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Sony unveils first non-Mac 'Thunderbolt' laptop coming this summer

post #1 of 42
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Sony on Tuesday took the wraps off a redesigned VAIO Z laptop, which is scheduled to arrive in Europe at the end of July and will feature a proprietary version of Intel's Thunderbolt technology. Meanwhile, Apple has issued a firmware update to improve Thunderbolt performance.

VAIO Z

The new 13.1-inch VAIO Z will take on Apple's MacBook Air in the ultraportable category, weighing just 2.6 pounds with a thickness of 0.86 inches. In order to reduce the size of the notebook, Sony moved the optical drive and dedicated graphics to an external box, dubbed the Power Media Dock.

Though the dock uses a proprietary version of Intel's codenamed "Light Peak" architecture, which is the same technology that Thunderbolt is based on, Sony has chosen not to market the optical connection as such. Full details on the custom connection are lacking from the company's press release, but it appears Sony has forgone the Mini DisplayPort solution that Apple co-developed with the chipmaker.

In addition to a Blu-ray optical drive and AMD Radeon graphics, the Power Media Dock will include an ethernet port, additional USB ports, and VGA and HDMI outputs.

The VAIO Z features a 1600x900 display, Intel Core i7 processors and up to 256GB of SSD RAID storage. Sony also touts a Quick Boot feature that loads Windows 7 "up to 50% quicker than conventional notebooks."

The electronics giant plans to launch the notebook first in Europe at the end of July. Sony declined to provide details on pricing or the timing of international availability, though the laptop is expected to make its way to the States.



Intel and Apple collaborated on the Thunderbolt specification, with Intel providing its then-codenamed "Light Peak" technology and Apple offering its Mini DisplayPort standard. The high-speed interconnect debuted alongside Apple's new MacBook Pros in February.

The first Thunderbolt-compatible peripherals are expected to arrive this summer. Storage maker LaCie demoed a "Little Big Disk" Thunderbolt solid-state drive last week, with read speeds of up to 827.2 MB per second. Several high end video equipment vendors are preparing breakout boxes and other devices that will take advantage of the technology.



Thunderbolt firmware

Apple issued a Thunderbolt Firmware Update for relevant Macs on Monday, providing "performance and stability fixes." for the new technology. The 486KB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.8.

The Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker has been steadily working out the kinks on Thunderbolt. In May, the company's new MacBook Pros and iMacs, currently the only Macs to support Thunderbolt, received several updates to improve performance and compatibility.
post #2 of 42
The Sony suckitude continues...
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post #3 of 42
Good stuff. It's great to see the lightpeak/thunderbolt tech hit the market on multiple platforms. Let's hope it becomes a standard, with affordable devices, in the next few years.

Also to the poster above - well done on showing your fanboy might! Though I guess this is an apple forum...
post #4 of 42
Way to go Sony... you had such success with your other proprietary formats for all these years, I guess you decided to continue with that winning formula right??? NOT!

How'd that memory stick thingy work for ya???
post #5 of 42
I'm hoping Apple or someone else makes something similar for the MBA.
post #6 of 42
Industry abhors simplicity - they just had to make it complicated.

Unless this port does something dramatically better then the mini-display port, (Speed? Cable length?) then I'd say that this is just childish vindictive behavior. They need the port, but don't want to admit to using the best technology?

They did the same thing with firewire, calling it "iLink" and using only the camcorder version of the cable. This hurt both Sony, (People didn't know they could attach faster drives to their PCs) and Firewire. (People didn't realize how many windows PCs had Firewire.)
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Way to go Sony... you had such success with your other proprietary formats for all these years, I guess you decided to continue with that winning formula right??? NOT!

How'd that memory stick thingy work for ya???

Exactly. And they call Apple "proprietary"

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post #8 of 42
I'm glad to hear Sony will be using Thunderbolt, but I think it is extremely lame they will use a different name and a different connector. After all what is the point of creating a new standard if you are gonna use different names and connectors! I wish there was someone with the balls to say cut the crap Sony and call it Thunderbolt and use mini display port.
post #9 of 42
post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obi-Wan Kubrick View Post

I'm glad to hear Sony will be using Thunderbolt, but I think it is extremely lame they will use a different name and a different connector. After all what is the point of creating a new standard if you are gonna use different names and connectors! I wish there was someone with the balls to say cut the crap Sony and call it Thunderbolt and use mini display port.

