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Sony's Latest VAIO Looks Like Barf 245

luigi writes "Sony offers sneek peek at completely new designed Notebooks - VAIO QR. No technical data, prices, release dates available yet." i4u is a sort of a rumor mill: the sony pics are a little bit down, but you can check out links to to sony's japan site. Basically the cool little purple boxes have been replaced with a black and white thing that looks like it was designed by school children. Sorry: Not candy coating this one, it looks dumb.
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Sony's Latest VAIO Looks Like Barf

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    good point. I could care less what my computer looks like as well. it's what is on the inside that counts anyway :)

    I would much rather buy a solid black computer anyway, it's less distracting and saves $. Sony laptops are way overpriced as it is.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    it's like carrying around an advertisement. If I pay this much for a laptop, I shouldn't have to look at the big vaio logo everyday. What's next, a VAIO carrying case?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So according to the Japanese site, it's a "BAIO" over there.

    Make what witty one-liners of that as you will.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That was a typo.

    God is "inflatable".
  • It was made by Fisher-Price though....
  • by mosch ( 204 )
    a) so don't buy one.

    b) so don't buy one.

    as for not letting your clients carry a laptop without a case, well.... what are you, their mother? Why do you care?

    I carry a laptop in a backpack most of the time, and my laptops have hit the ground more times than I care to think about. Even with treating them with approximately the same amount of care I give to rocks or dirt, they usually last about a year.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"
  • I thought the color scheme for the new VIAOs looks an awful lot like the Slashdot website. The picture wasn't exactly of the highest resolution, but it looked like it was blue-ish green, black, and white. Did anybody else see the resemblance?
  • This is majorly redundant, but it looks damned awesome. The design is brilliant. I would love to have one of these to lug around. Why cant you just post a link and what not to the new laptop, and instead of investing the post with your bullshit opinion, let us decide what to think of it. Eh? Dont you think that would be a better idea then making the title say it looks like BARF.

  • Taco, you're a moron. But I digress.

    These things look cool, and like someone said earlier, Japanese design aesthetics don't necessarily match our own.

    I applaud Sony for breaking the mold on boring black and/or grey slabs of no consequence. I think laptops should look cooler than most do these days.

    How is this any different than the Powerbook with it's whack glowing apple logo?

    What would be especially trick is if that tube around the LCD was a glowing neon tube that glows a bright, healthy blueberry color!

    Time to think OUTSIDE THE BOX Taco.

  • by Hugh. G. Rection

    Investigative Reporter

    In what came as a complete surprise and shocked many citizens, some asshole just walked up and decked me. Ow.

    Seriously, guys, keep up the funny headlines...it might make people realize that, hey, it's not a serious newssite =)

    And yeah, you're right; the new VAIO looks like shit...erm, barf.

  • Barf was the amusing sidekick in Spaceballs, played by John Candy. That you don't know this is inexcusable ;)
  • Sorry you had so much trouble with their computers.

    If I ever get some money, I was hoping to consider a VIAO of some type, I never buy without proper research though, so I should be able to uncover any issues in whatever model I pick. I've gotten into the habit of checking the user experiences of any particular model before I buy, even if I thought the brand was good or had good experiences with similar models.

    I used to be skeptical about the quality of Sony's consumer electronics, but they've won me over a few times. I have dropped one of their MiniDisc players four feet onto concrete and it played just fine, although it did get a cosmetic scratch on the case.

    The service mode adjustments on their WEGA (and some other) Sony TVs are a hacker's dream come true. You can fix nearly any dang distortion and bring the TV to just about perfect alignment, unlike.... well, maybe anyone else in the price or size range. A lot more adjustability than 99% of the computer monitors out there, that's for sure. It costs more but it's like a few cents a day cost of operation over the entire expected life, might as well spend a little extra. The flat-flat-flat tube is just gorgeous too.
  • Clearly Sony is taking advantage of the as-yet untapped goths-who-want-an-iBook-but-hate-the-colors demographic.

    I'm not buying a laptop until they make one that looks like a Speak 'N Spell.
  • Overall, I think it looks interesting, which is a plus, but I'm not the type of person who puts a big Honda sticker on my back winshield, and I sure don't want a huge VAIO logo on my laptop
  • Other than the fact that it's a little bit shiny on the outside case, I'm not seeing any resemblance to the iBook. The main problem I have with the iBook is the odd shape, and this VAIO looks pretty rectangular.
    So why does it look like it's for schoolchildren? The silver piping around the edges? I'm really not seeing that much of an issue with it. Sure, the handle looks a little silly, but hell, what if it's useful? The VAIO logo is expected, it's on the current models too.
    As for the purple color... remember in the mid 1980s when purple and pink were "cool" colors? And this wasn't for girls, this was a male thing. This seems to have mysteriously disappeared around the turn of the 1990s. I remember seeing some poor kid being harassed about his "cool" 80s bicycle, while the other kids thought it looked like a girl's bike.

    Aesthetics be damned, if it's still small, and works well, good enough.
  • looks like it was designed by school children

    hmmm... if it was made of Lego you'd like it though?

    I like the way it looks in those images.

  • Maybe I'm an odd one out here, but I think those things look pretty cool. It looks quite rugged, complete with a big thick handle to whip it around with. That looks to me like an improvement to the very flimsy-seeming vaios I have seen before. The only thing that looks bad to me is that it appears to have a shiny coating that would probably scratch and dull very easily. However, I guess that is the price you pay for fashion...
  • Man. That's just wrong.

    Did gideon have Campbells Chunky Beef Stew before that keg-o-milwaukee's best?
  • Gotta to agree. I have a PowerBook. It is extremely functional and IMHO, very stylish in a professional sort-of-way. I like the bronze keyboard, the rounded edges and the glowing apple. Geez, I hope the Vaio letters don't light up like the glowing backlit apple.

