Sony's Thoughts On the MacBook Air

During the Keynote, Jobs compared the Macbook Air to Sony's TZ ultraportable, implying it had a small keyboard and screen, was too thick, and was not that good. Here's what Sony thinks of the Apple MacBook Air:

Mike Abary, senior vice president of VAIO product marketing, thought the engineering to get a laptop that thin was extremely impressive. But Sony had a similiar vision for an ultraportable once, a carbon fiber notebook in 2004 called the X505 (above) that eschewed the optical and was 0.3 inches thick (compared to 0.16 of the Air) at its thinnest segment. It wasn't that well received, and research later pointed out that "Thinness is not the holy grail". Making something that thin and sexy cost it too much usability.


To be fair, dropping an optical in 2004 made no sense, but it makes more sense in 2008, especially with broader internet connections, bittorrent, greater storage capacity, thumbdrives, and Apple's Remote optical drive tech which works over wireless N. But since the X505, ultra portables from Sony have evolved into the TZ, complete with LED backlight, a small but usable keyboard, plenty of ports and built in 3G data. So it is possible that Sony believes they are in many ways 4 years ahead of Apple in their understanding of what consumers want.

When the NYTimes pushed Jobs on the issues of limited storage, he responded, "Maybe this isn't the computer for you." I asked Mike who they thought the computer was for. "Beats me" was the initial reply, but came up with an answer: The extremely design conscious. I asked what feature he'd bring back to the Air, and without hesitating, he thought it should have for 3G.

I wish I could dismiss all of this as competitive trash talk, but too many of you feel the same conflicting feelings about where the Air fits into your collection of machines. At Giz, we're only tormented inside because we still want to buy it, despite it being not all that practical.

News source: Gizmodo

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Apple just doesn't get it. Simplicity is great, but Apple's thinking is too simple, their products are not suitable for different needs. Both Macbook and Macbook Pro can not be considered as portable notebooks. Why? The main problem is their weight. They are both well over 5 pounds, which doesn't make them really portable. Sony blows Apple away on making portable notebooks. Notebooks with 13.3-inch display can actually be very portable, like Sony Vaio SZ series. SZ series are the best notebooks i have seen that is well balance between portability and performance. It's portable, because it's 4 pounds, and believe me, that 1.x less pound does make a difference on portability. SZ also has good performance and good battery life. Intel Core 2 Duo processors, hybrid graphic system (Intel GMA + NVidia Geforce), etc. Battery life can last more than 4 hours with less power consumptive tasks. Dell and Asus has started to make 13.3-inch notebooks, too, which is a good display size for both portability and performance. Sony Vaio TZ series not as powerful as SZ, but it is even more portable. It is 0.3 pound LESS heavier than Macbook Air, and it has everything: built-in optical drive, built-in Ethernet port, 3G, Wi-Fi, stereo speakers, 2 USB ports, replaceable battery, etc. Macbook Air has none of these, except 1 USB ports. Sony VAIO design team would laugh at Macbook Air.

Sony did pinpoint the real problem, the problems with Apple isn't Apple himself but stupid users that buy any Apple products disregard the capacity,style (minimalist = plain white and limited) or usability. In this case Sony says "we sold a ultraportable notebook several years ago.. and wasn't sold pretty well, and now Apple did the same and sell well?"


One thing to note is that VAIOs were (are?) known for having proprietary hardware (side scrollers, device specific hardware keys etc) won't work if you format the drive to load a fresh copy of Windows. The only way to load those drivers and irritating but required hardware apps was to restore from the factory CDs which included tons of crapware.

Quite a few OEM's are like that, if I want to use the FN key combos or the media-specific buttons on my Toshiba, I have to use their drivers/software package, since all those functions are software-based. You can download the software directly from Toshiba however.

The downside to that, are using other OS' and flavors of Windows, since the drivers don't exist.

Sony can match Apple for style and price, and at least Sony includes memory card readers in their laptops, I don't understand why Apple can't do that, especially seeing as they are a company for graphic types.

With an 800$ pricepoint it would have made a great way for people to enter tha macworld. They should of shot for gaining market share rather than a making a huge profit. In my opinion.

