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Sony Announces Transmeta Notebook 136

VF/VT Hunter was first with the news. Could you gush about a product announcement for us, Mr. Hunter? "Oh hell yes :) This link over at C|Net details Sony's plan to release a Transmeta-powered notebook by year's end. I KNEW I should wait! What's better, it will include a built-in digital camera. Add standard USB and iLink (aka Firewire) support which seem to be prevalent on most Sonys, plus Sony's reputation for making the coolest looking gizmo's, and I think I've found my next big purchase. It just better not come with a Winmodem." But since it's not a full-sized laptop, should we assume it will be full-featured? Update: 08/15 11:15 AM by michael : The Picturebook line of Vaios doesn't sell very well - it's too small to be useful as a "real" laptop. If only Sony were smart enough to put this chip in their regular Vaios, they wouldn't be able to keep them on the shelves.
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Sony Announces Transmeta Laptop

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  • by Ender7 ( 148649 )
    About time they came out with something nifty
  • Or is this another cool thing that stays in Japan and eventually trickles down to the U.S.?
  • Will using Crusoe yield a significant rise in battery life, or are there other components that do the majority of power eating?
  • It's always been hard to get good notebooks running a quality operating system. Even if you manage that, they still have the tiny amount of mousebuttons. Perhaps this notebook will run Linux? If so, all you weeenies who critisized Linus for working at Transmeta and signing NDA's should be feeling pretty silly if he managed to bring Linux on to Sony notebooks! ;)

    Just speculation...

  • Most of the power consumption goes to the screen and disk drives. Much of the criticism of the Transmeta business plan from competitors says that power savings in the processor don't amount to much in the overall system.
  • by sporty ( 27564 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:02AM (#854825) Homepage
    After owning a bit of sony hardware (phones and audio equpit.) and checking out Consumer Reports, they are third in defective hardware. Is this going to be a shot to the proverbial foot for Transmeta?

    I'd rather IBM or someone more dependable. Hey, Panasonic can get into the laptop market, no? =)


  • a built-in digital camera Sounds handy... and Big, Heavy and Expensive
    The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.
  • I should imagine , seeing as plenty of references have been made to Linus using a variety of Sony Vaio's as his preferred laptops, hardware support on these toys should not be too much of an issue. Maybe even if it does have a software modem.

    Some of them do work with operating sytems other than Windows already. Its just a question of drivers.

  • No picture in that article. I'd really like one where I can flip the screen around and handle it like a clipboard rather than always having to have the keyboard exposed...
  • by Ratface ( 21117 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:04AM (#854829) Homepage Journal
    The press release doesn't actually state that it's "not a full-sized laptop", it says that it's "slightly smaller than the company's current laptops".

    For me that doesn't suggest any reduction in features, Sony's VAIO range generally comes with a great feature set and from those already listed, this doesn't sound too different.

    I would *guess* that the reduced size could have as much to do with the Crusoe's reduced power consumption as anything else. At least I would hope that this helps it reduce the size.

    One other thing - isn't is possible on a laptop to bypass a Winmodem and use a PCMCIA modem instead if one wishes? I would certainly hope so - any confirmation or denail of this would be interesting.

    "Give the anarchist a cigarette"
  • Have you seen the sizes of the latest USB cameras????? And the cost of a simple chipset?


  • Now that IBM may release a Crusoe-powered notebook and Sony is announcing a VAIO-class Cruose notebook, which will I choose?

    I have an IBM Workpad z50 which runs WinCE and NetBSD. Love it. It has spoiled me on one unique feature: 8 hour battery life.

    I go to conferences and don't worry about plugs or extra batteries. I can take notes, or do some work (usually), while the conference proceeds.

    The only drawbacks are: DSTN LCD screen (not viewable at the beach) and limited OS/apps.

    When the Crusoe-powered notebooks come I will definitely be looking to buy. But, which one??

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • How much longer would the batteries last?

    Founder's Camp []

  • Actually, the Sony Picturebooks are small... check
    out sony's site and look at one... they're kind
    of like a Libretto on steroids...

  • Only if you consider an two inches big, an ounce heavy, and $30 expensive, as that's what my 640x480 parallel port camera cost a year ago.

    By integrating into the case, Sony should be able to bring the cost down.

    You can see pictures I took with it at home page.

  • Ha ! Think yourself lucky.

    You should live in the UK where we watch cool things trickle from Japan to the US then eventually arrive here (usually about a year later) at twice the fucking price they were in America six months ago!!!
  • Gateway and America Online have also added their support, committing to use chips from Transmeta for an Internet access device.

    Hmmm. So, we combine this with the earlier [] article from today, and we get a Gateway-built AOL set-top box, running Linux on a Crusoe, correct?? :O Very cool, indeed.
  • Well, this should be a good little boost for Sony's laptop division. They should get plenty of extra sales, just by riding on the Transmeta buzz.

    On the flip side of the coin, other PC makers will want to see how well this thing performs. Hopefully it'll get good marks from the press: if it does, then Transmeta should get quite a few extra orders on the back of this one.
  • I suspect that when the sony does get released in the United States, as the CNet article seemed to indicate that it is going to be, Intel will probably drop prices on notebook procs so far that none of us will be able to buy a Crusoe machine without wincing. It should be interesting to see how AMD reacts once they're in a position similar to Intel's a few years ago. That is, an up-and-coming chip manufacturer is offering a really neat product at a decent price, and performance doesn't seem to suffer for it.
  • ok, since Transmeta 'came out' I've been ready to buy a crusoe-based machine. Yup, eight months. Nope, none here yet.

    I know everyone is saying 'later on this year', but I'm dyin' ova here. Are there any real ETAs on any of the announced devices?

  • I'd rather IBM or someone more dependable.

    If you read the article, you'll find that IBM may introduce a notebook in the fourth quarter using the Crusoe.

  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:07AM (#854841)
    The vaio series has a history of packing tons of features into a small package. My z505hs has a 500 MHz processor, 256 MB of RAM, a 12 GB disk, built-in 100 Mbps ethernet, built-in audio, built-in Lucent winmodem (works with Linux!), infra-red port, 2 usb ports, a firewire link, a pcmcia slot, and a memory stick slot. All of that without any dongles or docking stations, in a < 4lb package.

