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First Look at Sony's Tiny Vaio UX180p 178

Posted by timothy
from the weentsy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "MobileTechReview has posted a first look at the Sony Vaio UX180P Micro PC and comparison of it with UMPC and OQO. "When I first heard about the Sony UX series, I nearly dismissed it because I just couldn't imagine that 1024 x 600 on a 4.5" screen could ever be readable. Yes, the price is certainly another issue-- consumers don't flock to spend twice as much on a "notebook" that's less than half the size of a standard ultralight. At least not in the SUV-lovin' US. Well, happily I was wrong. That tiny XBRITE display is easily readable, despite the number of pixels squeezed into close company""
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First Look at Sony's Tiny Vaio UX180p

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  • nice typo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:04PM (#15695140)
    You mean OQO right? QOQ doesnt sound quite as....eloquent ;)
  • Screen Resolution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PatTheGreat (956344)
    His number one and biggest complaint is screen resolution. How hard could it possibly be to turn it down a bit?
    • New to this whole "LCD" thing huh?
    • LCDs become fuzzy when set to a non-native resolution. Furthermore, most operating systems display things using a pixel-based rendering system as opposed to a "real-life" size, so the icons become either tiny or huge. Vista should have vector-based rendering so that everything is rendered at the "right" size regardless of the resolution of the display. I can't wait, because my laptop has a 1920x1200 15.4 display. Of course, it probably can't run Vista. Dang.
      • Re:Screen Resolution (Score:3, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)
        LCDs become fuzzy when set to a non-native resolution.
        Not inherently. By my calculation this screen has a dot pitch of 4.5/sqrt(800^2+600^2)*25 = 0.1125. A dot pitch of 0.11 mm is smaller than any CRT I've seen, so this LCD screen should scale a raster display better, not worse, than a CRT.
        • Re:Screen Resolution (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gnavpot (708731)

          "LCDs become fuzzy when set to a non-native resolution." Not inherently. By my calculation this screen has a dot pitch of 4.5/sqrt(800^2+600^2)*25 = 0.1125. A dot pitch of 0.11 mm is smaller than any CRT I've seen, so this LCD screen should scale a raster display better, not worse, than a CRT.

          On a CRT, you can never hit each dot precisely, so every resolution will appear fuzzy. CRT users are used to that fuzziness.

          LCD users running native resolution with a digital video feed are not used to such


        •   Not inherently. By my calculation this screen has a dot pitch of 4.5/sqrt(800^2+600^2)*25 = 0.1125

          Actually, it's (4.5 * 25.4) / sqrt(1024^2 + 600^2) = 0.096 mm. Which, BTW, is over 263 dpi. With good antialiasing, text on this thing should be almost indistinguishable from print!
    • Japan (Score:4, Informative)

      by frankyfranky (984895) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:18PM (#15695453)
      In my oppinion the resolution isn't really an issue. You can read standard 10 point with no real problems. You have to consider that this is a handheld device and so it would be held closer to your face than say, a laptop. They've had these things out for quite a while here in Japan. My biggest gripes with it is the size and price. The thing is really thick (bulky) and I just can't justify spending that much money. However, considering that's it's ligtweight and generaly easy to use it seems to be a good all around portable machine for those of us with deep pockets.

      And yes, it can run Linux.
    • Shouldn't he just, you know, change the DPI to something closely resembling the actual DPI?
    • Laser printers have 600 dpi. I don't see anyone complaining that it's too high. The problem is with the operating system and the software using bitmapped rendering elements instead of a vector based.

      This is a huge problem for the web right now too since web designers are still addicted to .gif and .jpg images for site layout and design.
  • I know that fonts sizes are easily adjusted in most web browsers, but what about images? Do any popular web browsers offer an option to scale all images a certain amount? Without this feature, the future of very small dot pitches on LCDs looks dim.
  • Sony still rulez (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MdntToker (560684)
    What's up with all the Sony bashing lately?

    This just goes to show that the Consumer Electronics division still puts out great products!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:13PM (#15695183)
      Look up the legal term "goodwill." You lose a lot of it when you vandalize my computer with a rootkit.