I thought Apple had exclusivity for 2011 which may be why Sony wasn't allowed to use go the mDP route. It could just be Sony working on getting TB poised for a real roll out next year with some trial models and using the USB port (which Intel was told by the USB-IF not to use) to work out some of the engineering kinks. IOW, next year we may see Sony start using the open mDP port as their TB port.

One thing to look for is performance between the two. I'm guessing that the same high-speed peripheral connected to a Mac running Mac OS via TB will be considerably faster than a Sony running .Windows. Call it a hunch.
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post #11 of 42
Sony epics:
Beta
iLink
Memory Stick
(Blue ray schick too)
a few small hacks and/or security breaches
and now the new, non-standard, soon to be overrun Sony Lightfart/Little Thunderdongle thingy

There's also a bunch of Sony DRM and other small stuff all to insignificant to mention.
post #12 of 42
Is this one laptop displayed two different ways. Or is this two parts for one machine?

"The new 13.1-inch VAIO Z will take on Apple's MacBook Air in the ultraportable category, weighing just 2.6 pounds with a thickness of 0.86 inches. In order to reduce the size of the notebook, Sony moved the optical drive and dedicated graphics to an external box, dubbed the Power Media Dock".

post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obi-Wan Kubrick View Post

I'm glad to hear Sony will be using Thunderbolt, but I think it is extremely lame they will use a different name and a different connector. After all what is the point of creating a new standard if you are gonna use different names and connectors! I wish there was someone with the balls to say cut the crap Sony and call it Thunderbolt and use mini display port.

You can probably thank Apple for having a one year exclusive rights to Thunderbolt for why Sony is having to go the USB-like route.
post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by macminiwii View Post

Is this one laptop displayed two different ways. Or is this two parts for one machine?

"The new 13.1-inch VAIO Z will take on Apple's MacBook Air in the ultraportable category, weighing just 2.6 pounds with a thickness of 0.86 inches. In order to reduce the size of the notebook, Sony moved the optical drive and dedicated graphics to an external box, dubbed the Power Media Dock".


So it's 13% heavier and 26% thicker than the 13" MBA and while it does offer more total RAM it starts at $2,294 (UK site) and doesn't even include the dock, which is another $640.

Nice machine but I sure hope Sony isn't calling it a MBA killer.
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post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorPaul View Post

Sony epics:
Beta
iLink
Memory Stick
(Blue ray schick too)
a few small hacks and/or security breaches
and now the new, non-standard, soon to be overrun Sony Lightfart/Little Thunderdongle thingy

There's also a bunch of Sony DRM and other small stuff all to insignificant to mention.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say

Beta was very successful, as was iLink, and Blu-ray.

And can you list the Sony DRM that you are concerned with?

Plus, can you tell me why Sony creating their own items is bad, but Apple doing the same is good?
post #16 of 42
Hmm...

The thicker, heavier, more expensive laptop that comes with an extra box to make it work well?

I see how that will sell well. Sony does great things but has a habit of then either dumping them entirely or releasing a new model that is worse.
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post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cy_starkman View Post

Hmm...

The thicker, heavier, more expensive laptop that comes with an extra box to make it work well?

I see how that will sell well. Sony does great things but has a habit of then either dumping them entirely or releasing a new model that is worse.

Comes with an extra box to make it work even better. The basic specs are better than the Air, and I think the dock idea is great, I wish more companies did it. I used a Henge dock with my MBP for while to see if I could combine my desktop/laptop to save money, it worked in theory, but needed a better dock. The new ByteDock might make me try again.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga89 View Post

Comes with an extra box to make it work even better. The basic specs are better than the Air, and I think the dock idea is great, I wish more companies did it. I used a Henge dock with my MBP for while to see if I could combine my desktop/laptop to save money, it worked in theory, but needed a better dock. The new ByteDock might make me try again.

I also agree with the dock idea. I think that is the most interesting part of this announcement. It makes me hope that Apple might offer a new Superdrive external that combines a dedicated graphics card with the optical drive. Then you can overcome the limitations of the graphics of the new SB processors that will be in the Air. It would vastly improve the MBA's performance with both gaming and other GPU intensive processes, like Final Cut Pro or Aperture. This would also open up the Air as a viable option to more people, as they can have portability, and then use it more like a desktop replacement when the dock is attached.
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post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfanning View Post

I'm not sure what you are trying to say

Beta was very successful, as was iLink, and Blu-ray.