    In fact, the only thing that could make the z505 better is a less power-hungry processor. The stock battery in the z505 only lasts an hour under normal use.

    As for the Vaio C1 series, it has almost all of the equipment that the z505 has, without the extra usb port and the built-in ethernet. It even has the same screen resolution (1024x768), albeit in a smaller size. With the Crusoe processor, that little 2-lb machine may be even more neat.

  • I wonder how the price of the Transmeta unit will compare to those of the Intel-powered slimnotes. It seems like this unit will be pit against mini-notebooks like the Toshiba Libretto. If you have ever used one of these, you will recognize how difficult it is to use these smaller notebooks productively and how lacking they are as far as functionality and expandability (not to mention their inflated price). Since Transmeta's chips require less power, Sony can use a cheaper, lighter and less powerful battery without affecting runtime, so maybe this will help their slimnote be cheaper and lighter than those made by Toshiba, using the Intel chips.
  • This makes sense. It appears that this notebook is the replacement for the C1 picturebook (which is pretty cool in its own right).

    The Crusoe would be a good choice for the laptop, with its power and heat efficiency. The old C1 (which Sony still sells, albeit not very many) is run off a P2 400.

    If it could boot up faster, I think it would be a great pseudo-pda. It is only slightly larger then the HP Jornada 690 and the Psion Revo's.

    As it is, I guess they are marketing it to digital artists (digital camera included, firewire interface, some crappy digital imaging software).

    I like the idea of niche laptops, if they would lose the digital camera and maybe market a version of it to "road warriors" (I hate that term) I think it would be tres cool...
  • Still doesn't mean i wouldn't prefer IBM over Sony.

  • the model that'll come with it is the one with the built in camera and weights 2.2lbs. yes, it does have a winmodem. i love my vaio. the only thing that was missing was a eth0 port, so i had to buy a pcmcia card. they're small and light and people love to see them.

    i was at a cafe and someone pointed over to my notebook and started a conversation with the lady next to him. geezus, my vaio is so sexy, other people are using it to get dates!

  • I have really liked the Sony machines in the past. What I am hoping is that this will be a little cheaper.
    All the Sony machines already have killer battery life so adding a Transmeta chip might just make these the killer hardware app for those long airplane flights.
  • But since it's not a full-sized laptop, should we assume it will be full-featured?

    Given the state of microelectronics today, I find that question a bit bizarre. For instance, you could put the modem/sound card/etc. directly on the motherboard. Need more expandibility? Put any external ports (parallel, ethernet) on a docking station (you wouldn't use those on the go anyway).

  • Yes its possible. That's how mine is currently set up.
  • this is ment to be a reply to the thread above this thread....curse my shaking hands and poor eyesight!
  • Panasonic is in the laptop (even sub-laptop) market. I don't know if there are any Panasonic laptops available in the US, but I saw a Japanese Panasonic laptop which 3 years ago was thinner and cooler looking than anything else available then (and probably now).
  • I've see demos of Sony's mini cameras designed for use with next gen mobile phones/PDAs. The lens is smaller than a dime and the whole thing is about the size of a sugar cube. The camera plugged into the side of the phone to take an image and upload via wireless data connection to the net. The camera also had a mode for close in (macro) shots of text for OCR purposes. They demonstrated shooting a business card and having the text appear on screen.

    A laptop with this built-in camera feature would add little mass/bulkiness. Sony was a little slow to the PC marketplace, but they do understand ergonomics and proper feature implementation better than most other laptop makers. I've worked on a Vaio laptop and it has 'the feel' that a Toshiba or Compaq lacks.

    Note to self-> Order replacement laptop at office today...
  • I got a vaio some months back, and it is not quite as cool as it looks - it's slow, the screen has got the dreaded "always-on" pixel (and Sony refuse to do something about it unless at least 4 pixels are broken !), using external monitor/tv out requires a reboot - in short, I preferred my old dell. Maybe Sony should stick to TV's, diskmen and Aibos !

    Wanna bet the Transmeta device will look totally droolworthy, but prove to be a toy for marketers rather than geeks ?

  • by DebtAngel ( 83256 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:10AM (#854853) Homepage
    After following a few links on the Sony site, I dug up the following:

    This product line, C1, exists, and it's first model powered by a Celeron 400. It's about the 10 by 6 inches, making it look like a really big WinCE device, only it runs 98 SE.

    The standard battery lasts between one and two hours. That is, as you can imagine, pretty unacceptable. Moving to the Crusoe is a good move here, because can probably get another hour to 90 minutes out of it. Then, when upgrading to a "quad capacity battery", you can get about 12 to 16 hours out of it, which means you can use it most of the day.

    And for those people bitching about it's small size, this is the market Transmeta was aiming for, so there. :)
  • Well, I saw a presentation on this once at CMU, about a project they were doing to significantly lower computing resource consumption (Power was just a small part of it). From what I remember, the processor and the screen are the two big power hogs in a laptop. So lowering power usage for the processor can make a big difference, but it isn't everything. Even a laptop with a sleeping processor uses a lot of power, but not NEAR as much as one doing heavy workload. However, it takes a processor like Transmeta's to really get a power-consumption/compute-cycle savings. Most of the other processors (at least at the time of the presentation) actually used more power/compute at low power settings.

    So, yes, using a Crusoe will significantly improve battery life over other processors, but the screen still uses up a lot of power, so you can only get so far.
  • Is it too much to ask for some non-proprietary features? Like standard interfaces for perifrials?

    Visit DC2600 []
  • As the subject line says, why the excitement over Crusoe?

    Admittedly it should lead to longer battery life, but it's "just" an x86 (yes, I know about the code morphing, but for all intents and purposes it's an x86).

    As far as I can see, this is just some sort of cult-of-celebrity thing, ohh look, Linus Torsvalds, whatever it is must be good.
  • One of Sony's standing points with laptops is that they're built for multimedia. A/V outs, firewire, the whole bit. No one has yet questioned, however, whether a Crusoe chip is going to be any good at CPU-intensive functions like light video-editing (especially with all that x86 emulation going on). Wouldn't it be better to stick with a tried and true Intel or AMD chip?