      I own an early ancestor of this subnotebook, the original Crusoe PictureBook (I believe the model number is PCG-1VN). I love it. When it eventually dies, it's going to be very hard to resist the temptation to replace it with this new model from Sony.

      But you can bet your ass I will.
      • I had a PCG-1VN and loved it too. It was always a bit lacking in CPU power, and sucked for video playback though. My previous employer bought it though, so I no longer have it. I occasionally think about buying one on ebay, but I think the previous-gen 400MHz PII's might actually be better, CPU-wise. Too bad they never came out with another non-Crusoe model before they stopped selling it.

        You might look into the Fujitsu P1000 for a replacement, too. I was looking at them, but decided to go smaller and g
  • It almost, but not quite, gives the PDA a run for the money. Although the PDA is still significantly less expensive. I like it though.
  • by huguley (87575) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:11PM (#15695175)

    I wonder if it comes with the rootkit preinstalled?
    • I'm not sure why everyone leaps to blame Sony for the actions of the Sony-BMG group. There were two partners in that group; one a moderately well-respected electronics giant, and the other a notoriously evil recording company. Just because you'd only heard of one of them doesn't mean that that one deserves all the blame. How come I never see this sort of comment when a BMG-related story is posted? ;)
      • In real life, if you associate yourself with a total jerk, you know that your reputation will suffer.
        If you had a good reputation before, that's normal people notice more the degradation.

        So in the case Sony BMG, you expect nothing from BMG. But you would have expected that Sony would have maintained a certain level of dignity. Well that was not the case, and yes only Sony lost something since BMG had already nothing to lose and yes that affect the global perception of Sony as a whole.

  • by Reapman (740286) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:15PM (#15695194)
    in Tokyo, and I was very impressed... my x51v PDA is just a bit smaller overall then this and only runs WM5. However it's not something u can easily stick in your pocket so not sure when i'd use it... Still I drooled over it :P
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:25PM (#15695231)
    That tiny XBRITE display is easily readable, despite the number of pixels squeezed into close company

    He means "because of" the number of pixels. Presumably Sony is doing some anti-aliasing on the fonts to improve readability.
  • Screw the screen - can you imagine typing on this? IMHO, the "ultra-mobile" line of computers will not succeed because of keyboard issues. The tablet PC's have already dealt with that effectively by becoming "notebooks" in the real sense of the word (you write directly on the screen with a pen). UMPC's are the worst of both worlds. Just go for a small laptop or tablet if you want mobility.
  • Sony UX? (Score:4, Funny)

    by glwtta (532858) on Monday July 10, 2006 @09:45PM (#15695305) Homepage
    So... it's SUX for short? At least they are getting more honest. (Can't wait to buy a "Sony 0wnz J00!1!")
  • I've played with it (Score:5, Informative)

    by iconeternal (889316) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:16PM (#15695441)
    I'm an electronics salesman at staples, and we got them in today. We're one of the few stores in the nation to carry them, and even staples only has a few in.

    I played with it for a bit today, and I have to say I love the design. The screen is crisp and clear with a high framerate, the two cameras are amazing, the touch screen is very responsive, and even the thumbstick is nice. The fold out qwerty keyboard is nice, but it takes some getting used to.

    What strikes me is HOW small this thing really is. The original Origami concept was massive compared to this. It is barely bigger than two IPAQs glued together, and it weighs 1.4 lbs.

    Not to mention it comes with EVDO support.

    I'm impressed. Not 1700 dollars worth of impressed, but impressed none the less.
    • I agree that this product is a great idea, but I can't imagine more than just a few wealthy gadget freaks ponying up $1,700 for this thing. I guess that the rest of us will need to wait for Dell/Lenovo,HP,etc. to make a sub $1,000 version with a bit more storage than 30 GB.
    • Not to mention it comes with EVDO support.

      EDGE support and crippled by being locked to Cingular at that! I wonder if an unlocked version is available for a few hundred more $? If I pay $1700 for a computer, I expect it not to be hobbled by assinine restrictions.

      -b.

