May 20, 2006 Computer miniaturisation in its extreme forms creates usability problems – like having a space big enough for a usable keyboard AND screen so you can get the information in and out. In 2003, these factors led to the advent and subsequent proliferation of the slider phone design as it is the only viable alternative to the clamshell design in squeezing a usable keyboard and screen into a small, elegant and robust exterior. So it was only a matter of time before micro-PC manufacturers should follow suit. Sony this week announced a slider design VAIO UX Micro PC using the Microsoft XP Pro OS, an Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage CPU, 30GB hard drive, 512MB of RAM, two built-in cameras (one in front for VoIP video conferencing and one on the back for taking 2MPX piccies) and a full suite of wireless connectivity. Available in Japan this week, it will hit US stores in July for about US$1,800. Expensive? Yes! Landmark? Maybe – having one machine on the desk and another in your pocket is dumb and we just haven’t worked out how to get full functionality at all times yet. The slider form factor could be a significant step on the way to the inevitable. If you can’t wait until July, I4U is reporting that Japanese gadget exporter Dynamism will sell you a Japanese version in several different packages for around US$2200-$2300, though it comes with Windows XP Home, rather than Windows XP Professional.
The UX model also features a 4.5-inch wide SVGA screen with XBRITE technology for viewing that slides up to expose an integrated keyboard. This allows you to access familiar applications easily in the same way you would on a full-sized computer.
The pocket-sized PC also comes equipped with a stylus and Sony’s VAIO touch launcher for quick access to functions frequently used such as Internet access, e-mail, various computer applications, games and music. Just push the launcher button located on the side of the unit.
Keeping travelers connected, the new computer incorporates Sony’s SmartWi technology, so you can toggle between wireless WWAN, LAN and Bluetooth technology for convenient access to the Internet and e-mail.
WLAN is also available for Wi-Fi connections at home, office or hotspots; Bluetooth technology for peripherals; or WWAN for access to Cingular’s nationwide EDGE network, which allows you to connect to the Internet virtually anywhere there is cellular coverage.
The UX model also incorporates two built-in cameras -- one in front for VoIP communication for on-the-go video conferencing and another located on the back for taking photos. A VGA adapter is included to connect the PC to a projector, making it easy to share presentations and spreadsheets with a group.
The VAIO UX PC comes equipped with an integrated biometrics fingerprint sensor, so you do not have to remember passwords. Incorporated G-Sensor shock protection has been added to protect the unit’s hard drive and reduces the risk of data loss should it be dropped.
For added convenience, a docking station with three 2.0 USB ports, Ethernet, VGA, iLink IEEE-1394 interface and an AV output comes with the unit, making it easy to connect to peripherals like a full-sized keyboard, display and speakers when back in the office or at home.