 "had bad interplay with VAIO hardware" (this is a quotation from MSFT Customer support). In R505LS, hard drive broke, and firewire jack broke. First computer has been sent to Sony Repair Center 3 times, second- two times. In all 5 cases, the turnover time was very long, and once the notebook arrived unrepaired, so it had to be re-sent. Never again!
  • by jbuilder ( 81344 ) <evadnikufesin@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:00PM (#6495911)

    Have you *EVER* tried to load a different OS (as in what did not come originally on the system) nto a Sony Notebook?? You will tear your hair and generally feel like throwing out the notebook...

    I use a Vaio with SuSE 8.2, and I feel your pain. For the most part my Vaio GRV550 has worked great. And while I'd *like* to get another Vaio and run SuSE on that, I probably won't. Sony makes good notebook PC's, but they don't make *great* ones. To say this new Vaio model could be a "Powerbook killer" is pretty dammed insulting to the Powerbook, considering some of the crap that Sony pulls with respect to incompatible hardware. Also, you're right, they're support is horid if you don't use the OS distro it shipped with.

    And the Centrio chip? How the hell could this vaio be a powerbook killer when the chip in it has essentially limited (read nonexistant) support for any non-MS OS (esp Linux).

    I'm sorry, Sony's going to have to do better or I'm going to look elsewhere - maybe IBM or Dell.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SN74S181 ( 581549 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:46PM (#6496164)
    Exactly what is so "proprietary" about Mac OS X that is scaring you away?

    It should be fairly obvious, but people seem to not notice.

    Mac OS X only runs on a single source of hardware. That makes it extremely proprietary.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Adrian ( 4029 ) <adrianh@quietstars.com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @07:22AM (#6497869) Homepage
    Well, I've been a unix guy for about 15 years, and a mac and unix person for about 10 years.

    The nice thing about Mac OS X is I get to be both on the same machine. If you have a piece of Linux/FreeBSD code you can almost certainly run it on Mac OS X.

    While Mac OS X isn't a free OS - it is a *very* good free software platform (and there is also VirtualPC if you need to run some legacy Windows software - slowly :-)
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 73939133 ( 676561 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:42AM (#6498218)
    because the 5 second delay while my xterm redraws after I drag a window in front of it on XFree86 is so amazingly fast compared to OS X

    That's nonsense; xterm redraws have been imperceptible on regular hardware for years.

    OS X which has minimal redraw latency even with transparent windows

    Yes, it does, by shoving graphics content into the server. But that's not drawing speed, that's redrawing speed. You can tell X11 to do the same thing, it just happens to be disabled by default because it's pointless on a properly configured system.

    How exactly is "Linux" easier to install and maintain? Portage is available for OS X - the exact same package management system for a popular desktop distro.

    The problem is that OS X package management isn't consistent: some applications are updated by Apple, others are updated by hand, yet others have their own built-in update systems, and then there are several ported Linux and BSD package managers. The upshot is that maintaining an OS X system requires a lot of manual work, while Linux systems update themselves completely automatically and consistently.

    In any case, I think most people will find that all the applications that they could possibly miss (usual POSIX console utilities and emacs) are there, along with some much improved ones (xchat) and a whole new plethora of cocoa apps - that perhaps they didn't know they wanted ;)

    There is a lot of UNIX/Linux software that doesn't work on OS X and is a pain to port. Problems are non-UNIX implementations of audio, video, I/O, and just general differences in header files and libraries.

    After having built a fully optimized gentoo system (2.4.21-ck3, XFree86 4, fluxbox) for my Athlon XP 2000+, I was bitterly disappointed to note the above noted redraw lag. IM(NS)HO, OS X desktop interactivity is faster.

    You are probably using an unaccelerated video driver or have some other configuration problem. You can't blame Linux for that. If you want good performance with no hassles, buy a system that comes with Linux support out of the box.
  • by I_M_Noman ( 653982 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:47AM (#6498244)
    To quote ars technica, "...[burning dvds] isn't just a luxury, it's a requirement" ;-)
    I must be a complete troglodyte, because I don't have a need to burn DVDs. Neither do any of my friends or colleagues. There is the occasional CD backup of a recorded Centra session, but that's done in the studio on a beefy workstation. And watching movies on a laptop? Not so much.

    Am I the only person left who only uses his laptop as a computer instead of as a home entertainment center? (Not flamebait, but a genuine question.)

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