  • It is a full featured computer with a 1.5 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM with a docking station to connect your monitor, usb keyboard/mouse and ethernet for about $1.700, but does it run Linux?
    • If Sony's hardware history has anything to say about it, yes, it will run Linux. I'm running Linux on a Sony Vaio notebook, and this particular one has been running smoothly for over a year now.
  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:42PM (#15695556) Homepage
    First look? I saw one of these ages ago, back when they were called the Psion 5 (see http://therandymon.com/content/view/86/79/ [therandymon.com]). Awright, the Psion didn't network at all, but it had a better keyboard and the two double-A batteries that kept it running lasted over 3 months.

    This is neat, but if I bought something like this it would be to write on, and that means the keyboard isn't good enough, the battery doesn't last long enough, and it's too heavy. We're still reinventing the wheel, poorly.

    • The Poquet PC did it earlier with PC compatability: http://www.obsoletecomputermuseum.org/poqet_pc/ [obsoleteco...museum.org]

    • I preferred the Series 3. The 5 had a nicer looking keyboard, but it wasn't any nicer to type on than the 3, and the battery life was much worse. I typed a 3,000 word essay on my 3, for example. A pair of AA batteries would last a good two weeks with the 3, while you were lucky if they lasted more than a couple of days with the 5.

      There was also something indescribably cool about having a device running a multitasking OS, a GUI, and even shipping with a compiler and yet only needing 256KB of RAM, inclu


    • > First look? I saw one of these ages ago, back when they were called the Psion 5 (web link elided). Awright, the Psion didn't network at all

      Which IMO renders it practically useless by 2006 standards. I've got a 5mx at home myself, but I never use it - it's just too much of a pain to move text to and from it.

      > but it had a better keyboard

      Marginally. You certainly couldn't touch-type on it. The tactile feedback was terrible; I always found myself looking at the screen to see whether

  • by Trogre (513942) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:43PM (#15695557) Homepage
    This Vaio will suck.

    Nintendo will Wiin the console wars.

    Can I please have my mod points now?

  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Monday July 10, 2006 @10:44PM (#15695566)
    I played with this device, but grew to dislike it. The thing is too big, runs too hot, eat batteries for breakfast, and the keyboard is barely usable. Nice that it runs WinXP and has two cameras.... but so what? Sorry, but the Zaurus still fits in your pocket, has a usable keyboard, and lasts 7 hours at a time.
    • What are you smoking, I want some.

      If I put a WiFI card and connect to the net, the most I get is one hour from a fully charged battery.
    • Sorry, but the Zaurus still fits in your pocket, has a usable keyboard, and lasts 7 hours at a time.

      In the article, they showed a picture of the Zaurus [wikipedia.org] SL-C3200, which you can get for a mere $600 [google.com], as opposed to something like $1800 [google.com] for the Vaio they're touting. The Zaurus runs Linux, has built in 802.11b, 6 GB hard drive, and is plain cool. Why Sharp doesn't market it more here in the U.S. (apparently they've just barely gotten the programs + OS translated from Japanese to English..) is a mystery. It mig
    • That's debatable (Score:3, Informative)

      by IANAAC (692242)
      Here's a list of things that work and things that don't:

      Working features:

      1. Keyboard
      2. Mouse
      3. Screen (doesn't fill the screen yet)
      4. USB is detected (obviously because we booted from it!)
      5. CardBus chipset (which houses the Cingular WWAN adapter).

      Non Working features:

      1. VAIO button
      2. Fingerprint scanner
      3. Intel WiFi card
      4. Zoom buttons
      5. Touchscreen (this might work if I look into it more..maybe later)
      6. Camera's DON'T work

      Would you be happy spending th

      • by korny (60390)
        This is pretty normal for any brand-new laptop though. It looks as if all the hard stuff works - once the basic system, display and mouse are working, the rest are just devices.

