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Manufacturer Sony
Retail availability 1997-present
(first launched in US)

VAIO P series (2009)

VAIO (play /ˈv./) is a sub-brand used for many of Sony‘s computer products. Originally an acronym of Video Audio Integrated Operation, this was amended to Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer in 2008 to celebrate the brand’s 10th anniversary. The branding was created by Timothy Hanley to distinguish items that integrate consumer audio and video with conventional computing products, such as the Sony VAIO W Series personal computer, which functioned as a regular computer and a miniature entertainment center. Although Sony made computers in the 1980’s exclusively for the local (Japan) market, the company withdrew from the computer business around the turn of the decade. Sony’s re-entry to the global computer market under the new VAIO brand, began in 1996 with the PCV series of desktops. The VAIO logo also represents the integration of analog and digital technology with the ‘VA’ representing an analog wave and the ‘IO’ representing a digital binary code.



[edit] Products

Sony has expanded its use of the VAIO brand, which can now be found on notebooks, subnotebooks, desktops and media centres. Network media solutions by Sony will also carry the VAIO brand.

VAIO notebooks are currently shipped with Microsoft Windows 7 Professional[citation needed] (Business line) or Windows 7 Home Premium, while high-end models sometimes come with Windows 7 Ultimate.

In mid-2005, all models stopped shipping with a Recovery CD, which was replaced by a hidden partition on the hard drive, accessible at boot via the BIOS or within Windows via a utility. Pressing [F10] at the VAIO logo during boot-up will cause the notebook to boot from the recovery partition; where the user has the choice of either running hardware diagnostics without affecting the installed system, or restoring (re-imaging) the hard drive to factory condition – an option that destroys all user installed applications and data). When first running a VAIO system out of the box, users are prompted to create a set of recovery DVDs, which will be required in case of hard disk failure and replacement with a new drive. These are not normally required if the system is restored from the hidden partition).

Also included as part of the out-of-box experience, are prompts to register at Club VAIO, an online community for VAIO owners and enthusiasts, which also provides automatic driver updates and technical support via email, along with exclusive desktop wallpapers and promotional offers. On recent models, the customer is also prompted to register the installed trial versions of Microsoft Office and the antivirus software (Norton Anti-Virus on older models, and McAfee Antivirus on newer ones) upon initial boot.

VAIO computers come with components from companies such as Intel processors, Seagate Technology, Hitachi, Fujitsu or Toshiba hard drives, Infineon RAM, Atheros and Intel wireless chipsets, Sony (usually made by Hitachi) or Matsushita optical drives, Intel, NVIDIA or ATI graphics processors and Sony speakers. Recent laptops have been shipped with Qimonda RAM, HP speakers with Realtek High Definition Audio Systems, and optional Dolby Sound Room technology. It has been confirmed that a touch-screen VAIO is planned for launch as well as support for PlayStation Network.

[edit] Technology

VAIO Z series (2008) Keyboard and switch buttons

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

The TX series, introduced in September 2005, was the first notebook to implement an LED back-lit screen, which provides lower power consumption and greater color reproduction. This technology has now been widely adopted by many other notebook manufacturers. The TX series was also the first to use a 16:9 aspect ratio screen with 1366×768 resolution.

The SZ series was the first to use switchable graphics – the motherboard contained an Intel GMCH (Graphics Memory Controller Hub) featuring its own in-built graphics controller (complete memory hub controller and graphics accelerator on the one die) and a separate NVIDIA graphics accelerator chipset directly interfaced with the GMCH. The GMCH could be used to reduce power consumption and extend battery life whereas the NVIDIA chipset would be used when greater graphics processing power was needed. A switch is used to toggle between the graphics options but required the user to preselect the mode to be used before the motherboard could initialize. The Z series has recently replaced the SZ series and does not require a restart of the system to change graphic modes on Windows Vista, which can be done “on the fly”. This feature has subsequently been used by other manufacturers, including Apple, Asus and Alienware.

The high-end AR Series VAIOs were the first to incorporate a Blu-ray Disc burner. This series was designed to be the epitome of high-definition products including a 1080p capable WUXGA (1920 × 1200 pixels) screen, HDMI output and the aforementioned Blu-ray burner. The AR series also includes an illuminated logo below the screen. Blu-ray/HDMI capable models have been the subject of intense promotion since mid-2007, selling with a variety of bundled Blu-ray Discs. The AR series was subsequently replaced by the AW series, which incorporates all of these features in a 18.4″ 16/9 display.