I liked, planned on buying, saw the end of the keynote and said HELL NO!

WarLuigi said,
With an 800$ pricepoint it would have made a great way for people to enter tha macworld. They should of shot for gaining market share rather than a making a huge profit. In my opinion.

I liked, planned on buying, saw the end of the keynote and said HELL NO!

Apple needs an inexpensive enthusiast desktop model. Or putting the TPM chip on a USB dongle and un-bundling the OS would be preferable.

definately not aiming it at the Toughbook crowd. course thats a waste of money too. Some people though want 20 inch laptop screens and weight isn't an issue. Like a Power Supply Unit. The heavier it is, the better made it is.

So lets see.. choice is $550 for a Refurbished laptop that looks amazing vs $1800 that might look okay but doesn't do much. Well I suppose if you have money to burn go ahead. But the average consumer probably will ignore it. This makes Vista Ultimate look pretty darn cheap.

A Mac is still more of a toy till they get better 3rd party support. If i was Steve Jobs I would pour some money in getting a layer built to run window applications on a mac, there are just to many applications drivers written for windows to make Mac a viable choice and if Apple ever wants to be a true player in business they need to allow other people to create hardware for them.

A typical mac user
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smug_Alert!

Xsabin said,
A Mac is still more of a toy till they get better 3rd party support. If i was Steve Jobs I would pour some money in getting a layer built to run window applications on a mac, there are just to many applications drivers written for windows to make Mac a viable choice and if Apple ever wants to be a true player in business they need to allow other people to create hardware for them.

A typical mac user
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smug_Alert!

Ridiculous post. A toy? where to start

evo_spook said,

Ridiculous post. A toy? where to start

Lets be honest forcing proprietary hardware to inflate prices isn't going to increase apples share for long. They have quite a few things to do if they want to switch the windows base users to Mac. I just don't see apple serious about switching everyone to Mac.

I will admit Apples OS from the core up preforms better then Windows but then again so does Linux. If you take a look for example at Linux they have WINE, a layer that allows some windows game/applications to run pretty well on their OS. Apple needs something more then boot camp.

Maybe i just don't get the whole mac thing, the smug feeling those people get.

One thing i do like about the mac air is the processor, can't wait till they make one those for x86

can't wait till they make one those for x86

You CAN buy that CPU.. and better. It's both x86 AND x64!! It's a-ma-za-zing the things we have today.

Technically EMT64.. or something. AMD has the rights to x64.. or something.

RAID 0 said,

You CAN buy that CPU.. and better. It's both x86 AND x64!! It's a-ma-za-zing the things we have today.

Technically EMT64.. or something. AMD has the rights to x64.. or something.


Intel makes EM64T
AMD makes AMD64
Apple makes nothing.

Think Different: Build your own PC!

Croquant said,

Intel makes EM64T
AMD makes AMD64
Apple makes nothing.

Think Different: Build your own PC!

Only worth to build your own PC when the cost is around or above $1,000 other then that name brands are the way to go. I don't know the model number of that processor but if it is available how much and is it cheap enough to put into a UMPC

I'm glad there seems to be a general swell of opinion questioning the point of the Macbook Air beyond a fashion accessory. I love Apple kit and have generally been the first to defend against the usual slew of detractors who chime up every time a new iPod comes and we're reminded about how the Creative Zen does this feature, or the Archos does that feature.. whatever your views, the iPod has deserved to get where it is today - beautiful design, usable by the masses of people who aren't that technical, and in most cases good value for money.

With the Air, I just don't get it. I mean - it is a good weight saving on the Macbook, but was the Macbook REALLY that heavy in the first place? Its pretty much a lower overall spec (except for the 2GB of RAM standard) and has its fair share of limitations. No ethernet jack especially is a real puzzler for me. Every laptop i've used i've found the ethernet jack really important. Optical drive I could live without definately.

I'm going to put my neck out on the line here and predict that it won't do that well - sort of like the Apple Cube. Awesome to look at, super desirable, marvellous engineering but somewhat limited, damned expensive and ultimately going to sell to a niche audience.

I agree, the small laptop I would want is a one like this but cross it with the Sony or eeePC, possibly in the same style as the air.