        In fact, it's quite probable that some of these devices will already work with the right driver revisions - linux support is actually quite good for most Intel wifi devices:
        http://ipw3945.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
        and many fingerprint scanners:
        http://www.upek.com/support/dl_linux_bsp.asp [upek.com]

        I have both of these working fine in Ubuntu 6.06 on a Th
      • Wow that's pretty bad. Does it also have Bluetooth? I still haven't seen Bluetooth working on a demo laptop at the store. It never is configured properly.
      • His report is obviously about the first install. I guess that the cameras are supported, because the one integrated in my Vaio C1XD is working as well. THe Intel WiFi card is certainly supported and the touchscreen is nothing special. The Vaio buttons/zoom buttons should be covered with ACPI.
      • Sounds like Linux on just about any device!
  • Video Review at CNet (Score:4, Informative)

    by sootman (158191) on Monday July 10, 2006 @11:47PM (#15695766) Homepage Journal
    available here. [cnet.com]

    Looks like a neat little unit. Pretty powerful, but the keyboard isn't super. If course, on any portable, there is a tradeoff between overall size and display & keyboard size.

    That said, I miss my Libretto. :-)
  • I've played with a few VAIOs, and haven't really been impressed with the quality. Cheap, thin plastic. Cardbus slots stopping working after two months of use. Crappy support - spend two hours reinstalling from the restore partition and *only then* can you send the bl**dy thing to be repaired. And this isn't even mentioning the malware-ridden audio CD debacle...

    Give me the smallest iBook or MacBook any day. Older TiBooks aside, Apple's quality seems pretty good these days, and their laptops are light,

    • I call bullshit!

      While you may have played with a few VAIO's, I actually own a VAIO laptop for 4 years. I have not experienced any of the deficiencies that you have cited. I work with fellow VAIO users who have the latest notebooks, and they are happy with their purchase.

      Out of the 4 years (so far!), I only had two problems.

      1. Hardrive died on the 2nd year and was easily replaced.

      2. My cat clawed off the keyboard and turned the laptop into an expensive paperweight. A call to Sony and 72 hours & $80 d

  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:16AM (#15695852)
    Having a laptop that can't be used on other countries' mobile data networks would seem to be a pretty severe disadvantage for the business traveller.

    -b.

    • Just because it'll only use Cingular SIMs doesn't mean it won't work in other countries. You just have to keep using your Cingular SIM (and paying Cingular) when you are in those other countries.

      Are you new to GSM or something?

      I buy my phones unlocked, because I like the options. But I also understand that most devices are sold locked in the US but that doesn't mean you can't make calls or use data overseas.
      • Because this retarded locking nonsense has all of the appeal of region-coded DVDs.

        Paraphrasing Paul radically: "I never wanted to be a thug until you laid these rules on me." (Romans 7)

      • Just because it'll only use Cingular SIMs doesn't mean it won't work in other countries. You just have to keep using your Cingular SIM (and paying Cingular) when you are in those other countries.

        Where "paying Cingular" = "getting sodomized without lube by Cingular". Pre-paid SIMs abroad are so much cheaper than int'l roaming.

        To give Sony some credit, the thing is unlockable, but why wait on the line to talk to some tech support asshat when the thing should be unlocked in the *first* place, or at least

  • Instead of using keyboards that are put to shame by a TI-85 graphing calculator, wouldn't it be better to have some kind of full-sized (or almost so) keyboard that's hinged in the middle? Typing on this seems like a nightmare, and pen entry is annoying since I can type faster than I can write (legibly).

    -b.

    • I've got a U71 and that came with a small, hinged, USB keyboard which I use occasionally. I'm surprised that the UX180 doesn't come with something similar, (or maybe it does and I missed that). The one I have folds to about the same surface area as the Vaio and about 1cm thick.

      For people that want that there are a number of portable keyboards around these days. I suspect Sony felt that the built in keyboard was sufficient for mobile use. With my U71 I tend to use the handwriting recognition software whe
  • Target Market (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skiflyer (716312) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:28AM (#15695899)
    Normally I hate reading the "cool, but I would never use it" posts... but I'm really curious, what do you guys think is the target market for this device?

    Too small for all day computing, too big to drop in most pockets... the thickness particularly seems to be a kicker.