    (Also, with 15-inch XGA screens on some of their machines, what benefit is a Crusoe chip going to afford? Isn't most of the power going to be sucked through the screen anyway?)

  • I'd rather IBM or someone more dependable

    A friend of mine has a Thinkpad and I have a VAIO. So far, he hates his (battery problems) and I love mine. Haven't had any problems with it over the last six months.

    The moral of the story: Everyone's experience is different.

  • Remember that Sony Camcorder that had infra red capabilities?
    Yeah, and some people reported that in a particular mode, you could see thru clothes!!
    Bet the R&D team kept that a secret. Must have had a lot of fun testing it.
    But since Sony has such a good marketing wing, the product was all over South East Asia and they had a tough time recalling back all the pieces.
    But I would give anything to somebody who has a piece left.


    I post first, I get noticed.
    I post first, I get seen
    I post first, I get moderated
    And my website is where every body's been.

    my website=
    [the site is cooler than it's name]
  • Troll. IBM already announced their Crusoe-powered notebook offering may be shipping 4th Quarter. It's in the article if you cared to read it.

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • I'm just happy to see that Sony can put out a product using the latest technology and manufacturers. Shows Sony can do it's homework and is looking to bring out a better product to fit the needs of power frugal laptop users.

    Even the samurai
    have teddy bears,
    and even the teddy bears

  • I thought it even more bizarre given the list of features, i-Link and USB and stuff. How many more toys can we want?

    What I want to know is, how well will it compare with my baby Powerbook, which has USB and external SCSI just the way I wanted?
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • These Sony devices are always cool until the price comes around.

    When the Sony PDA came around, I was very enthusiastic. This thing had the ability to kick Palm's ass. But then I saw the price. It was well over 600 dollars.

    So although these Sony devices are truly cool, the price just makes them an unreasonable substitute to cheaper brands.
  • 4 is quite good for a return. Many requires 6 to be out before they will let you return the display. This is one reason to try the laptop at a store before you bring it home.

    I'm quite happy with my VAIO... then again it weighs 2.7lbs. That's lighter than a lot of books I carry around.

    Solaris/FreeBSD/Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...

  • I have successfully used a "real" modem on a laptop that came with a winmodem without having to take out the winmodem or mess with it in any way (girlfriend's laptop, else I'd have just chunked it). Only problem you might run into is, depending on your choice of distribution, some sort of auto-detect that *thinks* it can use the winmodem and doesn't bother looking beyond that. Luckily, in my case, the *real* modem was the only one detected, so life was made easy.

    I had a similar problem with trying to use a soundcard on an older computer with onboard sound. Red Hat 6.2 recognized the onboard sound and quit looking. It can be done, though. Being the grasshopper I am, it took a series of connecting/disconnecting the sound card and shutting down the machine. I've since learned that it's easier than that, so you might have a better idea.

    Hope that helped. At least knowing something *can* be done can be motivational. *chuckle*
  • I, of course, ordered a sturdy dell. Then my co-worker quit so I took the sony he just ordered instead. Unfortunately, I've had more problems with it than you can imagine. If you stare at the plastic funny, it'll break. They are *really* cheaply made. I'll never buy one again. My co-worker, against my advice, just ordered 4 of them for a different department. They arrived last week and he's already told me he wished he'd listened to me.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:22AM (#854867)

    Linus for working at Transmeta and signing NDA's should be feeling pretty silly if he managed to bring Linux on to Sony notebooks..

    Obviously you have never dealt with Sony. For the world: If you're running anything but the CD that came with your notebook Sony will not talk to you. Hey world: Sony's technical support SUCKS.

    I run a oldschool P233 Sony Vaio 505 I picked up for a good deal online; It runs linux like a charm, it has a real modem, and one of these days I'll get the extended battery for it so I can get a 3-4 hour life (get about 1h 25m now, in linux. Would do better if I got the HD spinning down). It's ironic that a company with such HORRIBLE technical support makes one of the most linux-compatible notebooks (at least this particular model). Thank god it hasn't broken (although it really needs that extended battery and more memory :).

    All you people that are drooling over the C1: Yeah, it runs linux, and yes, Linus has one, but the almighty himself couldn't get the specs on writing code for that little camera it comes with. Or the winmodem that's in it. Hopefully the transmeta version will have a Penguin on the side, but I doubt it.

    I'll believe these will make good linux notebooks when I see it. Sony is very entrenched in the consumer electronics mentality, and in the consumer electronics world, you don't fuck with it, and likely, you don't even bother to get it fixed.

    There's my rant for the day. To their credit: My 505 is the only piece of computer hardware I have ever had a female tell me was "Sexy". Cool. :)

  • A reply to a reply. Yes, i know IBM is supposedly releasing theirs too. I'd rather IBM or someone else none the less.

  • They *are* an RIAA member []. OTOH, I've always said that any Sony boycott (at least in the US) would last until October 26, 2000 :).
  • I've had a panasonic notebook, it died after a year and had problems in between. I've had a Sony N505VE for about a year now and have had no problems. It's almost the perfect laptop for me if I could just replace the stupid winmodem w/ builtin ethernet and make it not run so hot. BTW, I also have a Sony receiver that hasn't worked correctly since the day I got it.

    It goes both ways.
  • I'm lucky, my vaio is screen flawless.

    A quick search on the web will bring up some information on how you can get a couple more bad pixels on the screen / dead pixels and then you can get a new screen. Those things cost so much there is no reason you should have to deal with a stuck pixel.

    Of course, I'm not encouraging fraud, or anything. *grin*

  • The Picturebook line of Vaios doesn't sell very well - it's too small to be useful as a "real" laptop.

    I disagree that it's too small. My usual computer is a similar mini-notebook. The low weight makes it something I don't think twice about throwing in my briefcase *everyday*. Now the market for weight-conscious mobile computing is small, but that dosn't make the device "not useful".
  • Or is this another cool thing that stays in Japan and eventually trickles down to the U.S.?

    What is that suppose to mean? Unless your a die-hard game fan drewling over the latest Playstation model, Japan doesn't really produce any 'cool' toys.