    Speaking of Casio, did you see the little item on the bottom of the 1st link? A combination Casio mouse and label printer? I'm speechless.

  • First, why does everyone instantly assume that since it has a handle, it is an Apple nock-off? My 3 year old Panasonic CF-25 has a handle. And yes, you really CAN carry it by the handle. I've carried it and my CF-71 by the handle many times, and I never use a case. They've both been nocked off my desk, out of the car (a Jeep, onto the concrete floor of the parking garage... don't ask :), used in the rain, etc, and both are still in near perfect condition. After using both of these, I would never get a laptop _without_ a handle!
  • So, the handle is a good thing.

    No: Look at how it "fits". As soon as you plug something into the ports in the back you cannot open or close the lid, because the handle will be stopped by the cables. WTFWTT? The iBook handle, on the other hand, is placed in a less problematic spot.

  • Nope -- that was my first reaction as well. It took me a while to figure out that it wasn't a spaceball reference (at least i hope not, that movie deserves more respect).

    Spaceballs was the last funny Mel Brooks movie. I don't think he made anything funny since then. It's one of those movies that gets funnier every time you watch it.


  • Exactly...Glad to see I'm not the only one who thought... "like...barf?" Looks pretty snazzy to me... and hey how about we all save our opinions until we see it in real life. sheesh.
  • What I want to know is....

    How much of the hardware will be supported under:

    Linux / FreeBSD / NetBSD / Solaris X86 / BEOS (pick one)

    One the whole color scheme, maybe it is so that Sony can market it as an "accessory" to the new AIBO units????

    "Fortune, Fame, Mirror Vain, Gone Insane..... But The Memory Remains...
  • I said I was new to psoting / replying. not new to Slashdot. Learn to read ya dern fool idjit.

    "Fortune, Fame, Mirror Vain, Gone Insane..... But The Memory Remains...
  • Sometimes, I'm new to spelling as well.... depending on how early in the day it is.... Sorry for the typo.

    "Fortune, Fame, Mirror Vain, Gone Insane..... But The Memory Remains...
  • I'm new to posting on slashdot, and didn't know how to post, I just knew how to reply to existing posts. Sorry.

    "Fortune, Fame, Mirror Vain, Gone Insane..... But The Memory Remains...
  • The question is, how much of the hardware will be supported under Linux / FreeBSD / Beos / Etc...?

    "Fortune, Fame, Mirror Vain, Gone Insane..... But The Memory Remains...
  • Looks UUUUgly! it actualy looks like a cross between an ibook and a samsonite suitcase. I'd pay money to see an Ape Jump up and down on it.
  • My PCG-F580K can do this while driving the 15" active matrix display at full brightness. I admit that I clock down to 500Mhz from 650, but it does it, and it does it well. I love the stares I get on Airplanes when I'm watching movies on it. I do have two batteries, however.

    Mike Hollinger
  • Those keys, they look like TRS-80 Coco chicklets!
  • It looks fine.

    __________________________________________________ ___

  • I have had sony laptops for the past couple of years. My opinion has been that they are usually visually appealing, and have decent specifications. The problem is that they treat service of their devices the same as they would treat a television, or toaster oven. Their response to service calls is basically to run the recovery disk which overwrites the entire machine. Not to say that i'm the most proficient microsoft operating system user, but i can fix most problems when they arrise.
  • I bet it works like...a laptop computer. Look, the specs on laptops are getting to the point where they're like the specs on toasters. Two slot, or four slot? SVGA or XGA? Oven or slice? DVD or CD?

    There's just not enough difference between lines of laptops to have the specs be tremendously interesting. It'll have a pretty fast processor, and a pretty big disk, and a fair chunk of RAM, and it'll probably run whatever OS you want it to.

    Aesthetics are important. I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks so. Why SHOULDN'T its looks soothe my soul? I smile every time I look at my Miata. Why shouldn't the same be true of my computer? If YOU want appliances, not art, that's fine. Just don't expect everybody to share your sensibilities or priorities.
  • That's crap. Judging PEOPLE based ONLY on their looks is a bad idea. Judging PRODUCTS based PARTLY on their looks is totally valid. I'd rather buy something that pleases my eye than something that does not, assuming functionality is similar.

    That's to say, I'd take an Audi TT over a VW Golf, even though the mechanicals are almost the same.
  • I guess everybody's different, but the biggest reason I bought a VAIO was that it was the only ultralight that didn't have a fscking trackpoint! Those things make my index finger go to sleep.

    I'll second what some other folks have said about the construction of the Sony laptops, though. I live in mortal fear of dropping the thing, despite the magnesium case. The battery connection in particular is very weak. The only explanation I have is that it was designed after the consumption of way too much sake.

    I wonder if duct tape matches the color scheme. That would would make sure the battery stays in place!

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wagn'nagl dominos.

  • Dell Inspiron 3800 laptop. Weird styling, got a shiny metal 1.5" square 'Dell' nameplate recessed into the top... all plastic outside, grey mostly but the inside's this weird blue color.

    Anyway... I trip over the power cable, which drops it, open and running, 3 feet onto a concrete floor. Only damage is a broken-off plug on the power cord which to my surprise the warranty covered! =]
  • looking at slashdot, i'm fairly sure that cmdrTaco isn't a qualified design critic. the sony design looks cool as a piece of product design, why such harsh words? legos look like
    they were designed by three year olds, too, but that's part of their beauty. simplicity, man -- technology doesn't all have to look like some bad sci-fi painting.
  • Film at 11.

    Apple also invented oxygen, arable land, and perfected the practice of rubbing sticks together to produce "fire".