With full OSX, a 7-11" screen.

I agree with the no built in no optical drive. Something I can just grab out of my bag incase I wanted to check on server.
With a 3G sim card slot for internet connection when there was no wifi available (hot swappable with your phone sim)

But it would be the same price as it is now, as the Sony is more expensive.

evo_spook said,
I agree, the small laptop I would want is a one like this but cross it with the Sony or eeePC, possibly in the same style as the air.

With full OSX, a 7-11" screen.

I agree with the no built in no optical drive. Something I can just grab out of my bag incase I wanted to check on server.
With a 3G sim card slot for internet connection when there was no wifi available (hot swappable with your phone sim)

But it would be the same price as it is now, as the Sony is more expensive.

Get a UMPC/Mid then.

evo_spook said,
I agree, the small laptop I would want is a one like this but cross it with the Sony or eeePC, possibly in the same style as the air.

With full OSX, a 7-11" screen.

I agree with the no built in no optical drive. Something I can just grab out of my bag incase I wanted to check on server.
With a 3G sim card slot for internet connection when there was no wifi available (hot swappable with your phone sim)

But it would be the same price as it is now, as the Sony is more expensive.

I'd buy one if they made a 10" model... it doesn't make sense to me in a 13"...

.fahim said,

I'd buy one if they made a 10" model... it doesn't make sense to me in a 13"...

Well I would consider it.


Checked the UMPCs out and no they don't have Mobile sim cards.

Why don't they give mobile laptops sim card slots?

Chicane-UK said,
With the Air, I just don't get it. I mean - it is a good weight saving on the Macbook, but was the Macbook REALLY that heavy in the first place?
Compared to my 12" PowerBook, yes my wife's MacBook is a cow. Seriously, it's that noticeable to me. But the rest of what you said I agree with.

"Maybe this isn't the computer for you."

Well, the problem is who this computer is for? ok it's thin and looks great but what good is an ultraportable when you can't change the batteries?

who is Jobs to point out other manufacturer's laptop problems ....when he comes up with such a crap concept.
-800 --- Jobs needs to rethink his approach.... your finger practically goes through the keyboard.... on yer bike

RenderItBlue said,
I actually like that x505, may get one from ebay lol

I did a quick search and didn't find much, just one buy it now for $1300 (way too much).

I agree though, it looks amazing.

Powerless said,
Well he's right. :cool:

I know. I was being serious. That's the best possible answer he could have given.

Limited storage? my first laptop, about 4-5 years ago, came with 10gb, my most recent only came with 40gb, my apple has 60gb, for stuff thats not vital, or that I'm not working on is backed up onto cheap 500gb external hard drives.

well 5 years ago, most computers had very small hard drives, you really cant compare computers from 5 years ago to anything nowdays, hard drive space has grown a LOT in the last 5 years

Yeah, the Air has about the same specs as the MacBook Pro I bought mid-2006, albeit a slightly slower processor, and no optical...

They took a laptop, made it smaller and less usable. Move along. I'm disappointed Apple...no user-replaceable...ANYTHING. Form over functionality...but there is a line Apple, and this one crosses it.

dagamer34 said,
It's a user-replaceable laptop. Duh!

You either in favour and need it, you buy it. Its not suitable, then you don't, theres no crossing anyline.

Theres a sales success and a sales failure.
No I wouldn't buy it, for the same money I'd get a mac book pro or just the mac book.


Ultra portable, yes I'd be tempted by the sony, except, its more expensive :-(
tut, Windows PC and their extravagant prices :-(

evo_spook said,

You either in favour and need it, you buy it. Its not suitable, then you don't, theres no crossing anyline.

Theres a sales success and a sales failure.
No I wouldn't buy it, for the same money I'd get a mac book pro or just the mac book.


Ultra portable, yes I'd be tempted by the sony, except, its more expensive :-(
tut, Windows PC and their extravagant prices :-(

i ask you this, who is this laptop targeted at ??? i am still trying to figure that one out..

If I had money swelling out of my every orrifice then I would buy one of these two laptops. They are very light, very thin and are simply the best. I pesonally have a very big problem with the lack of an ethernet port on the air which would would probably make me swing towards the Sony.