    I bet that most of Sony's innovative products are developed right here in the U.S.
  • Linus owns a vaio, and has stated publicly that some of his kernel hacking was to make his vaio run longer []:

    By James Niccolai, IDG News Service

    San Jose (August 11, 1999) -- Linus Torvalds wants more battery life from his Sony Corp. Vaio notebook, so naturally, better power management is among the improvements planned for the next version of the Linux kernel. Apparently that's how it goes when you've been anointed "the leader of the free world" by your open source peers.
  • I have a compaq laptop w/ a crappy lucent winmodem -- I got a 56k US Robotics PCMCIA, works beautifully.
  • That's like me saying 'well my truck has a 360, it had better be faster off the line and corner better then a 'Vette or Im just going to write it off as junk.'
    kinda missing the point. If you remember, Transmeta said right off the bat that they are not aiming for an insane amount of MIPS. Transmeta wants to create a well performing computer that is POWER efficient. Adobe Premier wasn't intended to run on a laptop. It's unrealistic, with the current crop of laptops, to even consider it. Laptops are still not a complete replacement for a power users desktop. Transmeta wants to essentially offer a longer power cord for mobile users. That's what they profess, that's what they've done.

    ...and the geeek shall inherit the earth...

  • I find a really small computer far more useful than a big laptop. A big-sized notebook might be more powerful, but I've got desktop machines at home and work for that. Before I'd lug a 5-7lb notebook (+ big ole protective bag) somewhere, I'd have to decide if it's really worth the bother. On the other hand, I just slip my Toshiba Libretto in my coat pocket and go, without a second thought.


  • The Crusoe chip in the C1 series would be great. I agree, this laptop is a little small in size (i.e. keyboard) and thus would not make a good primary computer. However, for those that already have nice beefy desktop workstations, this laptop is great as a secondary computer that you can take with you anywhere. It's small enough you can just wrap it in a towel and throw in your standard backpack/bookbag. It's got a 12 gb HD onto which I put tons of mp3's.

    Linux runs quite well on it. I've been running Mandrake on it for a few months now. CowboyNeal himself has installed Debian on his. The only thing disppointing about this laptop is that it uses a Winmodem (starting with the latest C1-XS model), but I don't mind as much, since I pretty much only use the PCMCIA eth0 on it. Otherwise, it's a really nice laptop. When I boot into Win98, I can roam around work and use this little computer like a digital camera, since you can swivel the camera so that it's pointing away from you.

    It's got a nice widescreen LCD on it, which makes watching those letterbox DivX:-) movies a joy. With the Crusoe chip, you might be able to watch a bunch of movies during a cross country plane ride!


  • I'm sure I've seen a story recently about an LCD with a tiny piece of RAM behind each pixel (Its not in my browser history so I can only assume I read it in some treeware). This was supposed to substantially lower the power consumption of the screen, but its only at the research stage at the moment. It'll probably come out the same time 18" TFTs become affordable
  • It's not a cult thing as far as I'm concerned. I want to buy a subnotebook that can go for at least 4 hours on a charge. I'd also like it to run cool enough that I can use it on my lap. I'm hoping one or another of these Transmeta devices will fit the bill.

    I've currently got a IBM Workpad z50 and it's got almost everything I want except a hard drive and the software availability sucks rocks so I'm thinking Transmeta might be the way to go. If these don't pan out, I'll take another look at the iBook.
  • I noticed in the topic that Sony won't be able to keep them on the shelves if they put a Transmeta in blah blah blah.

    Riiiight. I'm sure the millions of people who have heard of Linus, Linux, and the Transmeta will be buying it out of worship. Only time will tell.
  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:47AM (#854882)
    These things may not have sold well before, but with one of those babys inside it...

    I remember one of the UK PC mags - PCW IIRC - going mad over this when it first apeared, and I can see why. It's just so _cute_, that size and with that camera. I was sorely tempted when I saw a 233 model going for UKP900 a while back, but managed to be good :)

    I've just got a Psion 5. Lovely machine, not without its problems - but neither was my Palm III. Gave up on that because I realised I needed a keyboard.

    Now. A Psion 5 is already too big for a pocket. This isn't much bigger - certainly no bigger than an LG Phenom Express. Except it's got a 1024*480 colour screen rather than my Psion's 640*240 16 greyscale. It can run Windows so I don't have such a limited software range. And, with this chip, it'll now run all day.

    Yes, it's heavier. Yes, it's more fragile. Yes, it's more expensive and yes, it won't power up instantly. But let's be honest here. If we're sensible with the install, Windows will still boot within 30 seconds, which is good enough nost of the time. It'll also be a lot faster. And you still have to be careful with PDAs. I cracked my Palm III's screen, for example...

    They're not as stupid as they look, releasing it first in one of these. Were I a little richer, I'd look at one.
  • Hmmm. So, we combine this with the earlier article from today, and we get a Gateway-built AOL set-top box, running Linux on a Crusoe, correct?? :O Very cool, indeed.

    Specifically, running the new stable Debian 2.2 "Potato" :)

  • I would *guess* that the reduced size could have as much to do with the Crusoe's reduced power consumption as anything else. At least I would hope that this helps it reduce the size.

    The heat output should be less so they can cram more stuff around the processor. :-)

  • yeah. I work with a couple of them every day. You'll probably be seeing them by november.
  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @07:03AM (#854886) Homepage
    After owning a bit of sony hardware (phones and audio equpit.) and checking out Consumer Reports, they are third in defective hardware. Is this going to be a shot to the proverbial foot for Transmeta?

    I can't speak for Consumer Reports testing process, but I have seen similar sounding measurements of product "quality". Primarily, they survey repair shops and find out what makes and models they end up repairing the most.

    The Sony/Panasonic/Toshiba/etc stuff is only apparently less reliable in this sort of study because people seldom bring broken Samsung/Gold Star/Funai/etc to the repair shop - they just bin it.

    That's not to say that anyone makes good consumer electronics these days - it's all cheap, disposeable plastic crap. They're as expendable as a Honda or a Toyota. But I will say this, Sony stuff is usually pretty consistent.

    For one thing, it's a rare Sony Trinitron TV set that doesn't make it to its 20th anniversary. Sadly, I'll have to wait another 19 years to see if last year's models make it that long. Note that in those 20 years, the TV set may have had to go in for a repair once. The no-name or off-brand stuff is long landfilled.