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • And I believe the name of that font is "money shot".
  • Maybe you missed the new Claudia Schiffer Palm Pilot Vx [claudiaschiffer.com] which includes a metallic blue case and all her favorite add-ons?
  • I'm not so sure I'm concerned by the VAIO lettering - personally, I think the design of this laptop will warrant after-market (3rd party) accessories, such as a 'westsuit' like covering - so you can wrap the laptop up in a nice outer protective sleeve, condom-like, and still carry it around - so most likely the VAIO effect will be lessened.

    Wrap one of these up in one of those wetsuit cover things, maybe use some nice rubber/latex design, and I'll make it my next laptop, for sure.
  • If your barf looks like that, I don't want to know what you've been eating :)

    Seriously, it is kind of a weird design choice. The reason it comes off like that is largely the rounded edges (screen edges, logo), high contrast, and the bordering effect of the screen edging/handle. Following the square outline of the laptop only rounding it and adding a crude handle shape essentially makes it look like the laptop's shape is defined by some large child's 3D crayon :) you could define the shape and essence of the design very easily with a large crayon by drawing the shape of that outline/handle, and adding the logo. This is the technical background for why you think it looks like barf :)

    It _would_ make a killer design for a child's laptop. Pity they don't have the disposable income for it ;) that'll teach you to fall in love with a corporation's product! ;)

  • Because almost EVERYTHING here is opinion. The editors have opinions. They're going to post about them. This never promised to be an unbiased news source.

    Carpe DM, Seize the Dungeon Master.
  • Then I could plonk all stories about all their keen products I won't be buying, as I don't wish to support them or the MPAA/RIAA (Sony being a key member of both) or their SDMI-enabled/freedom-disabled MemoryStick shite they keep foisting

  • ...Dad used to say, "Opinions are like @$$holes; they all stink." :o)I think it looks pretty cool -- I wouldn't mind pulling something like that out of my ditty bag when I'm at a client site. After the usual impossible-to-distinguish-among anonymous black monoliths, what's wrong with Sony deciding to put on a little style?But then, hey, my four-year-old and I liked Jar Jar Binks, and I'm envious of a friend's iBook. Maybe Mrs. alumshubby is right: My taste is all in my mouth.
  • Tell me what you REALLY think, okay Taco?

  • You remember the "I checked my
    notebook!" Toshiba commercials?

    No, I do not remember. Can you explain?
  • Did anyone happen to catch John C. Dvorak's comments on the iBook and the minicontroversy that followed? The original article is at http://www.zdne t.c om/zdnn/stories/comment/0,5859,2302687,00.html [zdnet.com] Do a google search on "john c dvorak" and "makeup case" to find some of the responses.

    Say what you like about Dvorak, but I like reading him. He's wrong most of the time, and he sometimes pisses me off, but I like reading people that have something to say, know how to say it, and don't pull any punches.

    He called the iBook a "girly machine", said that it looked like a "makeup case" and that no self-respecting man would carry one. Personally, I think the iBook looks more like a kid's toy -- where Dvorak thought it needed Barbie stickers, I think it would be better decorated with Big Bird and Cookie Monster.

    But what about the new Vaio? The word that comes to mind is not "barf", but "blech." At least barf has texture. These boxes are void of personality. At least the iBooks have personality, albeit juvenile.

    I wonder what Dvorak would say about the new Vaio; he'd probably say it looks like barf... but he'd take two pages to say it.

  • There's no way I'm walking into work with something that looks like a big plastic toy. My schoolbag had PVC piping that looked like this!

    It's a shame, I was hoping the pickup some sort of Crusoe-based Sony tablet in a year or so, but I doubt this awful design will have fallen out the bottom of the system by then. I now have to hope Casio do something with their tablets...

  • I can't speak for anyone else, but I think they look snazzy.

    I may purchase one; especially if it's got a Transmeta processor.

  • I've heard of Bart, but not Barf.... D.
  • I'll second this. We've been buying Winbooks now for about two years. They're very low-tech as far as laptops go, but they're also dirt cheap, commodity-component machines that are easy to setup and well supported.

    We had a couple of l^Husers that demanded something lighter, smaller and more prestigious looking (focus on the last qualification) and we got a couple of Vaios. I ran into a one of them about two months ago and it looked like it had been through a plane wreck -- all the hinged doors were either missing or about to become missing and the case was cracked. And this was the machine that was given to a 55+ year old woman with a heart condition on "doctors orders" because she couldn't carry a standard laptop (which weighed about the same once you tacked on all the Vaios accessories for equivilent functionality). The machine still worked, but even the oldest Winbooks our help desk checks out overnight don't look like this.

  • I certainly hope that Sony isn't moving their entire line to the silver cases or black cases. I _like_ the subtle violet in my VAIO. It's a tremendously elegant choice. Not only that, but the machine is quite well engineered. Also, the keyboard colors in the new box are, well, not a good color. I, for one, surf while eating lunch (wireless card). I know for a fact that I build up a bit of grime on the keyquad, but I can't see it b/c of the dark keys. Also, did they mention the size of that thing? I'll be willing to bet that this is going to be some sort of mid-priced (low priced for Sony) iBook Competition. I own an iBook as well, and, well, the handle is useful, but it looks like you're carrying around a large lunchbox, and this one is no different.

    Finally, I'll bet that finish scratches and tarnishes easily. Who puts a gloss on a machine that's supposed to travel? I understand doing something like that on the inner casing, but not on the outside!

    Sony, please don't let me be right!

    P.S. If there is a Sony tech reading this, add 3D to the computers, dammit! What's the use of my $3700 F580K if you can't play OpenGL games, or use OpenGL apps? I love the machine except for that oversight on your part.

    Mike Hollinger
  • I hate SONY laptops. We bought a few when the CEP fell in love with the tiny vaio. He won't fall in love with this. It does not look slick, or pretty, or corporate. It looks like a toy. That desigh might make a nice case for your sex toy, but that design does not belong in the corporate world.