And can you list the Sony DRM that you are concerned with?

Plus, can you tell me why Sony creating their own items is bad, but Apple doing the same is good?

Consumer Beta was a complete failure. i.Link was a joke. The DRM was called ATRAC. Are you going to call that a success?
post #20 of 42
Is it just me or is there nothing to plug into the thunderbolt port at the mo? Seems funny there are updates, lol... c'mon itz too long already...


quote:

Thunderbolt firmware

Apple issued a Thunderbolt Firmware Update for relevant Macs on Monday, providing "performance and stability fixes." for the new technology. The 486KB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.8.

The Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker has been steadily working out the kinks on Thunderbolt. In May, the company's new MacBook Pros and iMacs, currently the only Macs to support Thunderbolt, received several updates to improve performance and compatibility.
post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Consumer Beta was a complete failure. i.Link was a joke. The DRM was called ATRAC. Are you going to call that a success?

Yes but Beta was accepted as being technically superior to VHS which is why it stuck around in broadcast circles for years. Also ATRAC wasn't DRM, it was a custom compression system that predated the popularity of MP3. ATRAC was pretty impressive in that it allowed 'on-the-fly' compression by a portable device back in 1993. People complained that it was DRM because if you played an ATRAC compressed audio stream and converted it to ATRAC the quality sucked - guess what, that's true of MP3 too.
post #22 of 42
ah yes ATRAC, that was a pain in the a** but you forgot the other horrible things done in conjunction with the RIA and other companies such as SCMS, S/PDIF etc.

to be fair BETA was technically better than VHS...


Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Consumer Beta was a complete failure. i.Link was a joke. The DRM was called ATRAC. Are you going to call that a success?
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So it's 13% heavier and 26% thicker than the 13" MBA and while it does offer more total RAM it starts at $2,294 (UK site) and doesn't even include the dock, which is another $640.

Nice machine but I sure hope Sony isn't calling it a MBA killer.

lol -_- does no one look at specs..... i think this Sony sh*t is way to expensive also, but it comes starting with 256GB SSD, 2.70Ghz core i7, you get 3G radio in it, starts with better screen--1600x900 and you can upgrade to 1080p... (ofc i would preffer MBA 13' 16:10 format) than for $3000 you get AMD 6650M and blue ray.

i expect this price will be lower in US..... but unless its halved it won't sell to anyone but people who need mobile broadband, really badly...

is it worth more money than the MBA, yes. It it worth $1,000 over the MBA 13' with 256GB HD.... no, no fucking way.

it caters to a few people, mobile broadband, intense applications (CAD, heavy gaming, etc (but you could get a MBA and a faster desktop than this for under $2000 ))

so its really good if you want thunderbolt and mobile broadband?

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post #24 of 42
iLink was at least just a marketing term; it was fully FireWire. Apple's exclusivity on thunderbolt was just in product lead time; nothing contractual from what previous reports stated.
post #25 of 42
I want Intel to release a statement that says, "This is not Thunderbolt or Light Peak. Sony is not legally allowed to sell this device under the Thunderbolt or Light Peak names. It does not meet the requirements of our specification in any way."

Quote:
so its really good if you want thunderbolt and mobile broadband?

Except it doesn't work with any Thunderbolt devices whatsoever.

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Originally Posted by strobe View Post

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Originally Posted by Marvin

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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #26 of 42
The big evil from Sony was the root kit: People innocently playing store-bought music CDs would, without their knowledge, have a root kit installed on their PCs that would install copy protection for audio CDS. It also accidentally (?) opened up security holes that allowed hackers to take over your system. If an ordinary person had done this it would be certain jail time, but Sony has the lawyers to make law meaningless.
post #27 of 42
Will it include a Memory Stick Pro Duo+ Mega Turbo Extreme slot?
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamondgeeza View Post

Is it just me or is there nothing to plug into the thunderbolt port at the mo? Seems funny there are updates, lol... c'mon itz too long already...

You can plug any MiniDisplayPort monitor already.

