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VAIO

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VAIO, an acronym for Video Audio Integrated Operation, is a sub-brand for many of Sony's computer products. The branding was created by Timothy Hanley to distinguish items that encompassed the use of consumer audio and video, as well as being conventional computing products. One example of this was the Sony VAIO W Series personal computer, which functioned as a regular computer and a miniature entertainment center. Although Sony made computers in the 1980s for the Japanese market only, Sony withdrew from the computer business around the turn of the decade. Sony's re-entry to the computer market, this time globally, under the new VAIO brand, started in 1996 with the PCV series of desktops. The VAIO logo also represents the integration of analog and digital technology. The 'VA' represents an analog wave and the 'IO' represents digital binary code.

Contents

Products

A Sony Vaio FJ series without webcam

Sony is expanding the use of the VAIO label. It can now be found on notebooks, subnotebooks, desktop, and a hard-disk-based audio player that comes in both 20GB and 40GB variations (called VAIO POCKET player). Network media solutions by Sony will also carry the VAIO brand.

High-end VAIO notebooks are usually shipped with Microsoft Windows Vista Business (Business line) or Windows Vista Home Premium, while low end laptops such as N series come with Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic. The highest end of the AR series spec are the exception, coming with Windows Vista Ultimate. As of October 2005, VAIO notebooks and desktop are available upon request without pre-installed software at a slightly lower price[citation needed].

In mid-2005, all models stopped shipping with a Recovery CD, but a instead feature a hidden partition on the hard drive, accessible at boot via the BIOS or also within Windows via a utility. The partition allows the user to either reimage his hard drive to factory state, or to create recovery media. VAIO users are prompted to create a set of recovery CDs or DVDs immediately after purchase, along with a prompt to register at My Club Vaio, a internet forum for VAIO users which also provides automatic driver updates and technical support via email, along with exclusive desktop wallpapers and promotional offers.

On recent models, you are also prompted to register your trial versions of Microsoft Office and Norton Anti-Virus upon initial boot. However, Norton is being replaced with McAfee Antivirus on the newest models.

VAIO computers come with components from companies such as Intel processors, Seagate Technology, Fujitsu or Toshiba hard drives, Infineon RAM, Atheros and Intel wireless chipsets, Sony (usually made by Hitachi) or Matsushita optical drives, Intel or NVIDIA graphics processors and Sony speakers.

Technology

The VAIO brand holds many unique technologies to its name. Some of these are:

Sony VAIO SZ Keyboard

Some Sony VAIO models come with Sony's proprietary XBRITE (also named as ClearBright in Japan and Asia-Pacific region) displays. The first model that introduce this feature is the VAIO TR series. It is also the first consumer product to utilize such technology. It is a combination of smooth screen, anti-reflection (AR) coating and high-efficiency lens sheet. Sony claims that the smooth finish provides a sharper screen display, the AR coating prevents external light from scattering when it hits the screen, and the high-efficiency lens sheet provides 1.5 times the brightness improvement over traditional LCD designs, while also extending battery life due to less usage of the LCD backlight. The technology was pioneered by Sony engineer Masaaki Nakagawa, who is in charge of the VAIO TR development. More information can be found here: [1].

Recent models, such as the TX or SZ, have implemented the LED backlit XBRITE LCD, which further enchance power saving and accurate color reproduction capability of the LCD unit.

The SZ series features both an Intel GMA 950 graphics chip and an NVIDIA graphics chip. These laptops can cold-switch between the GMA 950, to preserve battery life, or the NVIDIA chip, to enhance graphics performance. These are so far the only notebooks on the market with this feature, as Sony has patented the technology. http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/mobile/display/sony-vaio-vgnsz.html

The high-end AR Series VAIOs were the first to incorporate a Blu-ray Disc burner. These laptops were designed to be the epitome of high-definition products including a 1080p capable WUXGA (1920 × 1200 pixels) screen, HDMI output and the aforementioned Blu-ray burner. The AR series also include an illuminated logo below the screen. Blu-Ray/HDMI capable models have been the subject of intense promotion since mid-2007, selling with a variety of bundled Blu-Ray discs.