    In a TV station I worked in, we had huge piles of Sony KV-1710 TV sets that were all over the building as on-air monitors and stuff like that. Nothing really serious, TV in the Green Room, General Manager's office, etc. These things were *always* on during the day, and lived a hard life. I must have put new picture tubes into half of them (the electronics just wouldn't die, even though the screens were burned in). Finally, we started to replace them as they broke. They'd usually pop a fuse or something and play dead, so I'd replace them with a new Sony KV-1926. People would hang around the engineering department, hoping that I'd fix one of the old KV-1710s for them to take home. And out of a fleet of thirty+ of them, I only ended up using two for parts - the rest got nice retirements.

    One of the parts TV sets had come off the mobile truck, where it had been bolted up as the PROGRAM monitor over the sound guy's console. It bit the dust when one of the talent was driving the mobile truck and smacked it into an awning. A hole was torn through both the side of the truck and the side of the TV set. (Hint: No matter how loudly the weatherman begs to try driving the "big truck", never let him.)

    The other parts TV set was just badly broken electronically (bad flyback transformer, horizontal output, damper, horiz oscillator and power supply regulator). I wasn't surprised it was dead. I was surprised that it was the *only one* that was really too far gone.

    If Sony builds their computers like their TV sets (and, indeed, like most of their consumer and professional video equipment), if you treat it right, it'll last you a while.

  • I have a C1 series VAIO laptop - the PCG-C1XD to be precise. The sole
    reason I got it was *because* it's so small. It actually fits in the inside
    pocket of the coat that I wear (granted, it has big pockets..).

    The comment most people seem to make (apart from 'hey, that looks cool!')
    is to ask whether or not the keyboard is big enough to touch-type on. It
    is. I'm doing so now.

    If only I'd waited for a crusoe-powered version, I'd have the perfect
    laptop. I mean, I have firewire, usb, 12gig harddrive, PII400 cpu, in
    something that I can type properly on, easily carry in one hand and weighs
    about 1kg (with battery). What more could I want? Oh, and the built-in
    camera's cool too (there's a package available that allows you to use it
    under Linux) :)
  • The Picturebook line of Vaios doesn't sell very well - it's too small to be useful as a "real" laptop.

    I couldn't disagree more. It's pretty much the perfect size. A regular laptop is just too big to carry around all the time. The Vaio Picturebook line, like the Libretto before it, is pretty much ideal. A "real" laptop, as you call it, has no practical value as far as I can see. They're too big to be portable, and too underpowered for the desktop. Apparently, however, Toshiba were forced to withdraw the Libretto from the American market, because the general public couldn't cope with the small keyboard. I expect the picturebook line to go the same way. Sigh. From my point of view, the keyboard size is just right. It's quite big enough to type at full speed, unlike those found on traditional palmtops and many CE devices. It's worth noting that here in the UK, the smaller Vaios seem to be more prevalent than their full size brethren (although this is purely anecdotal -- I don't have sales figures). Perhaps it's a US thing. Either way, I'm still having to resort to importing my Libretoo ff1100V from Japan, 'coz that's the only place it's available anymore :-(

  • How can I know that a particular laptop's built in hardware (modems, ehternet, CD/DVD ROM, video, etc.) is supported under Linux ****BEFORE**** I buy the notebook? Notebooks seem to change model numbers and hardware constantly. By the time Linux compatibility information on a particular laptop is available, it's been discontinued.

    Is there such a thing as "Certified Linus Compatible" on laptops?

    The only thing I know for sure is that Compaqs are always incompatible.

  • by LiamQ ( 110676 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @07:14AM (#854890)
    Have a look at Linux on Laptops []. They link to Linux reports on just about every notebook model you'll find.
  • too small to be useful as a "real" laptop

    Um, hello? I for one would never even consider using a laptop that weighed more than 3 pounds or was too big to hold comfortably (and safely) in one hand. If you want a huge bulky machine with a 15" monitor, for crying out loud, buy a freaking desktop. The whole point of having a laptop is small size, aka portability. If you can feel the weight of your laptop in your backpack, you bought the wrong machine. When you can get a P-II 400MHz machine with 128MB RAM, a 12GB drive, a keyboard that is easily large enough for anyone to touch-type on, and every other feature of a full-sized machine in a case only minimally larger than a VHS tape (and half the thickness, for that matter), how on earth does that equal "not useful"? Sheesh.
  • Yes, it's more expensive and yes, it won't power up instantly. But let's be honest here. If we're sensible with the install, Windows will still boot within 30 seconds, which is good enough nost of the time.

    Most of the time, you won't be booting the OS. You'll just be resuming from a suspend to disk, which should only take a few seconds. Boot time isn't an issue. Obviously, it's more of an issue under Windows where you need to reboot more often for all manner of reasons (software installs, configuration changes, random crashes, etc.)

  • by Amokscience ( 86909 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @07:18AM (#854893) Homepage
    According to one of the newsgroups (sorry don't remember the name) I lurked in for a while Sony laptops were excellent machines... until you had a problem. Then the almost universal opinion was that Sony's customer service 'sucked'. IBM on the other hand seemed to have both excellent products and very good service. Computers (and especially laptops) are NOT the same as a TV or monitor. With laptops you expose them to a great deal of potential jarring and abuse as oppose to a tv or monitor that may never move in the X years that you own it.

    No, I don't have hard facts. Just reporting the general consensus that many of us base our buying decisions on. All of that said, I think Sony products are almost irresistably appealing once you get one in your hands.
  • Funny thing about my Sony VAIO Z505S: Resuming from a suspend in Linux takes one second. Resuming from a suspend in Windows takes 90 seconds.

    Yes, the "Designed for Windows 98" sticker did peel off quite easily.

  • The fact that it has a camera built in and that it's a crusoe chip means it'll be aimed at travel-conscious, like the Sony Picturebook [] series, more than likely.

    This is cool for many people, like my friend the flight attendant who needed something that fit in her carry-on.

  • *sigh* Replying to low I've fallen....

