VAIO, Sony’s exclusive IT brand is set to break the boundaries between AV and PC products, by evolving beyond the PC. VAIO, which stands for Video Audio Integrated Operation, was built 7 years ago on the concept of integrating audio-visual and information technology together resulting in the creation of music and video enjoyment on the PC. “Now VAIO is moving to pursue the original concept of VAIO by introducing personal computers with “new ways of operation” or “new forms”, which conventional PCs were not able to offer. ” says Gildas Pelliet, Vice-President Sony Information Technology Europe. “This will allow the user to experience high-quality picture and sound, wide connectivity options, compact and lightweight build, increased battery stamina and an intelligent interface that is central to the new unified VAIO identity”.
Whilst taking the step beyond the traditional PC, VAIO launches a wide range of products this Summer ranging from ultra mobile to home solutions. This continues the trend of constant innovation and high quality pioneered by the Ultra-slim VAIO 505 in 1998 when VAIO first launched in Europe. Since then VAIO has flourished, with such highlights as the first Bluetooth-equipped notebooks, unique screen technology for the best quality DVD experience and the first VAIO Home server (Network Media Receiver), all in 2003. Now in 2004 the fruits of this evolution will be seen in an initial range of products that encompass all the strengths of the VAIO life cycle and more to move the brand on to a new stage.
A wide product offering
The new VAIO line-up includes four series ranging from high-powered desktop replacements to the X505, to Europe’s thinnest fully featured notebook. This amazingly thin and light mobile is just 9.7mm thick and weighs a mere 840g. The VAIO X505 features a tough but light body, a whisper-quiet operation and a tiny footprint. By making the motherboard so small and the chassis so thin, there is no need for a palm rest. Instead, the surface on which the notebook sits can provide this function.
“VAIO products should not only be functionally superb, but that functionality should also inform an outstanding level of beauty,” continues Kaz Ichikawa of Sony Design Centre Europe. This is certainly true of the new VAIO notebooks, particularly the VAIO S-Series, which provides beauty and excellence thanks to its ergonomically designed casing and high quality materials.
The S-Series offers a mobile powerhouse for professionals, incorporating VAIO’s exclusive new screen technology 13.3 WXGA X-black LCD (1280×800), long battery stamina and a 1.89kg chassis.
The VAIO A-Series consists of premium-class mobile notebooks that can also become full desktop replacements. Based on a discrete ATI Mobility Radeon graphics and Centrino processor platform, the VAIO A-Series models feature 15-inch and 17-inch wide screens with superb colour reproduction and brightness. Powerful enough for any professional or home environment, their unique VAIO ergonomic elements such as the auto luminance sensor that adapts the screen-brightness really make these products stand out.
The VAIO K200 Series, visually enhanced by Sony’s new screen technology, which boosts brightness and contrast and breathes life into colours. Everything from the Windows Desktop to video, photos and games takes on a new and vivid dimension, ensuring the best possible user experience. The K200 offers a comprehensive software package for every day-to-day need; selected models are further distinguished by wide screen displays ideal for watching DVD movies as they were meant-to-be seen.
The defining colour of the new VAIO range is black, used to underline the brand’s sense of maturity and status. It also provides a sense of distinction. Accordingly the new VAIO RA, the flagship in the VAIO Home Server range is an elegant black. This full wireless home server solution factor redefines the concept of a PC tower featuring cinema quality AV audio performance, massive data storage capacity and advanced DVD creation. VAIO has had a central section of its chassis removed to facilitate air flow to the internal components, as well as a silent operation. This contrast between the dark and the light thus performs an essential function and brings the VAIO RA to life.
Every part of VAIO should be optimised to work at its best and most efficient, working hard to create a hassle-free and continuous brand experience. This concept extends to the software, which has been specially created to work in harmony with the hardware in the new VAIO product line. Thus the advanced DVD burning capabilities of the VAIO range are complemented with a revamped version of the Click to DVD authoring solution. With the minimum of effort, users can create a professional looking DVD, complete with transitions and titles and all the benefits of Dolby Surround Sound. On the audio side certain models in the new VAIO range benefit from the SonicStage Mastering Studio (in selected countries only), a music solution designed to convert and remaster analogue sources such as vinyl and tape as well already existing files. For easy TV recording Sony cooperated with TvTv (www.tvtv.co.uk) an online electronic program guide (EPG) to enable recording of television programmes: the user logs on to the online EPG service from any location and selects a programme to record. The EPG then automatically notifies the home server when online and starts recording the programme accordingly. When the user returns home he can enjoy the recorded content on the VAIO system.
Heralding the new direction for the VAIO brand is the VAIO Pocket, a handheld music and picture player that is able to provide 20 hours of music playback. The high-quality user experience is enhanced by an intelligent Smart Search interface and a unique touch-sensitive control grid, that provides easy access to select music and utilities. In addition the user can access Connect, Sony’s new Electronic Music Download service (launching in June in the UK, Germany and France initially) to provide a constant supply of new music to the user.
VAIO brand refreshed
“VAIO is entering its second phase where we want to focus on experiencing VAIO. The VAIO experience will be felt by the user not only through the products but through the refreshed value and branding of VAIO to create a unique sensation. The defining colour for the new VAIO branding is an exclusive black, covering everything from the VAIO website, packaging, communications collateral, advertising to create an even more desirable image of VAIO”. “We have basically removed the unnecessary to highlight what the user wants to do and to emphasise the important – this idea of simplicity is a hallmark of VAIO,” says Gildas Pelliet,
The concept of service does not stop with the products. Sony will launch a brand new VAIO Web site providing support, solutions, product information and a gateway to the Club VAIO community. A VAIO truck tour in collaboration with Intel is also planned focusing on digital home and mobility, to extend brand awareness and provide a hands on experience for the public. The “Experience It” tour will include 2 branded trucks visiting 11 European countries within a period of 36 weeks starting from the 13th May 2004, all details of the tour can be found on ww.experience-tour.com