    SONY service bites. Ten day turn around is the minimum. I have had several nasty problems that meant the laptops spending most of their time in the shop. The warranty is 1 year, and is not extendable.

    I worked with NEC and now Dell laptops. Those have great service, longer warranties that are extendable for a reasonable price and they don't spend as much time in te shop. I find the people at NEC and Dell are much easier to deal with than those at sony.
  • What happened to the cool metal casing? This is totally shitty. Guess I'll be buying a toshiba or something else with a magnesium case. Too bad because we've been buying lots of Sony's for our employees because they look great and perform great. I'm sure they still perform OK, but would you want you sales people or representatives of your company walking around with something that looks like a toy? Not me.

    Dell's latitude LS's are cool, except they only have an 800x600 screen. I had one before my VAIO and the screen totally sucked. And why can't they make a laptop with the trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard? Touchpads suck. I'm going to start my own company and modify current laptops by putting custom titanium cases on them, adding a trackpoint, and removing replacing windows with Linux. I'll make a fortune.

  • Are you serious? I don't mean to judge but I've always thought the VAIO line was the sexiest piece of hardware available. This new version looks like... well... a standard black brick laptop with some plastic dodads on it. I'm very disapointed and am not impressed.


  • I'm pretty sure that series of ads was Canadian.

    At an airport check-in counter a businessman absent-mindedly allows his bare laptop to be "checked" as luggage... he spends some time in a panic about its fate... and then it turns up unscathed, due to its rugged Toshiba construction.

    Fairly entertaining.

    In another one, a cab drives away with the businessman's laptop perched percariously on its roof.

    As for the design - geez, could that VAIO logo be any bigger?

  • by xtal ( 49134 )

    One word: YUCK

    I have a real old P233 Sony 505 that I love.. it's doing to be due for replacement in a couple months, and I was really thinking about one of the new vaio's when they have the crusoe chip (battery life in linux stinks). But oh no! These things look aweful!

    My current notebook is the only piece of computer gadgetry I've had WOMEN come up to me and say how cool it was. Let alone everyone else. I just hope that they don't make this horrible mistake with the C1 series that I'm interested in.. *cringe*

    Sony! No! Say it ain't so.. WHITE keys? Yuck.

  • It's missing the Hello Kitty on the center of it!
  • No no no no, try these:

    Not quite as much fun, but then not trickery from Photoshop either -- I took them at a Man or Astroman [slab.org] show last year... :)

  • as for not letting your clients carry a laptop without a case, well.... what are you, their mother? Why do you care?

    No. Even worse - I am their tech director, and as such I am responsible for making sure all their computers work. So I care if a laptop falls. Becuase it will probably be damaged, and a damaged laptop is a bitch to fix.

  • Look at that handle. It's an iBook in disguise.

    I can see a brand new Sony press release now...

    TOKYO, JP:Our new VAIO, capitalizing on the trends that Apple has set with regards to style in the consumer computing space. We have reviewed the market data, and have determined that America's consumers are sufficiently brand-obsessed that we can get away with our bold display of our 'VAIO' logo on our latest laptop. Along with popular brands Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and copyleft.net, we will cram our brand down the throat of every man, woman, and child.

    Disclaimer: I love macs, I love vaios (purple ones), and I own some aapl. so there.
  • ... and the vaio's default bios password is 12345678 ?

  • Why?

    This is not Cnet. This is Slashdot. Biased headlines are part of what make Slashdot what it is: CT&Crew posting about what they're interested in.

    Nobody is making you "swallow CmdrTaco's opinion", unless you have no ability to think for yourself.

    Quite obviously, he thinks it looks like barf. I disagree, I think it looks more like cow dung. But since he's the one who gets to post the news, the headline gets to say it looks like barf.

    If you don't like it, you could always go read Cnet instead. Many of us like the personal touch.
  • by jidar ( 83795 )
    Give me whatever works best. I don't feel comfortable buying a computer that looks like it was designed for.. err looks. The reason is probably superficial to quite a few. You see, somewhere at some point part of the cash I'm spending went to fund the looks of that machine. I mean it must have cost a little more to design a system that looks cool. Thats nice for some people I suppose, but I want every last red cent that I spend to go towards one thing; performance.

  • Design is obviously a matter of taste.

    I personally happen to think that Sony has damn near some of the best industrial design in the world. From what little I can see of these things, I do think they look nice (knowing Sony, they will probably also work and feel nice).

    On the other hand, slashdot has (IMO) some of the worst web site design (aesthetics-wise) of the most popular sites on the web. WTF kind of news story is this?
  • Okay, its NOT a sexy shade of some bizarre colour that eases your senses. Who gives a rat's ass? How much? How fast? Can it run whatever OS I want to put on it? What can I plug into it...

    Maybe how it works might be, oh I don't know, just a bit important rather than whether its looks soothe your soul...
    -- The Hollow Man

  • you are a nerd and/or you are a geek.

    above all else, you should know not to judge based on looks.
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • Okay.. I might just be old fashioned.. BUT..

    I'm of the impression that if i pay a large amount of money for an item..

    it should look/feel as expensive as it really is..

    I assume these will be comparable to other laptop prices..
    1500-5000 or so.. If thats how much these cost, then they should :

    A. Look like they cost 1500-5000 USD.. Not like fisher price laptops
    B. Feel like they cost 1500-5000 USD.. (be it solidity of construction, or whatnot)
    The quote that sums this idealogy up is a line from Jurassic park :

    "Is it heavy?"