Also, these just came out today: http://www.tuaw.com/2011/06/28/apple...00-raid-array/

But what I came here to say isn't a reply to you, actually — I think the headline here is wrong. If it doesn't use the MiniDisplayPort cable, it's not Thunderbolt. If it's BASED on Light Peak, but NOT Light Peak, it's not Thunderbolt.

On Sony's own page, they call it a proprietary port that "can also be used to attach regular USB devices to VAIO when it’s not docked," NOT Thunderbolt. The word "Thunderbolt" doesn't even appear anywhere on the page. This isn't a "we're calling it iLink but it's really Firewire" thing; it's a different connector entirely.

http://presscentre.sony.eu/content/d...6&NewsAreaId=2

Sony isn't really creating any confusion or fragmentation of Thunderbolt here (because it's not Thunderbolt, if I didn't say that enough) — news sites like Apple Insider and PC World doing so are creating the confusion.
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post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post

Sony isn't really creating any confusion or fragmentation of Thunderbolt here (because it's not Thunderbolt, if I didn't say that enough) news sites like Apple Insider and PC World doing so are creating the confusion.

You're confused. Thunderbolt isn't itself a "branch" of what Light Peak was.

Thunderbolt is Light Peak. Light Peak was a code name. Thunderbolt is the real name. Like iTV became Apple TV. There aren't branches of what iTV became.

If it isn't Thunderbolt, it also cannot be called Light Peak at all.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

You're confused. Thunderbolt isn't itself a "branch" of what Light Peak was.

Thunderbolt is Light Peak. Light Peak was a code name. Thunderbolt is the real name. Like iTV became Apple TV. There aren't branches of what iTV became.

If it isn't Thunderbolt, it also cannot be called Light Peak at all.

I'm not confused at all. Your reading comprehension is failing you.

I know full well that Light Peak is Thunderbolt, but Sony — NOT ME — described this proprietary port as being "based on the architecture codenamed ‘Light Peak.'"
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post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

Also ATRAC wasn't DRM, it was a custom compression system that predated the popularity of MP3. ATRAC was pretty impressive in that it allowed 'on-the-fly' compression by a portable device back in 1993. People complained that it was DRM because if you played an ATRAC compressed audio stream and converted it to ATRAC the quality sucked - guess what, that's true of MP3 too.

Sure, ATRAC itself is simply a way to compress audio. However, it was almost always accompanied by DRM on MiniDisc recorders/players. That, combined with it being completely proprietary, made it near impossible to get the digital version of your recordings off of anything but the very high-end MiniDisc recorders. Pain in the *ss indeed...

A couple of relevant URLs for those interested:

Is getting a MiniDisc player a good idea? (3rd post)
So long ATRAC, thanks for nothing
 
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post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negafox View Post

You can probably thank Apple for having a one year exclusive rights to Thunderbolt for why Sony is having to go the USB-like route.

Apple don't have exclusive rights to the format, they just got the spec before everyone else, which Intel said gave them an effective 12 month start - it was closer to 6 months though.

If I recall, Intel tried to build Thunderbolt using the USB port but were declined by the USB-IF because the port wasn't designed for this.

Whether Sony got a mixed message or decided to go their own way isn't clear but IMO, they went the correct route.

This design allows you to connect data ports and items like Blu-Ray directly to the USB 3 port while passing full TB bandwidth to a GPU. With the design that Intel/Apple went with, that other channel is reserved for a display, which you might not even have connected and to be perfectly honest, I don't like the idea of having a display daisy chained off something like a Blu-Ray drive anyway.

If I have a portable drive, I don't want to have to disconnect my screen to plug it in (the screen has to be the last in the chain). To put this into an example:

Sony's laptop has HDMI output even without the dock so if I plug it into a display, I still have the option to fully utilise both the USB 3 and the Thunderbolt.
Apple's Macbook Pro has a single port so if I plug in a monitor and I have a Thunderbolt portable drive, then I have to unplug the monitor before I can use it and even then, I'm a port down vs Sony.

That's even before the cost comes into it.

You now have to consider that if Sony can do this, what's to stop every PC manufacturer and device manufacturer from following Sony and using the USB port? They would be able to make portable USB 3 drives that operate over either USB 3 or TB with a single port. They also manage to make Apple's entire product line almost obsolete because few devices would work with it. All they'd have to worry about is incompatible marketing.

