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Friday 15 August 2003

Small and perfectly formed [am]

Small, compact and perfectly formed, that's me. Well, strictly speaking, unless I get put in a car-crusher or have an attack of Fahey-virus (clinical symptoms; dramatic loss of body mass, tendency to slur after 122 grams of beer, frequent tenderness below the belt area) then I'm referring, of course, to my current loadout of my latest purchase (Jebus forgive me) - a spanko 10.4 inched centrino'd Sony TR1MP.
'Buy now pay later Mr Johnson' said the pe0n in Dixons, Gatwick airport. 'Stop talking dirty you slut and gimme one' said I. Bish, bash and slightly later bosh, I had a saving of some 300 quid off list price and the credit equivalent of the promise of a dose of clap next August.
So having spent a first week with it - here's the blog of first impressions.
For a while I had been bleating in the channel about how I wanted to get a small sub-notebook mostly for ultra-portable word processing, a little music, some wireless net access, a change of personality and a facelift. Despite a minor wobble on channel the other day post-purchase where I was slightly unsure if the TR1MP wasn't too small, I have come to the conclusion it's perfect for what I wanted and given myself a slap for wishing for the impossible. Truth be told I was lusting after portability but also huge mobile gaming performance which, let's face it, I do not need and moreover does not exist in this degree of trade-off. As I said to The Lurker on the channel the other day, this thing does what it does and does it damn well and it's not something else. In other words, if you say you want a cat, go buy a cat and come home to say 'that's a good looking cat', then don't expect to put a saddle on it and herd cows.
So - impressions? Well as the carrot-crunching ten stone weakling I am, it was important to me that the thing was space economical and easily portable. Well the TR1MP nails that down cold. At 10.4 inch screen and thin centrino profile it's smaller than an a4 book. Oh yeah. They called it a TR1MP - very imaginative. Sometimes the ubiquitous Vaio branding (more of which later) can get a bit over-itself. Nut this is not the sort of thing, believe me, which you would typically associate with a Vaio. Anyhoo - on with the blog.
So first impressions part 2 - Styling:- Next to certain titanium macs, this has to be one of the best looking laptops I've ever seen. I thought from photos that the case was in some rather perplexing formica white but in reality, it's a very attractive white-silver metal. It may not stop literally stop traffic, but it's certainly got an 'ooh' out of every single person who's come to my office. I have brokers who could buy this thing out of petty cash salivating out of all dignity and more than one female broker has said 'wow you could just slip that into a handbag and go'. Now granted, these are the sort of girls who'd probably pack a Magnum .50 rather than a Lady Remington .22 but they're more or less right. It's that small. The keyboard, also white, is quite flat in travel but to my fingers is significantly better than most of the loose laptop keyboards I've been trying out in the shops. The control key is where it is supposed to be, not parked in some outpost and because of the overall size, the wrist wrests are simply heel of the palm rests rather than half your arm which suits me and also provides a tactile way of keeping the whole thing anchored on bumpy train rides. When it comes to styling, Sony have got this tapped - of the five brokers who saw it and could afford it like that, five of them said they wanted one.
Next - The screen. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Sony, they have been doing something terribly terribly right in the basement of their development dungeons. Something so right and so simply lush that old man Kogyo would be chortling so hard over his rice bowl that there'd be wasabi all over the place. The technology which Rabido was blogging about the other day briefly and is called 'Black Onyx' is only available on 3 lappies to date. Now aside from the fact that Black Onyx sounds like a be-affroed porn star or some tight-trousered funk band, it translates into a screen that when it's off looks simply just the best looking erm black ever. Sounds stupid. Is true. Like a couple of clan members I guess. But it just is - explain that. Now clearly, looking at blank screens in the off position has limited appeal so on bootup it is worth reporting that it then transforms into a fantastically vibrant and sharp picture. The quality on DVD playback or Photoshop Elements (which comes bundled) is simply superb and is really a different kettle of fish from almost any other laptop I've seen. Only equivalent would, again, be monster expensive G4 Macs. 'Ooh' go the none-techy visitors to my office. 'Splooge' go the techy ones. They're both right. What together with the best-in-class screen on my iPaq 1910, I have inadvertantly become a bit of a screen-queen. And I like it. Although the screen estate is small, that was entirely the point of going for something like this and boy does it do what it does well.