    For the record, I never scorned WebTV devices. And given all the hacking that the Tivo, for one, has undergone, I fully expect that anything that comes of this will be quickly disassembled and put back together, probably with a new toaster feature or something similar. :) In any case, it actually matters little if the end user can tell what is being run; market dominance is established by sneaking in through the cracks, NOT by launching a full-frontal assault on the current leaders.
  • Don't take this as a flame, but who would be doing video editing on a laptop?

    Laptops are all about maximum battery life. They achieve this by compromising speed for lower power usage. Video editing is all about high speed disc access, powerful video processors, and bright displays. Laptops deliberately lack strength in these areas.

    Using a Intel or AMD chip will add more to the power usage budget than a Transmeta promises to do.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sony is, by all rights, the Source of All Things Evil to most /.ers. Power member of the MPAA (currently attempting to destroy life, liberty, and the pursuit of playback happiness), major financial support of the RIAA (those bastards who seem to think that information wants to be at least $17.99)...

    And yet, here comes a new toy! Nevermind the three or four calls for "boycotts" and "buycotts", I've gotta be the First On My Block To Have One! Especially due to -- and this is the kicker -- "Sony's reputation for making the coolest looking gizmo's"

    Ugh, this was a bit more vitriolic than I expected. Ah well, (Score: -1, Troll).

  • I got a Libretto to replace my aging Compaq Contura Aeros some time ago and I must say I was disappointed. It's a slick little machine but the keyboard is completely useless. It's too small to even hunt & peck on. That's the last time I buy a laptop with out taking it out for a test drive first. I have tried the Picturebook in the store and found it's keyboard to be wonderful. I'm definately thinking that my next portable computer will be one of the light-weight Vaios.


  • PIII 600+ is not underpowered.

    OK, perhaps I chose my words poorly. The CPU isn't underpowered, but the machine as a whole isn't suitable for everyday desktop use. The keyboard is too small, and laptops lack a proper mouse. Yes, you can get these via a docking station, but then why not just get a decent desktop to start with? The real killer, though, is that they lack a suitable graphics chip and sufficient video RAM to be able to drive an external monitor at a sensible resolution. I have to use my desktop machine all day. LCD screens aren't yet good enough, or large enough for that.

    Too big? So this is why in almost every office and every airport you see hundreds of people carrying them around. Perhaps for you and personal use they are too big, but that's just you.

    Beats me why they're so popular. Why do you assume (incorrectly) I'd only want one for personal use?

  • laptops lack a proper mouse.

    Most laptops let you use a USB mouse, but IMO mice are overrated. I much prefer my laptop's touchpad to a "proper mouse". With a touchpad, my hand doesn't have to stray as far from the keyboard, and when my hand tires I can switch to the other hand more easily and comfortably than with a mouse.

  • > If only Sony were smart enough to put this chip in their regular Vaios, they wouldn't be able to keep them on the shelves.

    I question this one. Firstly, I'm all for Transmeta - they've done some really cool stuff, and are one of the few processor groups that have done anything radical in the last few years, so this isn't a rant at them. I'm curious about the quote above.

    To the general public, they won't care what processor is under the hood - they just want something that runs Windows in a small package. In fact, not having "Intel Inside" written on it could be a detractor as far as Joe Public is concerned - PC = Intel for a lot of people.

    In addition, I'm not sure how much of a battery saving a Crusoe chip will bring this kind of device - I'd imagine that the LCD panel, hard disk, etc. are going to take a fair whack too.

    Adding "Transmeta Inside" may make it appeal to geeks, but I don't think it'll significantly cause the product to shift, unless it really does provide significant battery savings.

    Still, on the plus side, the low power sleep mode on the Crusoe really makes sense for this kind of device. And it's good to see Transmeta getting the validation they deserve after all those ney-sayers crying "where are the customers?".

    -- Michael

  • Yep, Toshiba [] came up with this. Apparently it uses the SRAM to prevent the screen from needing to be refreshed when the picture is static. (Think of the difference between SRAM, which does not to be refreshed, and your standard stick of DRAM, which does) Check out the eetimes article he re []. The problem I see with this is that SRAM can get mighty expensive in large quantities....I don't see them making even an 8" screen with this technique.

    Email me.
    Don't trust anyone over 90000.
  • But the almighty himself couldn't get the specs on writing code for that little camera it comes with.

    Like Sony PCG-C1XS Picturebook Camera Capture [] you mean?

    How does he find the time to work on so much neat software?

  • by xtal ( 49134 )

    I stand corrected. Have to put the C1 on my list of replacements for the 505 to watch for next year, I guess. Their tech support still sucks donkey --- though. :) Most people would just be happy if they'd acknowledge when stuff is busted and not make you reinstall the crappy-OS it came with to prove the point. There was a time when Sony customer service kicked ass, but not anymore. At least not their computing division..

  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @11:38AM (#854930) Homepage
    Really? Have the Trinitron tubes really been out that long? I don't know much about the TVs, but the Trinitron tubes in the monitors certainly don't last as long as a 'standard' CRT before the picture goes fuzzy, and I've seen a lot of them.

    Sony has never made a color TV set that wasn't a Trinitron.

    Remember, back in the late 1960s, the only kind of color TV picture tube there was was a "Delta". If you look at the front of a very old color TV set, you'll usually notice that the phosphor dots are arranged in little triangular patterns. That's in contrast to a more modern TV set where the picture tube has an inline gun, and the phosphors reflect that by being arranged in vertical stripes or segments.

    Note that this doesn't apply to computer monitors. All VGA monitors I've ever opened have inline guns, and with the exception of the Trinitrons, they seem to have delta-type phosphors. (Like a four door car with three door handles, something doesn't add up. Weird.)

    Anyhow, the prime advantage of the inline tube is that it simplifies convergence (making the red, blue and green guns all point at the same cluster of phosphors at the same time - look for color fringing at the corners of your TV sets and monitors to see misconvergence).

    But Sony's inline tubes take it to the next level: instead of having three guns arranged in one row at the neck of the tube, a Sony Trinitron has *one* gun at the back, with three cathodes. In effect, it's a gun that shoots three different bullets at once. It's a lot easier to aim one gun than it is three; and so it's a great improvement on the three-gun inline systems.