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

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

The VAIO line also features a series of desktop computers, which incorporate a motherboard and widescreen LCD monitor into a single unit, in a manner similar to the more recent models of Apple‘s iMac series. These are identified by VGC in the product code.

[edit] Bundled software

Sony has been criticized for loading its VAIO laptops with bloatware, or ineffective and unrequested software that supposedly allows the user to immediately use the laptop for multimedia purposes. Dell had been accused of the same practice, but after strong customer feedback agreed to offer “limited” pre-installed software on its machines.[2] Sony now offers a “Fresh start” option in some regions with several of their business models. With this option, the computer is shipped only with a basic Windows operating system and very little trial software already installed. The default webcam software in VAIO notebooks is ArcSoft WebCam Companion. It offers a set of special effects called Magic-i visual effects, through which users can enhance the images and videos taken through the webcam. It also features a face detection feature. Certain other Sony proprietary software such as Click to Disc Editor, VAIO Music Box, VAIO Movie Story, VAIO Media Plus are also included with recent models. Those shipped with ATI Radeon Video cards feature the Catalyst Control Centre, which enables the user to adjust the various video features such as brightness, contrast, resolution etc., and also enables connection to an external display.

[edit] Current models

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This section is outdated. Please update this section to reflect recent events or newly available information. Please see the talk page for more information. (January 2010)

[edit] Personal notebooks

All personal notebook models come with Windows 7 Home Premium installed. Unlike the business range, XP downgrade options are not available on all models.

  • F Series – released at CES 2011. 16.4″ High-end entertainment range. There are options for a Blu-ray disc reader or burner, and a Full HD widescreen (optional in countries outside the U.S.). This series currently has the 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 (Sandybridge) with an optional configuration of a 2D or 3D screen. This notebook is the largest laptop in Sony’s current range.
  • CB Series – A 15.5″ entry level laptop for home users. Successor to the NW and NS Series. Includes an HDMI port and a 16:9 display. The higher-end models include a Blu-ray Disc reader. New orange and green Colored Light version replaced the Sony VAIO NW series.
  • CA Series – A 14″ notebook that is customizable compared to the pre-built CB series. Successor to the NA series. Can be customized with up to a Core i5 2540M processor, 8 GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a Blu-ray burner, AMD graphics and 750 GB hard drive.
  • SA/SB/SC Series – A 13.3″ thin-and-light notebook. Contains the latest i5 or i7 Sandy Bridge processor and AMD GPU.
  • SE Series – A 15.5″ thin-and-light notebook. Similar in many ways to the SA/SB/SC 13.3″ notebooks.
  • Y Series – A 11.6″ AMD Fusion laptop, replaced the Sony VAIO X.

[edit] Past Laptops

  • EC Series – 17.3″ middle-end multimedia range, configurable with Core i7 and 1 TB Hard Drive. Replaced the AR series CW.
  • X Series – An 11.1″ ultraportable that used the Intel Atom Z550 and had 2 GB of DDR2 SDRAM @ 533 MHz. This was the first computer launched in the United States to use the 2 GHz Atom Z550 as well as one of the most expensive computers to use an Intel Atom processor, competing with Sony’s own VAIO P Series.
  • P Series – An 8″ ultraportable range that used an Intel Atom CPU Z520-Z550 dependant on model, and had 2 GB of DDR2 SDRAM @ 533 MHz and a 1600×768(UWXGA)
  • W Series – A 10.1″ sub-notebook (netbook), aimed at a young audience. It was available in white, brown or pink and used an Intel Atom Processor N450, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160 GB HDD, Windows XP Home or Windows 7 Home Basic

[edit] Business notebooks (VAIO Professional)

Business notebook models usually come with Windows 7 Professional installed (some higher models feature Windows 7 Ultimate. All business models have an XP downgrade option and full driver support).

  • TT Series[3] – Ultra portable 11.1″ professional notebook. Successor to the TZ Series and at 11 inches the smallest notebook computer to accommodate a Blu-ray Disc drive .
  • Z Series[4] – 13.1″ Ultra portable, featuring a 1600 x 900 display an optional 1920 x 1080 (Full High Definition) resolution upgrade and integrated WWAN.[5] (Replaces the high-end models of the SZ Series.)
  • SR Series[6] – 13.3″ ultraportable, for home and business use. (Replaces the low-end models of the SZ Series.)
  • BZ Series[7] – Robust business notebooks with Trusted Platform Module and biometric fingerprint security technology. (Replaces the BX Series.)
  • G Series – 11.1″ ultra portable notebook employing Trusted Platform Module technology and biometric fingerprint security features. Weighed only 1.1 kg and was made from CFRP and had an ultra thin LED backlit screen. This model brought many notebook technologies that are now mainstream to the consumer.