    "Well then it must be expensive.. Put it down"

    I'm not asking for a heavy laptop, but i at least want a product that looks to be worth the amount of money paid for it.. heh

    But it could be worse.. It could end up looking like an iBook.. Aka the toilet seat.
  • I think barf is a little extreme.....if you look at it while you are drunk, 100 yards away and squinting at an angle, it doesn't really look like barf...then it looks more like dog feces.

    I always wanted a viao...but these things are super ugly.

  • Sounds right to me, underpowered plant in a nice looking shell. Just like a slant-6 Challenger. ;) Me, I want the computer equivelent of a 426 Hemi... or even an LA series like the 340.

    Woah, dude. The problem was never the Slant-6's performance. The problem was that every car that got a Slant-6 was seen as being an "economy" car, and therefore got a really tall differential gear. As a result, the cars got great gas mileage, but driving them was like trying to start a ten-speed bicycle out in 7th gear.

    Out of the box, a Slant-6 with a good rear gear can easily move an E-body (Challenger/'Cuda) down the quarter mile in the 16.5 second range. Not bad at all, especially when you consider that's done with a 3.7L engine that gets 25MPG with the pedal down and is renouned for lasting 300,000 miles without any major attention.

    Sure, it's not as fast as a Hemi or even a 340. It has lots of other cool things going for it. But, it's still far from underpowered. Underpowered is a 4-cylinder 1.5L Japanese mushbox like a Honda Civic - buzzy, noisy and whiny, giving the illusion of speed but still scoring no more than about 18-19 seconds on the 1/4 mile.

    Actually, being an RX-7 nut, I want the computer equivelent of the Bi-turbo Mazda 20b triple rotary... the RISC chip of internal combustion.

    Your RX-7 is a fly caught in my 400's air cleaner.

  • Besides an unfortunate name, I never understood why wankel engines didn't catch on. Few moving parts, simple design... beautiful. Ideas?

    Completely off-topic, but yeah.

    The Wankel is a beautiful engine, I agree. It's a great idea. But, like communism, it's a great idea that cannot possibly work.

    In its early adoption with the NSU Rotaries and some of the early Mazdas (and, while I really don't like Japanese cars, I really respect Mazda for pressing on with the rotary engine), they were frought with low compression and sealing problems. Like a piston engine, they need to create compression before firing the fuel/air mixture.

    Unlike a piston engine, where the sealing is fairly easy (iron piston rings), Wankels had huge wear problems of the early seals. This reduced compression, and eventually caused many of the same problems as a worn-out conventional engine.

    Early owners of Mazda rotaries (especially the ?1969? ?1970? Mazda RX-1 sedan) were having to rebuild their motors at less than 10,000 mile intervals. Mazda's ill-fated line of rotary-powered pickup trucks was even worse; the stress of a highly-loaded pickup truck was more than they could handle. Many of these vehicles in collector hands now have survived only because someone figured out a way of bolting a conventional engine into them.

    By the late 1970s, Mazda had pressed on and worked hard, and their sole-surviving rotary, the RX-7 sports coupe, was an excellent car mechanically. This got to survive for a while, but ever-increasing emissions standards (tough to pass with a rotary) eventually killed it in 1993 or thereabouts.

    It's sad, because when technology and corner-seals had finally caught up with the overall concept of the engine, it was no longer practical; refinement of the piston engine made it pass emissions laws that a rotary simply can't do.

    Rotaries have a hard time getting as much power out of a drop of fuel as a conventional engine does. The reason is that it's pretty easy to increase the compression ratio of a piston engine - interference valves, domed pistons, less piston-to-head clearance. Increasing the compression of a rotary is tougher - dome the rotor outwards a little bit, but too much and it will hit the outer chamber as it revolves. You can't get a compression ratio of more than about 8.5:1 out of them for that reason, without having to resort to complex and expensive turbos and superchargers (which defeat the purpose of the lightweight rotary). Even if the seals work, low compression = low combustion efficiency = nasty crap in the air and poor fuel bills.

    Like communism, a good idea, but that never was (and seemingly never will be) practical.

    ABC News, of all people, has a really cool story on this [go.com], which touches on a few of the points, but has several *wrong* things in it. For one thing, the Pacer was American Motors' (AMC, now part of DaimlerChrysler) car. The AMC Pacer was supposed to have a rotary, according to lore. The GM "Pacer" was an early proposed name for the new 1976 Chevette. Then, it turned out that AMC brought out a car with the name, and the Chevette name was chosen for GM's new "world-car". The Chevette was *never* to have a rotary; instead, it has an excellent German-designed and American-built 4-cylinder conventional engine.

    So many great ideas, so many shattered dreams. Automotive engineering is fraught with as many failed design ideas as the road to the information superhighway has been with TRS-80s and TI-99/4As and Amigas. A good idea and good engineering doesn't necessarily mean that something won't screw you over and ruin your great idea. <sigh>

  • Jesus, it's guys like you that shouldn't even get close to a notebook. Using 1500 sand paper to mask your incompetence in dealing with a laptop? You've got to be kidding me. If that would have been my notebook I would have kicked your ass all over the friggin store.

    <grin> My boss told me to do it. I was working at a shitty little computer store with no tools. I was the only one on staff who knew that you don't carry a bare motherboard across a carpeted repair shop on a dry winter's day. And the boss was screaming at me that I couldn't spend more than an hour to do it. (Hell, the little plastic tangs that hold it together can take at least 1/2 hour on some models, and that's when you can see where the tangs are!)

    I did what I could do. And, man, I got it looking good again but even so, you should've seen how happy the owner was just to see the computer boot up again.

    On the other hand, I'm also *extremely* glad that I don't work in computer retail anymore. Ugh.

    BTW, wet 1500 grit sandpaper is great for smoothing a plastic case back down if you've pursed it at all. I find it hard to believe that you're so competent and co-ordinated that you've never had to resort to that.

