| Sony's VAIO Triggers Tiny Notebook PC Boom: Designer
June 18, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Sony's "VAIO Note 505" (product name: PCG-5
05) series became the trigger for the B5-size notebook PC boom.
|Teiyu Goto, the chief art director of Interaction Design Department
of Sony's Creative Center, talked with BizTech's editorial staff
about the external appearance and design of the series.
Sony's PCG-505 series has been a hit product and been much talked
about since its release in November 1997 for its usability and
fresh external appearance. Despite the existing PC market
sluggishness, the 505 series is still maintaining its 10,000-unit a
month shipping pace.
"The 505 series was the chance to bring up the B5-notebook PC market
," one PC manufacturer said, and there are many PC makers who are
conscious of the 505 series.
For the VAIO series, Goto was in charge of designing the mini-towers
(PCV-T700/500 series), A4-size notebook PCs (PCG-700 series) and 50
5 series. He has also designed TVs and PlayStations for video games
in the past.
BizTech: What is your design concept for
the VAIO note 505 series?
Goto: A notebook PC that college students
can carry under the arm, walking groovy and cheerfully, was the
concept. It is so much fun to have it, that the users want to dash
out of their rooms with it.
Sony normally is a follower in the PC industry. So we wanted to
release a more enjoyable PC that no other makers are producing.
BizTech: How did you decide the trade color, purple?
Goto: It's my favorite color. Of course, we chose it for the visual
effect to soften the stiffness of hardware as well.
The very first product for the VAIO series was a mini-tower type PC.
Seeking the color that can fit into both offices and homes, we
selected gray as the base color and added purple as an accent color
. As you know, we adopted this color scheme for the notebooks.
Considering the coordination with the mini
-towers, we used the same color tone. This is the initial design,
"Version 0" of VAIO notebooks. (See chart 2) The configuration ultimately became like this because we combined
straight lines and curves.
Purple is a very popular color in the United States. In fact, many
home appliances are made with this color. This color is very
fashionable and neutral too. Also violet (purple) and VAIO make
puns. (Note by the editorial dept.: VAIO is an abbreviation for
Video Audio Integrated Operation.)
In Japan also, purple is recognized for its noble image. Moreover,
we needed to select the color to express originality. We excluded
the colors already given fixed images, for example, green for Acer,
blue for IBM, and red for Compaq.
The mockup that we made in the early stage
of the B5-file size notebook plan was with darker purple. (See chart 3) But in the actual production, a
lighter color was chosen to give a pleasant feeling and mobility.
The same color of purple, but with a different brightness and
chroma, are used per part, for example, inside and outside of the
body, batteries and touch pads. This is to bring an effect to make
the product look more compact. If a solid color were used, it would
BizTech: Is the metallic feeling by magnesium alloy also a part of
Goto: No, it isn't. To make the notebook PC groovy and to be carried
under the arm, we needed to make the body thin but strong at the
same time. Therefore, we adopted magnesium alloy. The heat
radiation effect was also a reason.
The metallic feeling might make it look fresh and feel good, but
they are only secondary elements. If we were to use magnesium alloy
for a design purpose, we would have only used it in the liquid
-crystal display (LCD) cover portion. It brings the cost up if all
four sides used it.
BizTech: The mockup is slightly smaller, isn't it? Did you
compromise on the design in order to come closer to the mockup size
Goto: If we are to thoroughly review the matter, it will be the VAIO
logo at the LCD cover portion. We actually wanted it with caved-in
letters. But to keep the current thinness, we were told it would be
impossible to have letters caved in.
We still did not want loose the concept "thin and groovy notebook".
If the letters make it thicker, it does not fulfill our aim.
Understanding the circumstance, we changed the letters to printed
ones. The floppy disk and CD-ROM drives have caved-in letters
BizTech: Other makers seem to output new products conscious of the 5
05 series. Do you foresee the release of some look-alike products?
Goto: Designers are facing a hard time now since many makers are
thinking that design is more critical for PCs. Size and performance
will not make much difference, so they want to think out new
designs. However, if they only imitate Sony's design, they cannot
create originals. So, designers' sense and abilities will be tested
and will become more important.
I myself will also experience harder times from now. I am fully
satisfied with the design for the 505 series, and am very pleased
to know that the design had such an impact.
This is the first time in my 21-year work in design that I have ever
received such public response. Because of the design, I know it
will be difficult to surpass it. But it is the zest of design work
too. I want to keep challenging myself in creating designs greater
than of the 505 series.
BizTech: Are you using a VAIO notebook PC yourself?
Goto: You bet I am. I am a heavy user (an enthusiast) about the 505
series. You can say, it is always Goto if you see a man working
with a VAIO on the last train. I took time myself to buy a VAIO at
It is a lot of fun using PCs you designed yourself. I also like the
touch of VAIO, I can't help patting them.
Chart 1: Teiyu Goto (with VAIO Note 505)
Chief art director
of Sony Corp.
(return to news)
Chart 2: The initial design "version 0"
(return to news)
Chart 3: Two colored mockups
(return to news)
Portable PCs Priced Less
Than US$2,000 Become More Popular
PC Makers to Counter Sony in Summer Sales
Sharp to Sell Thin Notebook PCs to Rival Sony's
(BizTech Editorial Dept.)