    Add to that the sharp corners and flatter screens that Sony was able to manufacture (with atrocious yield rates at first, BTW) and the early Trinitrons became very popular. Now, of course, Sony has improved on that with the ultraflat Wega (which still appears to be a kind of Trinitron) but I don't know anything about the CRT arrangements in their new line.

    So, when Sony sold their first color TV sets in North America in 1969, they were all Trinitrons. (Wow. That was from memory, too, but I wanted to confirm it, and I did... Head to this link on Sony's website! []

    Sony's electronics were also way ahead at the time, too: in 1954 Sony sold their first transistor radios in North America, and were pioneers in transistorized TV sets. In 1969, the only other solid state (transistorized) color TV sets were Zeniths. Everybody else was still using all tubes or hybrids (tubes and transistors mixed), with the many reliability and efficiency problems that tubes have.

    (Sidetracked...) When I was a kid, I had a 19" Motorola color TV set from 1972 that actually had a ?6BQ5? horizontal output tube. There was a damper tube, and a high voltage rectifier tube (1B3), and a high voltage regulator tube. And all of those tubes were driven off a little 16 pin DIP IC that sat in a tiny white socket right beside them. (This was back in the days when all ICs and transistors were socketed.)

    As for Trinitrons dying sooner, nah, I don't think that's actually the case. When the color starts to fail (ie. white starts to go pink, and adjusting the bias and screen controls inside (do this *only* if you know what you're doing) won't bring it back), it's generally because the barium oxide coating is worn off the CRT cathodes. That takes a lot of use. All picture tubes have a finite lifespan, but usually the electronics surrounding the picture tube will die before it does.

    In my experience, places where you see lots of Sony monitors (like the flight displays at Terminal 3 at Pearson International Airport) are also the places where they rack up the most hours. Of course you can expect them to go pink faster.

    BTW, the "pink" color is actually a purplish-pink, caused by the fact that the green phosphors require the most energy (and therefore cathode lifespan) to light up. The blue is somewhat behind. So, it appears that the green goes first, and the blue emission starts to get low, leaving a field of mostly red. Hence the trademark pinky-purple color of a worn out CRT.

    <sigh> I guess I'm a video geek.

  • FWIW, we have a Vaio with a bad keyboard, and another with the screen going out.
  • I purchased an extra capacity battery for my Sony and would get 4-6 hours out of it. With a Crusoe chip it should get close to 8 hours (if you don't use the CD/DVD too much...).

    The Sony didn't last long though, it broke after three months. Repair was painful and now it's dead for the third time. I have given up on it: too much hassle.

    I would probably consider the IBM: the laptop I write this on is built like a tank (with the weight that goes with that!) and I would trust them more than Sony. I am, however, sure that the Sony will have some nifty features.

    PS: Like the AC I'd like to know about your experiences with NetBSD on the IBM. How does it work, exactly?

  • The Sony/Panasonic/Toshiba/etc stuff is only apparently less reliable in this sort of study because people seldom bring broken Samsung/Gold Star/Funai/etc to the repair shop - they just bin it
    I have to strongly agree with this. I recently, foolishly, fed a non-Sony head cleaning tape through my X822. I not only took it straight off to repair, but I bought a 2000S the same day. When the old deck came back, I gave it to my mother, who swapped out her old Teac thing. It was left off for a couple of weeks and when it was plugged back in the power supply fried itself, just like my old Teac deck. It was duly binned.
  • In addition to the other two replies so far, there is a HOWTO especially for the cute little VAIO PCG-C1XD [].
  • FWIW, I have a Sharp ultralight with a dodgy power jack (already been repaired once, but it didn't take). This information is meaningless.
  • With the extra battery life Crusoe offers, I think it would be a crime not to do a keyboard-less tablet with built-in Bluetooth, once the technology is out. Imagine how nice a Sony tablet, RF cordless keyboard and mouse would look - and to be able to just pick it up and work off-site for a whole day would be heaven.
  • OK now that I know the CI or is it C1 or Cl or ... family of VAIO's I am clear that I won't be getting a Sony Crusoe-powered notebook.

    I saw one of these crippled machines at Fry's last week and rolled my eyes and said, "Why bother?"

    I forgot two other reasons why I like my Workpad z50:

    1. 95%-scale silent keyboard
    2. 10" LCD screen (640 x 480)
    I won't buy a notebook that doesn't have a regular TFT (ok, maybe HPN) monitor, near-full-size keyboard, and 8 hour battery-life (half a day of work).

    Looks like I'll be getting an IBM later this year.

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • I wrote about my Workpad z50 & NetBSD experience extensively here [] but I doubt anyone saw it (it was a response to a story posted by Cliff...the least read author on Slashdot).

    Now hiring experienced client- & server-side developers

  • Smoke and Mirrors!!!

    Beware!!! I'm on my third VAIO now. While these sexy units appear good, it only skin deep. You'll be pulling your hair out trying to get things to work out the box. Faulty hardward, buggy gfx drivers and the list goes on.

    Any advantage gained by a using transmeta will be outweighed by Sony's poor track record with support.

    Sony only support Win98 and Win2k with their VAIO range of products. And even then they only support the factory installed (Buggy as hell) software setup. Also if you buy the system with Win98, and want to upgrade to Win 2000. Uh Oh. Sony refuse to distribute a complete set of drivers on the net or sell the driver CD's.

    And X Freaks will be disappointed by the use of NeoMagic MagicMedia(TM) range of DISCONTINUED graphics chips that are yet to get fully supported.

    So check your options before you waste your hard earned $$$. Lucky for me it hasn't been out my pocket.

    My 650000c AUS worth :)

  • Try carrying that desktop somewhere on a trip (business or otherwise...) Try using that desktop on a plane.

    You're missing my point. What I said was that a traditional laptop is poorly suited to being either portable or useful on the desktop. For mobile computing, something like a Libretto or a Picturebook Vaio is much better than a full sized laptop. Similarly, a desktop is better for when you're not travelling.

  • I have to strongly agree with this. I recently, foolishly, fed a non-Sony head cleaning tape through my X822.

    Doesn't matter who made the cleaning cassette. Don't use them, they're very destructive.