  • Fairly correct. Mazda has actually never stopped producing rotaries. The RX-7 was phased out in America in '96 but was still produced until last year for the asian market, and the Cosmo (sedan available with a triple rotary 20b) is also extant.

    Oh, that's cool. But it's sad that they're no longer a part of the biggest automotive market in the world. The engine is innovative, even though it was originally imperfect and has now suffered the scourge of emissions controls.

    Mazda has been showing it's latest version of the 13b dual rotary lately. The 'Reinesis' plant has 280 HP naturaly aspirated, gets 30+ MPG (stunning for a rotary of that power), can pass low emission standards, and has much improved apex seals.

    The seals haven't been an issue since the early 1980s. But I'm really curious as to how they'd have coped with the inherently limited compression ratio of a rotary, as well as a combustion chamber with way too much surface area and a shape that is completely counter-productive from a flame-front (and therefore a volumetric efficiency) standpoint.

    I mean, let's face it, even a 1986 Hyundai Excel has a better (hemispherical) combustion chamber, capable of better flame travel and with less cold quench area to drive up emissions.

    Don't misunderstand me; I love the rotary, and I've enjoyed driving them, and while I've never worked on one, I think it would be fascinating. But I'm amazed at your news that they can be made more conformant with today's tough emissions laws.

    Mazda is supposedly going to put it in the new RX-7, the new MX-6, and possibly an MX-5 (Miata) variant.

    That would be very cool. I'm not a fan of Japanese cars on the whole - I'm more a fan of the traditional American car philosophy of big engine, full-frame, rear-wheel-drive design. There's no question that it makes a car easier to service and last longer. But, again, I applaud and even *like* Mazda for their rotaries. Unlike most Japanese manufacturers (ie. Honda, Toyota), they're actually highly innovative. (And don't get onto me about Honda's CVCC or V-TEC; they're not as innovative as Honda fans like to think they are.)

    As for american wankels, there was also an Astrovette (rear-engined prototype corvette from the early 70s) that sported a quad rotary. Serious power in a quad, Mazda has won the 24 hours of LeMans with quad-rotary cars. An additional note about LeMans is that Mazda has the highest finishing percentage of any manufacturer who has entered more than one race, all with wankels.

    Yeah, Mazda really did have the kinks worked out of the motor.

    Along the lines of the Astrovette, the original Valiant concept car back in the late 1950s was to be rear-engined (like a Corvair, which Chrysler found out about before the Corvair hit the showrooms) and was to use a gas turbine engine, like the later semi-prototype Chrysler Turbine cars used. While that would have been cool, it too would have been impractical.

    My mechanic just got one of those rotary trucks which has survived 25 years with it's weird 1.3 litre. You are right that it sucks with big loads, whatever a wankel is it's not a high torque at low revs engine.

    No, it's not. <grin> But with suitable gearing, that wouldn't be a problem. The issue with those early rotaries, especially in a truck, is that people tend to tow heavy loads and stuff. A surprising number of people lug the engine (drive in too high a gear for a given speed). In a piston engine, the detonation as a result makes a loud knocking sound, eventually hurting valves, connecting rod bearings and cylinder head gaskets. It takes a *lot* of abuse to put a hole through a piston. However, in the same situation with a rotary, especially an early one, it doesn't take much lugging to lose all your compression by blowing out an (early and fragile) apex or side seal.

    "...the RX-7 sports coupe, was an excellent car mechanically." Yup, but don't get me started on their electrical system. Damned cold solders...

    <grin> Never been there. Around here, as is typical with any Japanese car, the lightweight and irresponsibly thin body sheetmetal is rotted off by winter driving before anything else really starts to fail.

  • I think they look like non-candy colored ripoffs of the iBook design. Which is a good thing. They have a handle. They are not translucent-- although they could do without the eyesore grey accents and could be matte instead of glossy. My biggest beef is with the lame trackpad. I hate those. It is worse than a mouse in that it requires the fingers to leave the keyboard AND is extremely sensitive to things like double contact and accidental clicks.
  • Traditionally, it's my understanding that "news" (even news for nerds) is pretty much unbiased. Of course, there's state-run media, or corporate media which is biased, but generally when Joe Schmoe reporter tells the world about something, it's pretty much on the level.

    So, how 'bout it Taco? Care to leave the opinions to the posters instead? I personally *like* the new look... it's dramatic. Cheesy? Sure - but *I* for one like it.

    NOW - how's about we get a Beowul**BLAM!** thud

  • (so i haven't seen the pictures yet)

    but it's not surprising...

    when most of us (geeks) buy sytems, we look for power and stability. However, most of the rest of society wants a computer, and has no clue about specifications...so if they have to decide on a choice of various computers, they buy the one that LOOKS cool...which is why iMacs went big (all the dumb people of society who want a *CUTE* 'puter)

    there's another company doing the same thing (Qrium [qrium.com] - check out the link) they're also making computers that *LOOK COOL* in order to grab the market from the majority of society (chances are that these'll sell better because the run Windoze)...Sony is probably trying to get the amrket from the businesspeople who need laptops but don't really know what kind (buy something *CUTE*)

    anyway, it's not really a surprise: once something hits mainstream, you sell it for its visible qualities, not specs (ie: most people would buy a car that looks nice over a car that looked worse but ran a little better)
  • like it should say "My First Sony" on the case.
  • "...looks like it was designed by school children."

    No, the iMac looks like it was designed by school children. The Vaio looks like it was designed for school children. Print out the picture and take it to the "My First Laptop" section of Toys R Us and you'll see what I mean.
    An abstained vote is a vote for Bush and Gore.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:57PM (#710182) Homepage Journal
    My First Laptop.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • by torpor ( 458 ) <<ibisum> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @03:17PM (#710183) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at the "material" closeup shots on the Sony site, and I think you'll find it looks really nice.