From the second quarter of 2008, all higher end models (AW, FW, Z, SR, TT and BZ) have incorporated a cylindrical spine, with no ports on the back of the computer. Generally, the AC adapter port is located on one end of the cylindrical spine, and the power button on the other.

VAIO Collection MARCH 2011 has completely omitted the wording ‘Business/Professional’ from its product line-up. Models such as the VPCSB series are now classified as ‘Mobile’ units. There are only three variations of the VAIO range MOBILE, ENTERTAINMENT and ALL IN ONE. There are no more Professional or Business units available any more.

[edit] Customizable notebooks (configure-to-order)

As of early 2009, Sony offer a customization option on higher-end machines through Sony’s high-street and online retail store, Customization options include the operating system (64-bit rather than 32-bit versions of Windows), RAM, graphics hardware, and in some models, casing. Configure-to-order machines can be distinguished by their 8-digit product code starting with 54 rather than 27 or 28.

[edit] All-in-one desktops

  • L Series[8]
    • LV Series – Full 24″ HD LCD display with resolution of 1920×1200 and 16:10 aspect ratio. Blu-ray reader/recorder able to record TV shows on Blu-ray
    • LT Series – 22″ display with a 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a built-in Blu-ray burner
    • LN Series – 20.1” X-black LCD display with resolution of 1680×1050 and 16:10 aspect ratio. Blu-ray reader but not recorder
    • LM Series – 19″ display, TV tuner, built-in 1.3 mega pixel cameras with face-tracking software, 2.1-channel speaker system and sub-woofers. Features an Intel Core2 Duo Processor T7250 (2.00 GHz), 2GB DDR2 SDRAM, 250GB HDD, Windows Vista Home Premium, and NVIDIA graphics
    • L Series – 24″ touch screen displaying 1080p resolution. Intel Core 2 Quad, 6GB RAM, Blu-ray burner, HDMI port, dual TV tuners, 1TB hard drive, 1GB Nvidia graphics and Windows 7 Home Premium.
  • JS Series – 20.1″ integrated lifestyle desktop available in a variety of colors. The chassis design closely resembles that of the Sony Bravia KDL-19M4000 19″ LCD HDTV.
  • RT – 25″ All-in-one desktop aimed at HD editing..

[edit] Problems

[edit] Heat problems

On September 4, 2008, Sony announced a worldwide voluntary product inspection and rework program for TZ-series notebook computers manufactured since June 2007. All model numbers beginning with VGN-TZ1 and VGN-TZ2 were eligible, along with some VGN-TZ3 notebooks. The issue involves “a limited number of units” which could potentially “generate heat around the DC jack inlet and frame of LCD screen, which creates the potential of deformation of the plastic casing”.[9] In the United States, the service offered is generally on-site, whilst in the rest of the world it typically involves collection of the notebook by a courier, often DHL, for servicing in a Sony repair center. ChannelWeb reports that 100,000 units have been recalled.

[edit] VGN-CS Series Cooling Fan failure

On 9 October 2007, Sony announced:

It has transpired that some VGN-CS series and VGN-BZ series VAIO notebook computers exhibit some uncharacteristic fan noise

On affected VAIO notebook computers, the cooling fan will start to make an unusual noise. For affected models highlighted in this notice, Sony offers a free repair service for two years starting from the purchase date.[10]

[edit] Concerns regarding hardware virtualization

In the past, nearly all Sony VAIO computers have had hardware virtualization technology (VT) disabled at the factory,[11] the exception being the new BZ range, which uses an Aptio BIOS by American Megatrends, rather than the customized Phoenix BIOS common on older models. However, on November 3, 2009, Sony released the following information on the website:

A number BIOS updates have been released which provide the option to enable VT in the BIOS. If a VT-enabling bios has been published for your VAIO model, you can find it in the Updates section.

The released BIOS updates were provided for most of the VAIO range, and as expected, it will only list the “Enable VT” option in the BIOS if the CPU supports it.

[edit] Wireless Hardware Switch

WiFi can be disabled by the user in two methods: the hardware switch and the software switch. If either one of these switches is turned off the WiFi will stay switched off. The hardware switch is located on the front or the keyboard hood or the side depending on the model with the inscription WLAN. A green light usually accompanies the switch but is only lit when both the hardware switch and the software switch are on indicating the WiFi NIC being in operation. The software switch is an icon usually located in the system tray, this program is called ‘VAIO Smart Network’ and also controls the bluetooth power. This program varies between older and newer models but is inherent in all OEM installations.

[edit] See also

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