SONY knew it had to up its game for the new range of Vaio laptops. It’s consumer division is struggling and those pesky people at Apple have just launched another shiny new device carved out of a single block of solid gold, featuring a beacon like the Bat Sign that broadcasts into space the fact that you own a Mac.
So, rather than use the same tired, downtrodden designers, Sony employed a shaman to drink the nectar of forbidden roots, visit the astral plane, experience the world as single dancing beam of consciousness, and construct the new range while in a transcendental state of meditative rapture.
Writhing in the sand, naked but for a loin-cloth, the shaman saw coloured lights rushing towards the edges of his vision. Sony, knowing that the shaman was wise, painted their new C Series bright green and orange and made them glow (with “audacious” light emitting technology, according to the press release). The result is a laptop that looks like it’s constructed from the same material as the plastic stars I used to stick on my ceiling as a child (although, thankfully, you can also get them in a more sensible black or white).
Sony’s showcase event, at the Century Club in Soho, was decked out like a trendy living room. But the C Series was confined to a black velvet box, string drapes (“like something from a Bangkok brothel” according to one technology hack) separating it from the outside world. Inside its box, the C Series shimmered self-consciously to itself, screen turned to face the wall as if it was too embarrassed to make eye contact. Handily, the C Series comes with a splash-proof rubber skin, presumably with the thought in mind that only a dribbling loon would buy a luminous green laptop.
In its favour, for a mid-range product, it kicks like a mule, incorporating Intel’s latest chips and packing 4GB of Ram. But at £750 it’s on the steep side, especially for something that looks like a squashed My Little Pony.
Then there is the F Series 3D laptop, also seemingly the product of the mind of a mystical shaman. After you slide on the giant polarising glasses (which even Bono would be ashamed of) the picture quality is incredible. It’s fast beyond your wildest dreams. The problem is, up close, it looks less like a laptop than a compact garden shed. Moving it should come with a safety warning. And a winch. It’s like the car designed by Homer in the Simpsons – it packs in so much it no longer fulfils its basic purpose, i.e. being able to put it on your lap.
Pick of the new Vaios is the S Series, a lightweight, premium laptop that comes in sensible colours (apart from the sherbet pink version) and will outpace almost every other off-the-shelf laptop out there. Like the monochrome versions of the C Series, it looks like a normal, solid laptop. But, conversely, this is also its downfall. Sony got it wrong with the pulsating green C Series and the giant 3D shed. But, if it wants to be a force in the laptop business, it’s still going to need a little bit of magic.
INAMO | HIGH TECH EATING
• If your life is spent gazing into the mists of cyber space, why break off for dinner? At Inamo you order your meal from icons beamed onto your table, doing away with the antiquated concept of waiters. Images of your food are projected onto your plate before you order. You can change the tablecloth to suit your mood (a tranquil beach, a space-scape). You can even play games or check the tube map. The pan-Asian food is delicious and the cocktails are first class. A meal for two will set you back around £70 a head. Inamo, 4-12 Lower Regent Street, 020 7104 2040.