    Having been a loyal Sony user for a few years (my current machine is an XG9) I'm quite intrigued by this new design. I wonder if it's a bit more rugged - that "PVC"ish outline seems to imply a bit more strength to me, which is a good thing. I've dropped my XG9 twice, and it's suffered minor damage as a result - if that rollbar on the new Sony will prevent that sort of damage, I'm all for it.

    I like the inclusion of the handle, that's pretty slick - dunno why people say "its an iBook ripoff" just because of the handle. Laptops have had handles since before Apple even had a laptop design division - my old Grid machine had a great carrying system.

    Generally, I think this new design is refreshing. The clean lines of the keys are really sexy - implies "Go"-style imagery, those keys, something I'd be happy to own. If the machine itself is fast, affordable, and available in the US, I may just upgrade.

    Though, I have to say, I hope Sony fix their damned DVD drive manufacturing problems... this one on my XG9 just failed again.
  • by mattdm ( 1931 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @05:47PM (#710184) Homepage
    Hmm. I'm trying to remember the last time I dropped something I was carrying by its handle, and really, I can't. So I gotta say, it sounds like a fine idea to me.


  • by Kaufmann ( 16976 ) <rnedal@nOSPAm.olimpo.com.br> on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:49PM (#710185) Homepage
    I hope I wasn't the only one who got the Spaceballs reference. Then again, maybe there was no Spaceballs reference, and I'm reading too much into the "Barf" part. And, if it was intended, the "candy-coating" pun was disgraceful... respect the memory of poor ol' John, will ya?

    Ah, Spaceballs... what a great movie.

  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @03:39PM (#710186) Homepage
    Keep in mind this product is designed for the Japanese market. Their aesthetic values often don't coincide with European or North American aesthetics (for example, authentic 70's office furniture is all the rage over there now).

    Sure we can call it ugly and whatnot, but I wouldn't be so quick to judge that they're going in a wrong direction, given the traget market...

    Kevin Fox
  • by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @07:04PM (#710187)
    Remember when the iMacs came out and all the /. users complained about how people should chose computers based on their use -- looks were only secondary? Notice how the industry has changed so that even the hardware-loving geeks have put appearance really high on the list of "important things" for electronic equipment. Yeah, sleek stereos have always been the rage, but every thread I've read so far related to this story isn't "What kind of processor will it have?" or "Do you think it'll come with dvd and a twelve hour battery life?" but more like "these things look like Dark Jedi iBooks!" or "It reminds me of something Get Smart would use! They're horrid!"

    Is this a Good Thing, a Bad Thing, or just an Interesting Thing?

  • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:55PM (#710188) Homepage Journal
    And this certainly isn't it [tig.com.au].
  • by G-Man ( 79561 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @06:01PM (#710189)
    What were they thinking?

    Isn't it obvious? These are chew toys for the new AIBO [slashdot.org]. The handle is just so you don't get slobber on you when you pick it up.

  • by kootch ( 81702 ) on Friday October 13, 2000 @03:43AM (#710190) Homepage
    My boss once got pissed when his powerbook froze. He immediately picked up the PowerBook, closed the top, and threw the powerbook across the room like a frisbee into the wall. The wall had a huge hole in it, and for a time, the computer wouldn't boot. I asked him if I could have it since it didn't work... 2 days later I had it up and running just fine.

    Only wrong with it was that it has a little problem with the power intake... the ac adapter doesn't always connect well, part of the case is loose in the back, and I'm not sure if this is a g3 powerbook problem, but the bottom gets EXTREMELY hot... maybe he killed a fan or something.

    Anyway, the machine was a G3 Powerbook, but not one of the new slim ones...

    Thrown across the room frisbee style into a wall, and it still works just fine. :)
  • by mr_gerbik ( 122036 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:52PM (#710191)
    Could it be true? Sony mass marketing the evil step-brother of Apple's iBook? This could mean the end of it all...

  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @03:36PM (#710192) Homepage

    I dropped my IBM thinkpad from a height of 3 feet onto concrete. It powered up without a problem.

    That's really cool!

    When I worked for Dominion Business Machines (Toronto, now defunct), I wrote off dozens of notebooks that had had their motherboards cracked with less abuse. (Ever tried to repair a mult-layer PC board? Don't bother.)

    I am going to be hardpressed to ever purchase a laptop from anyone else.

    Believe it or not, I've found Compaq, Toshiba and Acer (!) notebooks to be very durable, too. Though the Toshiba that the guy checked was a goner. The baggage carrousel at the airport is about the most gentle thing it would have experienced; now I do IT at a big airport, and it's scary what happens to your bags during the sorting.

    Given all of my experiences with Sony consumer electronics, I must say I would NEVER buy anything, especially a laptop, from them, regardless of how cool it looked.

    Sony's quality control has definately gone downhill. It used to be that their TV sets could be guaranteed to go 20+ years. I used to work in a TV station as a bench tech (fixing stuff). We used to *try* to kill the old (1970s) Sony KV-1710 TV sets all over the station, but we couldn't. But the newer stuff is starting to die already. Granted, a TV station is a pretty extreme place to put a TV set - it's on at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and being beaten around in mobile trucks and stuff. But if it survives there, it should last almost forever in the home.

    Okay, maybe it's not quality control. The solder on the boards is still excellent (unlike Taiwanese/Korean crap, Daytek/Daewoo comes to mind first); but the boards aren't secured as well within the chassis and things tend to break free of their solder (flybacks especially). Cheap design; not enough reinforcement. I hate stuff like that. I'd pay $0.50 more for a couple of screws and buttresses to hold the board in place a little better.

    Sony's cheap consumer stuff has been just reprehensible lately. But their professional line Betacam and other high-end stuff still seemed to be good, last time I touched a soldering iron to one of them (1996).