    Anyway geek factor, very high... practical factor, I'm wracking my brain and can't think of the application.
    • Re:Target Market (Score:4, Informative)

      by VdG (633317) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @06:35AM (#15696695)
      For me, a traditional PDA is of very limited use. All I really want in a package that small is diary and contacts stuff, which is already on my 'phone. (Along with loads of other things I hardly ever use.)

      Something like the Vaio is clearly not as useable as a proper laptop or as portable as a PDA but it gives something of both. I can sling my U71 in a briefcase, satchel or whatever and it offers me much, much more than a PDA.

      I use it for Internet radio and for taking notes. It's also a good portable library: shift the display to portrait and it'll show a page of a manual quite nicely. You could read a novel on it if you wanted, I guess, though I don't.

      This is a machine I can take with me when I'm travelling on business without having to take extra luggage, and still have access to all my personal stuff - email, usenet, banking: things I can't use my company laptop for.

      I also use it for RPG stuff, so I can have all my notes in one convenient package.

      It serves as a photo album: most of my holiday snaps are on it now so I can show them to my parents without having to cut CDs or worry about storage.

      It's powerful enough for use as a workstation but if you were doing that you'd want to hook it up to a proper monitor and keyboard. But that's no different to the way I use my work laptop.

      I don't think anyone could say that this - or any of its competitors are cheap, but it does fill an interesting niche. I could live without my U71, but I do enjoy having it.
    • Re:Target Market (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thedletterman (926787) <thedletterman@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:12AM (#15697002) Homepage
      Well, I've been mulling over replacing my work laptop with one of these. It would easily slip into a briefcase, and there is an available docking station that comes with it. You don't need to use the 4" screen or the foldout keyboard. You can slip it out and stick it into the cradle, and it's business as usual on a 20" LCD screen, ethernet and a fullsize keyboard and mouse.

      When I'm done for the day, there's nothing to synch, and there's no disruption in workflow. I just pop it out and head out the door. I don't need 10 hours of battery life, in fact, only enough to use it on the train while I go from my office back home. I'll never forget a file, miss an email, etc.

      The 1 lb portability, and dockstation is what makes this a very atttractive solution to me. Now I don't have to carry a laptop bag anymore, and this thing will whip out while on the go much easier than a fullsize laptop ever will. If I had a car, this would also make one of those $39 GPS receivers totally worthwhile.

  • Give me something with twice the screen size (and a decent resolution 1600x1200 plz).
    Make it an OLED for readability and shrink the thickness of the device about twice.
    Make flash-based HDD and removable (hot-plug) wireless module for low power consumption.
    Nuke the keyboard (I can lug my own, just give me a few usb ports).
    • And while you're at it, you'd probably like a pony. Or are you willing to pay $7,500 or more a unit for such a device?
      • There's nothing at all unreasonable in those specs. Except for the ridiculous screen size he wants, it sounds a lot like a Clie VZ90 [palminfocenter.com]. Japan only, of course.
        • I go to scientific conferences and it would be nice to have an ultralight (4 lbs is way too
          heavy) device which I could carry around all day, take notes on, and then also use it to show
          other people my data (which is high res so I need 1600x1200 for it to look best). It is the
          kind of usage that UMPC is supposedly designed for, except it is just slightly too heavy, way
          too bulky (thick), the screen is too small, and battery life is about a third of what would be
          useful for a day at the conference center without
  • How much does the damn thing cost? From the article I know it cost "$400 less than the similarly spec-d import UX90" but considering the I have no idea what the UX90 is let alone how much it cost how am I supposed to know from the "review" how much it costs?
  • About time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KlomDark (6370)
    I'm one of the people blessed with above-average vision (20/10 rather than the standard 20/20). This means I can see the individual pixels in a normal LCD monitor from several feet away. Gets annoying at times, especially anti-aliasing, which just looks to me like a bunch of gray pixels surrounding the actual letters.

    However, with the new smaller pixels in things like this 4.5" 1024x768 screen (And the 17" 1920x1280 monitor in my Dell d810 laptop), I finally am not annoyed by the pixels. I have to get withi

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