The big question I'd have is if Sony's design entirely prevents them from using devices like the Pegasus RAID systems and Lacie drive along with other products at NAB. If so, it's a bit of a fail. If it just needs a cable that costs less than $50, probably not.
post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Consumer Beta was a complete failure. i.Link was a joke. The DRM was called ATRAC. Are you going to call that a success?

iLink is firewire, as a technology it was far from a failure.

Who said anything about consumer beta, only Beta was mentioned, and Beta was a huge success.

And Atrac is a codec, not DRM
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

what's to stop every PC manufacturer and device manufacturer from following Sony and using the USB port?

Intel, hopefully.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

That's even before the cost comes into it.

Yes, do tell us ablout cost, Marvin.

This thicker, heavier device from Sony is just double the price of a MacBook Air. Imagine if they had used a licensed TB port!
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

Sure, ATRAC itself is simply a way to compress audio. However, it was almost always accompanied by DRM on MiniDisc recorders/players. That, combined with it being completely proprietary, made it near impossible to get the digital version of your recordings off of anything but the very high-end MiniDisc recorders. Pain in the *ss indeed...

You mean the way that AAC was often combined with Fairplay back in the day? Or for that matter the way that iTunes video still is?

People freaked about ATRAC DRM but really it was fine - I loved my little MDisc player before I got my iPod-2gen. It was far less aggressive and evil than blu-ray's DRM is.
post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

You mean the way that AAC was often combined with Fairplay back in the day? Or for that matter the way that iTunes video still is?

People freaked about ATRAC DRM but really it was fine - I loved my little MDisc player before I got my iPod-2gen. It was far less aggressive and evil than blu-ray's DRM is.

But the thing is, iPods and Blu-Ray players are intended simply for content playback. Many MiniDisc players also had digital recording capabilities (and were marketed as such), which is what got prosumers who couldn't afford DAT equipment so excited about them.

Unfortunately, Sony didn't make it well known that even if you recorded your own material onto a blank MiniDisc (not talking about pirating commercial content), you'd have a h*ll of a time getting at the original (digital) copy due to the DRM which was stupidly added and the lack of anything else which could read ATRAC data. That's what really chafed many people (including myself) about ATRAC.
 
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post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

They also manage to make Apple's entire product line almost obsolete because few devices would work with it.

And what would stop Apple from releasing an adapter cable? The key isn't the USB port... it's that Sony appears to be using optical instead of electrical connections. There's apparently an optical terminal inside the USB port (so I've read). That means at the very least an adapter box to convert the electrical signal to optical, and is probably why Sony is saying it won't work with normal thunderbolt peripherals.
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Yes, do tell us ablout cost, Marvin.

This thicker, heavier device from Sony is just double the price of a MacBook Air. Imagine if they had used a licensed TB port!

Yeah, I guess the cost of Sony's laptop pretty much outweighs the cost of USB 3 devices vs Thunderbolt ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitespecter

The key isn't the USB port... it's that Sony appears to be using optical instead of electrical connections.

I read that today, I wonder if it offers a higher bandwidth or if it's still running at 10Gbps. Intel supposedly won't have the 50Gbps optical Thunderbolt successor out until 2015.
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Yes, do tell us ablout cost, Marvin.

This thicker, heavier device from Sony is just double the price of a MacBook Air. Imagine if they had used a licensed TB port!

its not licensed last time i checked-- hopefully so it doesn't end up like firewire? sorry if i am wrong.

but yeah lol-- so with dock starting price of $3,000 (assuming 1080p screen)

well, you get better PPI (128 vs 166) times the pixels (vs base MBA 13') better graphics (1-2.5 times the power, maybe more) a lot faster CPU.... but overly fast for anything buy gaming. same GB SSD. Blu ray player (who cares)-- oh and its larger-- gets 14 battery life---if u make it ever larger

all told-- if it wasn't for the fact that Sony knew it couldn't make something sub 1,500 (and make margins it wants) that competes, and makes $, so instead it made something that costs twice as much-- with probably a hugeass margin (parts cost, 85$ ram, $100 screen, ~250$ cpu, 150$ gpu, about $100 blu-ray (probably a lot less)..)

so anyone see this profit margin? rofl

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if i say something confusing please tell me!

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i have processing issues, mostly trying to get my ideas into speech and text.

if i say something confusing please tell me!

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