  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @03:03PM (#710193) Homepage

    b) It's got a handle! You can't carry a computer like that by it's handle. It will get scratched, it is not protected, and if you drop it, it is lost! I do not let anyone of my clients carry a computer more than two feet with out putting it in a case. Believe me, you do not want to see what a laptop looks like after a two foot drop to a floor. Yes, even a carpeted floor! A handle is cute, but without a case, it is asking for trouble!

    Heheheh... I used to work for a little computer store, and we once had a guy come in with a notebook computer. You remember the "I checked my notebook!" Toshiba commercials? Well, he did that.

    I was the lucky guy who got to replace the display in that thing. Fun, wow. There's no way you can open up a notebook computer without leaving little pry-marks around all the clips that hold it together. Even though I wet-sanded the case with 1500 grit afterwards, it still looked like crap.

    The broken display, recently back-lit with some white LEDs, hangs on the wall in my office, looking like a glow-in-the-dark piece of fractal art.

    I like things that are built tough, forgiving of owner stupidity and indifference. That Toshiba wasn't it, though it was a rather extreme test.

    Remember the AST pen notebook computers? They were really cool, with a magnesium case and a handwriting recognition system. They were about as close to the computer equivalent to the Chrysler Slant-6 as anything I've ever seen. Too bad that they only had 386SX processors.

  • by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:52PM (#710194) Homepage
    Guess you're just turning old.

    Next thing you know you'll be complaining about the music those young people like to listen to.

    Not as cool as the fingerphone, but the new VAIO is up there. I wouldn't buy one, but it's as good a design as the prior one.

  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @06:25PM (#710195)
    I don't understand why so many people think these
    things are all that "ugly."

    Is it the white keyboard? Or the tubular frame
    around the monitor? Or the trademark? Sounds to
    me like Taco said it's ugly and people seem to
    agree. The handle looks interesting, doubly so
    if it happens to be where the aux battery is.
    The keyboard may take some getting used to, and it
    may be wonderful, who knows? Also, the keyboard in the unit for the US market could very well be
    different from the Japanese prototype you're seeing in the photos.

    I don't understand why people are saying these things are "ugly" as compared to the average thinkpad or powerbook. If the spec's and compatability are like they should be for a vaio,
    and if it's really lightweight, then fabulous.

    I want to know two things about it:

    1. Can it, on the standard battery charge, play
    240 minutes of DVD with the volume turned up to say, 70%. Haven't seen a notebook yet that can
    do pull that off.

    2. What is the median S/N ratio for the analog audio input of the soundchip? (SP/DIF I/O would be nice too). I'd like to record live music, with minimal noise, thank you.

  • by Barbarian ( 9467 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @04:24PM (#710196)
    They could be purple and yellow. [slashdot.org]

  • by maw ( 25860 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:57PM (#710197) Journal
    When a new Vaio breaks, we can say "Out of order? Fuck! Even in the future nothing works!"
  • by r-jae ( 138803 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:51PM (#710198)
    I reckon it looks great. Congrats to Sony, it's a big improvement over the previous model.

    I just can't wait to see some really detailed specs.


    Daniel Zeaiter
    ICQ: 16889511

  • by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @03:32PM (#710199) Homepage
    Dear Hello Kitty Institute of Industrial Design,

    Please ignore the rude American post by Commander Taco. Our military people have a bad habit of offending people, and he seems to have forgotten that Sony is a Japanese company bent on world domination.

    Please also give my thanks to Pinky for his wondrous insight which caused him to contribute his artistic talent to the tooth paste accident which resulted in this cutting edge design.

    Also, enclosed please find my drawings for the new brain to put in George W. Bush - I'm afraid the last model we ordered, while it is very good at acting, sadly has major malfunctions in the computation department. Feel free to give it to Bill Gates for use in designing his next add-on product for the .Net initiative.

  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @05:23PM (#710200)
    Looks swell to me. Very 1982.

    As for losing their corporate market, I'm shocked to hear Sony ever had one. No real docking stations, crappy port replicators, structurally weak cases, little plastic doors that break off if you breathe on them, and hardware so fussy that the things lock up more than a Packard Bell.

    We bought a few a year ago. One by one, they've died, broken, or become nearly unbootable. They look slick. The light ones are certainly light and seemingly inexpensive. VAIOs have some nifty features (FireWire, f'rinstance), but they don't belong on an IT department's equipment list in my experience.

    If IBM made Thinkpads that looked like these new VAIOs, I'd be thrilled. Seen the new Thinkpads? There's design. Rigid construction and reinforced, rubberized hinges throughout, pass-through everything to the port replicator/dock, bright screens, and they're about as stable as a good desktop. Sure, they're black rectangles that look like every other Thinkpad of the last 5 years, but they paid attention to quality. They're also not cheap, but even if they cost twice as much as a VAIO, they're worth every penny.

    If you're in charge of your company/organization's purchasing and someone wants a VAIO, either tell them to buy it for themselves, or buy two so you can have a loaner on hand when the first one breaks.
  • by Barcode ( 61515 ) on Thursday October 12, 2000 @02:52PM (#710201)
    It looks like a black and white iBook! It's got a handle! What were they thinking?

    a) The Vaio's were and are really slick looking magnesium-encased computers. This black and white thing looks like the Panasonic Tough-book - a really blocky, non-slick looking box.

    b) It's got a handle! You can't carry a computer like that by it's handle. It will get scratched, it is not protected, and if you drop it, it is lost! I do not let anyone of my clients carry a computer more than two feet with out putting it in a case. Believe me, you do not want to see what a laptop looks like after a two foot drop to a floor. Yes, even a carpeted floor! A handle is cute, but without a case, it is asking for trouble!

    Sony, if you are listening, you are making a huge mistake!


"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"