Another recent addition to the VAIO series is the TZ model. This new design features a 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD) for rapid boot-ups, quicker application launches and greater durability. If selected, a 250GB Hard Drive may also be included in place of the built-in CD/DVD drive to provide room for additional storage. For security this model includes biometric fingerprint sensor and Trusted Platform Module. The TZ offers a Built-in highly miniaturized MOTION EYE camera built into the LCD panel for video conferencing. Additional features include the XBRITE LCD, integrated Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) technology and Bluetooth technology.

A selection of media centres were added to the VAIO range in 2006. These monitorless units (identified by a product code prefixed by VGX rather than VGN) are designed to be part of a home entertainment system, which typically take input from a TV tuner card, and output video via HDMI or composite video connection to an ideally high-definition television. This range so far includes the XL and TP lines. The VGX-TP line is rather visually unique, featuring a circular, 'biscuit-tin' style design with most features obscured behind panels, rather than the traditional set-top box design.

Bundled software

Sony has been criticized for loading its VAIO laptops with bloatware, or software that supposedly allows the user to immediately use the laptop for multimedia purposes. Sony forces users to install software such as AOL, Norton, SonicStage, Napster and Roxio, among countless "free trials" and intrusive advertisements. Dell had been accused of the same practice, but after strong customer feedback agreed to offer "limited" pre-installed software on its machines.[1]. Most of the bloatware can be selected to either not install at first run or can simply be removed from the Add/Remove Programs panel in about 15 minutes. The laptop comes equipped with free trials to initially protect it and offer the consumer some protection straight out of the box without committing them to a purchase (the user can decide for themselves once the free trial ends).

Current models

Notebooks

  • AR Series [2] - Flagship 17" High-end multimedia machine, Full HD compatible
  • FZ Series [3] - Marketed at business and gamers, the first 15.4" notebook with Blu-Ray burner
  • CR Series [4] - New 14" successor of the FJ and C series. Marketed as a 'lifestyle' laptop ("Whether you're studying at the coffee shop or out on the town with friends, the VAIO CR has the head-turning looks to get you noticed")[2], available in red, blue, pink or white.
  • NR Series [5] - Entry level Vista laptop for home users
  • UX [6] - Handheld - 4.5" screen, a handheld UMPC computer
  • TZ Series [7] - Ultra portable 11.1" professional notebook (1.2kg)
  • SZ Series [8] - 13.3" professional notebook

Desktops/Digital Home

  • LA [9] - 19-22" All-in-one
  • RM RM - HD Workstation
  • TP TP - Mini PC

All Sony VAIO computers have hardware virtualization technology (VT) disabled.[3] The feature can be re-enabled by booting from a DOS disk and manually modifying the BIOS, but it is a relatively advanced and technical task.

Pop culture references

  • From the year 2000, German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk have used the Sony VAIO laptops in all their live performances.
  • In the anime Boys Be, Makoto Kurumizawa owned two VAIO laptops. One of them, the first one, was wrecked by Yumi Kazama (by dropping it from a third floor school building window), and he exploited this as an excuse for her to arrange a date with Erika Kawai.
  • The name of New York City based dance music act iiO is derived from the Sony VAIO laptop name.
  • In the 2006 movie The Holiday Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) had a Sony VAIO FJ series laptop in Pearl White color.
  • In the series Gossip Girl, Vanessa is seen using VAIO computers for her digital film work.
  • In the popular webcomic Penny Arcade, the main characters Tycho and Gabe are seen using VAIO laptops as the fly home from in one strip.
  • In the US TV series, "Damages," employees of Hewes and Associates have VAIO notebooks.

See also

References

  1. ^ Dell XPS Sans Bloatware
  2. ^ Vaio CR Series, Sony UK
  3. ^ "KB C381809", Sony VAIO, pp. 1. Retrieved on 2008-04-23

External links

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