VAIO laptops are back, but they're not your grandfather's VAIO, so to speak. But even with new management, a new brand of its own, and the absence of Sony, VAIO's new laptop models, two new VAIO Pros and a new VAIO Fit, won't be giving you any form of culture shock, as they unabashedly look exactly like your grandfather's VAIO.
When Sony called it quits in the PC market, it sold off its venerable VAIO business to a Japanese company that specializes in divesting companies of unwanted divisions and turning them into standalone businesses. The culmination of that process is presented today, with the launching of VAIO Inc as an independent and "small" PC maker, the setting up of its own cozy home on the Web, and the launch of the VAIO Pro 11, the VAIO Pro 13, and the VAIO Fit 15E.
While these three laptops are the first to bear VAIO's sole brand, with any Sony labels, they unambiguously still bear the Sony-era look and feel. In fact, they are almost indistinguishable from the previous VAIO Pros and VAIO Fits. The laptops even sport Sony's Triluminos display technology, which is always a good thing for such devices. The VAIO Fit 15E costs ¥100,000 ($986), the VAIO Pro 11 starts at ¥120,000 ($1,180) and the VAIO Pro 13 has a price tag of ¥130,000 ($1,280). Interestingly, all three are available from Sony's online store, which is still part of the transition phase between the two companies.
This first batch of new VAIO devices might not be the innovation that some might be looking forward to, but its well in line with the fledgling company's preliminary goals. They are going for "productivity", "creativity", and "ease of use", and probably nothing says those better than a tried and tested design. It is also practical, considering that the company doesn't exactly have the resources of Sony and, at the same time, has the burden of carrying on the legacy of the VAIO brand. It would probably be too risky for it to diverge too far from what the market has been used to.
Once they get past that maiden voyage, however, the possibilities might be endless. The company has only made vague PR-like statements about its vision, but we have yet to see its real unique imprint in future devices. And then there is the question of availability. The new VAIO was set up to cater particularly to the Japanese market and it remains unknown whether it will ever reach out to an global audience that might be longing for the VAIO name already.