The Other Side: Sony takes to the street

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Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2001, 18:25
Category: Archive

Despite a respectable effort by Sony to build hype around its Vaio R505 laptop in a special “test drive” in front of Grand Central Station here in New York, Apple’s Titanium stole the show again — and it didn’t even have to show up.

Despite a respectable effort by Sony to build hype around its Vaio R505 laptop in a special “test drive” in front of Grand Central Station here in New York, Apple’s Titanium stole the show again — and it didn’t even have to show up.

Sony’s event last week was pretty cool in concept: as I walked up Park Ave. towards Grand Central, I noticed “Test Drive the Vaio: we’re parked nearby.” Sure enough, Sony reps were parked in a Sony-purple Jeep Wrangler right in the street with four laptops on display. Cool enough handout, too: foldable credit-card size maps of the NYC Subway, up-to-date including dramatic changes to the B/D/Q lines last month, and on the back, a scratch-off for a chance to win a Vaio or a MetroCard.

So, why not stop and check out the competition, I figured. The laptops are slim enough, anyway, although with the advent of the new iBook and PowerBook, they certainly aren’t anything extraordinary. After standing a moment, a rep asked me if I wanted to see the new systems, and proceeded to (yawn) demo the jog wheel. Not the most thrilling way to demo a computer. As I waited for something more interesting, the words “PowerBook G4″ drifted across the back of the Jeep, in the context of some sort of comparison. I mistook the rep to be saying the PIII/750- and Celeron/650-based Sony was faster than the G4, or some such claim.

Then I listened more closely. A woman on the street was longing for the Titanium PowerBook. “Now that Titanium,” she said, “that’s a work of art.” And — did I hear this right — the person in the Sony shirt was agreeing? Apparently the Sony rep in question [whose identity I will conceal] is an Apple aficionado and was extolling the virtues of the Titanium. But, said the woman, her budget was more in the sub-$1500 range, hence she was planning on something like the Sony. So the Sony person suggested the new iBook, and all three of us got in a discussion of how the Apple machines are more powerful and more beautiful machines.

So, whoever you are, nice to see you’ve inflitrated the enemy lines — and (presumably) gotten away with it! And, Sony — er, thanks for the new subway map; it’s coming in handy!

By the way, the R505 suffers from the same problem as previous slim Sony models: if you want a CD/DVD/CD-RW drive, you have to add a bulky, heavy, and expensive ($399 and up!) “SlimDock.” Thanks to the new iBook and PowerBook, Apple has clearly separated its systems in performance, value, and functionality/looks. Just in case you were wondering. Now if Apple will just upgrade the TiBook with Mobile nVidia and a DVD/CD-RW combo drive…

Broadcasting as usual from Metro North Railroad; tune in next time!

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