So what to the meat and bones? It's a Centrino load-out with everything under the sun. The 900hz Pentium M is showing fantastic battery life at this point - getting 4+ hours in real-life - they claim 5+ in the spec and the battery icon on full charge promises 6. Put it this way - I charge at work, use all evening wireless and there's still enough for half an hour on the train in the morning and trawling for hotspots over a cappuccino.
USB2 ports? Check. Firewire? Check. Bluetooth? Yup. Wireless Lan? Oh yes and it works to thank you very much missus with the signal marked as excellent all over my house and garden. Both can be activated by a nice little slidey switch on the front edge of the machine which is one of many nice touches. Now, as a slight diversion, I may be preaching to the semi-converted reading this blog (well almost certainly the semi-sentient) but I can't say how impressed I've been with the wireless thang and particularly Lurks and Slim's recommendation of a netgear dg842m router. It was ridiculously easy to set up and I absolutely love being able to plonk myself down on a sofa with this sitting on my lap and do a little surfing while watching telly / doing some writing etc. Responsiveness on my desktops also seems sharper.
Anyway, continuingĂ‚….Memory Stick slot? Well yes but nevermind it's Sony and it's not like they pretend they don't want to sell you everything interconnected from cradle to grave so you just go with it. And then ignore it. And what else - oh well there's the integrated 370k pixel motion eye camera for stills and video conferencing. The audio speaker is weak but sound is really excellent through the headphone sockets. There's also external mic plug ins and an integrated cdrw-dvd player which is amazing considering how small the chassis is and burns at 4x so fine. There's a Type II card slot, it makes your bed, feeds you chilled beer and arranges for a horde of Buzby Berkley girls to can-can across your den. This thing has a shedload on board. Software bundle is a mix of the useful - like the Photoshop Elements and the Sony bundled total entertainment stuff including a bit of a weird thing called Sonic Stage which as far as I can work out thinks that you want to ignore netjuke et al but only by encrypting your burned cd's into a system which is incapable of distributing the copies to anything else that is not Sonic Stage. It's dressed up as security. To me it sounds like self-justifying monopoly. Anyway the freebies are just that (link to Everquest anyone???) so you bash on Office (thank you work), mIRC, winamp, a few bits and bobs and you're happier than Spiro in a bar.
So finally is there an urk factor? Well the screen estate is small but you basically fiddle with the dpi and use fullscreen and minimal menus. Second nature in a week and it's really ace thereafter. The larger urk generically is 'it's a Vaio' so reputationally there's a healthy level of suspicion with reliability and fall-apartability. Well we'll see. I'd have to say this is a markedly different kettle of fish from the two Vaio's my parents have (yes sigh) and I am hopeful for the future. It's clearly pitched at the frequent traveller and has been built, I think looking at it, with a clear concession to that. It's more pro than any Vaio I've seen by a long way. It's sturdy, it's cool and it's the best looking pc laptop I've seen which does everything I wanted it to. Apart from the impossible like high rate fps gaming and stuff. But as I said before, it's not made for it.
So in summary? Well, leaving aside the impossible, as I said to Kate Moss only the other day, you can feel pretty damn good about making do with a very hot little number in the here and now. You aren't going to be shouting 'look at my TR1MP' but you'll get a fair few looks and feel pretty good whopping it out whenever you like for an instant display of leetness. And that my friends, is the true spirit of Electric DeathĂ‚….


  1. Links, pictures, anything? Cunt!

  2. The TR1 (TR1MP is the Euro model, Japan is TR1/P, US is TR1A) is probably the best selling machine we've (Micro 'Expensive' Anvika) had in this chassis design. The only reason I plumped for the Z1 (it's the A4 version of the TR1 effectively) is that I use a lot of excel at work and the SXGA+ 1400x1050 Res. on a 14.1' screen is a perfect fit. Apart from that I would've gone for the TR1MP easily, as there are virtually no sacrifices in ports, hdd etc.. There is a lovelerly Panasonic W2 Toughbook(Sacrilege! I Hear) coming out, which is almost the same as the TR1MP but no Bluetooth (Although the drive system is pukka) Specs. Certainly at the moment the TR1MP is the cream of the crop. BTW, I'd say buying from a Dixons Airport Store is probably the best way to buy a notebook ATM. The prices they sell at are below my costs. P.S get a 512MB / 256MB Memory upgrade, The TR1s HDD is a 1.8' Platt!er drive so you really don't want to use VFS if you can avoid it.

  3. Right Guard! You spray on queer.
    Oh the lady's makeup compact compooter is nice though.