    The dry ones are abrasive and sand down your rotating video heads (which widens their gaps and therefore reduces their frequency response (resolution)). Further, as the heads protrude less and less from the video head drum, they contact the tape less, and the net effect is that the output is reduced. This means that the AGC in the video amps is cranked up higher and the amplifier noise ("hiss", in an audio amplifier) becomes more visible as snow on the screen. It's usually especially visible when the VCR is displaying a dark and rich color.

    The wet video head cleaners tend to stick to the head drum, and it takes a lot of force for the capstan to drag the wet tape. The VCR, of course, just tries to play the tape, and it defaults to attempting to spin the capstan at a given speed. If the capstan motor won't do x RPMs, the VCR's computer just runs the motor harder until it either does the right speed or pops the motor. They're multiphase AC motors, and the driver transistors often fry with these wet head cleaner cassettes. Other stuff that happens with wet cleaning cassettes is that since the capstan is pulling on the tape really hard to drag it over the drum, the guideposts and stuff between the capstan/pinch roller and the head drum all get bent or knocked out of alignment. Take up reel tables and clutches often die, too.

    Simply, a dry cleaning cassette is like trying to clean your glasses with fine sandpaper. A wet cleaning cassette is like trying to clean your glasses by throwing them over Niagara Falls. Either technique will remove fingerprints.

    Go to Borders, pick up a book on VCR repair, and read the chapter on cleaning your VCR. It's easy, everything you need is available at Radio Shack, and your VCR's picture will be better than with any cleaning cassette. Don't try to clean your VCR without reading the book - they're very delicate; it'd be as dangerous as guessing at syntax for rm while logged in as root.

    And then, give your cleaning cassettes to someone you don't like. The best part is, they'll even thank you.

    I not only took it straight off to repair, but I bought a 2000S the same day. When the old deck came back, I gave it to my mother, who swapped out her old Teac thing. It was left off for a couple of weeks and when it was plugged back in the power supply fried itself, just like my old Teac deck. It was duly binned.

    Well, anything electronic can and will eventually fail.

    I have only a little experience with Teac consumer-grade stuff: I've replaced the heads in a Teac cassette deck, and I've gotta say, it was great. Flip the lid off, pull the knobs off the front, flip the door open and up, then take out the two screws holding the facepanel on. From there, I was able to change the head in a few minutes. All the test points to attach my oscilloscope and true RMS voltmeter (no Stallman jokes) were nicely labelled on the PC board, which make aligning it very easy.

    I've never touched a Teac home VCR.

    But, remember that Teac is one of the best regarded name in recording equipment. Teac/Tascam open-reel audio tape decks are right up there with ReVox and Ferrograph in reputation. And Teac VTRs are up there in the same rarefied atmosphere as Sony and Ampex.

    Everything eventually will break. But I've never had any reason to knock Teac, either.

    BTW, when something like that, normally plugged in all the time, dies when you first attempt to use it after it's been idle for a while, check all the filter capacitors, especially those near transformers and regulators. They dry out, lose their "form", and short out. This creates hum in the DC power and overloads the regulators, shutting down either that leg of the supply, or the whole supply. A fix is usually a trip to the electronics store, a bunch of electrolytic capacitors, and 20 minutes of soldering.

  • Ahh! That explains it! (The color monitor on my late 80's Macintosh went pink a while ago, and it was in fact a Trinitron tube.)

    NO! All color picture tubes will tend to go pinkish, not just Trinitrons. A Trinitron is an excellent and high-tech picture tube, but it's really only an incremental improvement over the other inline tubes, which are themselves only an incremental improvement over a traditional delta (triangular gun arrangement) picture tube.

    There will be no revolutionary picture tube. The revolution will occur when LCD displays are perfected to a point where all new TV sets and computer monitors have LCD displays. (I don't think the plasma display is going to be revolutionary, they have too many of the same problems as picture tubes.)

    I think the difference is that the Sony product is the premium product; Sony can afford to build the things to last. As a result, the picture tube wears out before the electronics fail. Usually, with cheaper stuff, the electronics fail before the picture tube starts to wear out.

  • Hmm, maybe I didn't mean Teac. Perhaps I was thinking of a bunch of blank tapes I was looking through recently. My memory sucks, but now I'm thinking the cheap decks were Akai, not Teac. (hey, how different can they be - they've both got 4 letters).

    <sigh> Akai is a division of Mitsubishi. They made some high-end consumer electronics, but mostly they build synth controllers and other accessories for professional musicians.

    They also made probably the best engineered line of open reel decks to ever be sold to consumers en masse: The Akai M8, otherwise known as the Roberts 770X (this was back in 1965, when Japanese consumer electronics were very primitive, so the Anglo-Saxon name was essential).

    These things had a near bulletproof steel transport, would run at 15 inches per second tape speed (with a capstan adapter), and used a really neat head biasing system that Akai called the "Cross-Field". To this day, and after years of working professionally in the audio and video business, I have yet to see another machine that can rewind an 1,800 foot reel of tape in 90 seconds (fast rewinding can save your ass if you're a pro). What a noise they make. The motor sounded like it was powering a big air conditioner, and the rest of the machanism was so wonderfully tactile and solid.

    To this day, a 1965 Akai M8/Roberts 770X, in good working shape, is worth $300+ privately, though I've seen them sell in music stores for over $700. Not bad for a machine that retailed under $200 new (in 1965 dollars).

    I've got an Akai M8 and an M9, two Roberts 770X (one of them is a parts machine, it was in a flood), a Roberts 970X, two Akai 1800 SDs, and an Akai 1800SS four-track. These things are lovely, and compete very nicely with Otari and Teac/Tascam open reel decks of the era. Several early albums were recorded on these machines; Led Zeppelin reportedly used them along with Ferrographs.

    And, I'll tell you, when you've loaded up your Akai M8 with a set of brand new Sovtek (the Russians make the best tubes in the world) tubes, tossed on your 15 IPS capstan adapter, and threaded through a polyster CrO2 tape, you can make that thing sing.

    The theme from "The Kids in the Hall" was recorded on my M8, way back in 1990? 1991? Can't remember anymore, but I was gigging on weekends then. Great machine.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.