A mid-2003 desktop PC that functions as a media center of sorts, and features dual optical drives (CD burner with a DVD reader) and remote control with an IR receiver. Some models featured an analog TV tuner and a dial-up modem fitted to one of the PCI slots.
Our VAIO journey starts with the Recovery Wizard, which takes us through the formatting process.
Remarkably it looks like a Windows 2000 environment.
The Sony-branded OOBE, which presents the opportunity to register with Sony and Microsoft.
Norton Internet Security comes bundled with the laptop which provides virus protection for a year since it is activated, along with a firewall. Norton also integrates itself into Internet Explorer, providing popup protection. It also appears within Windows Explorer itself.
After the first bootup, we are prompted to insert one of the VAIO recovery disks, these are tied to the machine and will not work inside a virtual environment, and rely on different copy protection
Interesting, Norton seems to be able to pickup and download a few updates, considering this product is nearing 20 years old that’s quite impressive. But I doubt these cover the latest virus definitions, Norton possibly still operates the server that holds these aged definition updates.
There are a few programs missing since the final part of the recovery wizard specifically checks that you are running on a Sony VAIO PC. I wonder if this checks for the exact model, or if there is just the Sony string in the BIOS, would this work for other Sony models?
SonicStage was the software used to manage and playback Sony’s ATARC format audio, which was their own property audio format that was initially used on the first MiniDisc models, and was later used for their Walkman digital music players. ATARC was more efficient than MP2 and MP3 at higher bitrates but compared less with AAC or WMA. ATARC was also only supported on Sony products, and even then not all of their electronics supported it, Sony Ericsson phones in Europe had no support for ATRAC, and neither did the first PlayStation or the PlayStation 2, with the PS3 introducing support for the codec.
SonicStage was very similar to iTunes in concept and acted as a way to play purchased songs from Sony’s CONNECT store. As these files were protected by DRM, an account and correct authorization was required to playback the songs purchased by the user. SonicStage could also sync and transfer songs to supported Walkman players, and only Walkman players.
This was during a dark period of time where record companies insisted that much purchases online had to be digitally protected using some form of DRM, which meant purchasing music from one vendor would mean you could only play that track on software or a device that the vendor had support for. This meant music purchased from iTunes could not be played back on a Walkman or a Microsoft PlaysForSure device without burning it to a CD, then reimporting it as MP3 or whichever format the program and device supported, basically the analog hole.
Was it any wonder people turned to piracy?
DRM free music stores later came about, and many vendors eventually started offering DRM free downloads for their songs and all was well. Then the music industry went one step further and insisted streaming was the next best thing, meaning you no longer owned or had direct access to music, instead of being steamed from the cloud for a monthly fee.
As for Sony, the CONNECT store closed down in 2008, and Sonic Stage was discontinued and replaced a few years later with MediaGo, which was mainly intended for the Sony PSP but could work with compatible Walkman devices. Sony would later try again in the music market with Quircity, a streaming playroom before being rebranded to PlayStation Music, and then been killed off in favor of Spotify on the PS4.
For a company that has its own major record label, Sony does suck with online music services.
Screensavers & Wallpapers
Theirs a VAIO screensaver bundled which is a bunch of stock photos taken with a few transition effect applied, with stock music being placed in the background.
You can of course customize it with your own photos, or memes if that is more your thing.
Various backgrounds, these would blend in with the laptop design and supported a variety of resolutions (whilst the internal LCD would use its optimal resolution, Sony provided different wallpaper resolution’s in the event you connect an external monitor.
Appears to be a creative photo editing application where you can import photos from a digital camera (maybe a Sony CyberShot camera) and apply effects or add clip-art to them. You then have the option of printing these out or attaching them as an email. you can also create greeting cards with this, so it acts similar to Microsoft Publisher in a way,
Netscape browser version 6, a popular alternative browser (Didn’t Microsoft discourage OEM’s from doing this? Sony clearly didn’t give a fuck)
I think this is some sort of last.fm service from before its time, where it will organize and find similar artists depending on the ones currently in your library, whilst organizing your current music collection. This no longer works and requires a connection to a server that is long since defunct. It sort of similar to Apple Genius playlists.
Memory Stick Formater
Formats a Sony Memory Stick, nuff said. Not sure why you can’t do this in Windows Explorer, possibly due to Magic Gate encryption?
Software that Sony loved to bundle with their VAIO systems, is some sort of account and spending management software.
An advert for AOL, looks a bit basic for 2003 standards.
Help & Support
Sony’s help center branding