|Formerly called||Sony VAIO|
|Industry||PC & Laptop manufacturing|
|Owners||Japan Industrial Partners (95%)
Sony Corporation (5%)
VAIO Corporation (//, standing for Visual Audio Intelligent Organizer) is a manufacturer of personal computers. Vaio was originally a brand of Sony Corporation, introduced in 1996. Sony sold its PC business to the investment firm Japan Industrial Partners in February 2014 as part of a restructuring of the corporation to focus on mobile devices. Sony maintains a minority stake in the new, independent company.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2012)|
Although Sony made computers in the 1980s exclusively for the Japanese market, the company withdrew from the computer business around the beginning of the 1990s. Sony's re-entry into the global computer market, under the new Vaio brand, began in 1996 with the PCV series of desktops—the PCV-90 was designed with a 3D graphical interface as a novelty for new users. The first generation of Vaio laptop computers was released in 1997 and the US$2,000 PCG-505 model was designed to be “SuperSlim,” and was housed in a four-panel magnesium body.
Sony Vaio's latest designs were released during a period of low PC sales and included models with innovations such as magnetized stands and the Vaio Tap, which was designed with a completely separate keyboard. The latest models were complemented by the Windows 8 operating system.
Spin-off from Sony
On 4 February 2014, Sony announced that it would sell its Vaio PC business due to poor sales and Japanese company Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will purchase the Vaio brand, with the deal finalized by the end of March 2014. Sony will maintain a 5 percent stake in the new company, and still sell Vaio products through its online stores.
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 logo concept was created by Teiyuu Goto, supervisor of product design from the Sony Creative Center in Tokyo. He incorporated many meanings into the logo and acronym: the pronunciation is similar to "bio", which is symbolic of life and the product's future evolution; it's also near "violet", which is why most early Vaios were purple or included purple components. The sound some Vaio models make when starting up is derived from the melody created when pressing a telephone keypad to spell the letters V-A-I-O.
In mid-2005 a hidden partition on the hard drive, accessible at boot via the BIOS or within Windows via a utility is used instead of recovery media for many Vaio laptops. 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. In cases where the system comes with Windows 7 64 bit pre-installed, the provided recovery media restores the system to Windows 7 32 or 64 bit. Therefore, the user must create their own recovery disks.
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 2010 and the antivirus software (Norton AntiVirus on older models, and McAfee VirusScan or TrendMicro 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 or Elpida RAM, Atheros and Intel wireless chipsets, Sony (usually made by Hitachi) or Matsushita optical drives, Intel, NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards 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.
As of 2013, Sony Vaio's range comprises seven products. The most basic are the models contemplated in the E, T and S series while the high end model, the Z Series, has been discontinued. Sony also has a range of hybrid computers, with models called Vaio Duo 11/13, Vaio Tap 11/20 and Vaio Fit multi-flip, as well as a desktop computer under the L series. Currently, models use Windows systems and Intel processors, as described above.
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.
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 1366x768 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 an 18.4" 16/9 display.
Another addition to the Vaio series in Spring 2007 was the TZ model. This new design featured a 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD) for rapid boot-ups, quicker application launches and greater durability. If selected, a 250GB Hard Drive could also have been included in place of the built-in CD/DVD drive to provide room for additional storage. For security, this model included a biometric fingerprint sensor and Trusted Platform Module. The TZ offered a Built-in highly miniaturized Motion Eye camera built into the LCD panel for video conferencing. Additional features included 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. Vaio has long since been revered as a household name in the world of mobile computing, with the range of notebooks offering premium Windows-based experiences.
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. 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.
- Tom Warren (6 February 2014). "A look back at Sony's iconic VAIO computers". The Verge. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Smith, Mat (February 6, 2014). "Sony sells its VAIO PC business, makes TV arm its own subsidiary". Engadget. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- Catherine Shu (6 February 2014). "Sony To Exit PC Business By Selling VAIO". TechCrunch. AOL, Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Sony Corporation Statement regarding Media Reports dated February 4-5, 2014". Sony Corporation. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Sayonara, VAIO: Sony sells off PC business to focus on mobile". PC World. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- "Vaio brand relaunches in Japan". PC World. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- "Sony redefines the meaning of VAIO". pcpro.co.uk. 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- Team Sony (2009-08-20). "Answered: What Does VAIO Stand For Anyway?".
- VAIOホームページ（Internet Archiveのバックアップデータ）, The philosophy of VAIO「VAIO」の由来とフィロソフィー 2000年 (Japanese)
- Vaio TR Notebook Developers' Interview
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