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From the top: battery pack, CD-ROM and a floppy disk drive
While the quality was almost a good enough reason in itself for forking out the money to buy the Vaio, it had another killer feature — a slot for add-ins.
The Vaio was not one laptop, but a four-in-one laptop. The bottom left side (looking forward) of the system carried most of the electronics and the hard disk drive as well as a power pack.
The right-hand side carried a space where you could put in a floppy disk drive, or a CD-ROM, or another spare battery pack for those long meetings or a simple spacer to make the unit lighter.
This was a neat feature since it made the system so much more flexible. On top of that, I found that if I wanted to I could pile everything into my rucksack to take on jobs when I might need to use everything.
An e-book from the 90s which still looks smart
No system is perfect, and in that respect the Sony Vaio was no exception but it was close enough for me. It was fun too as you could play games with it but then, back in 1998 there was also Glassbook Reader, one of the first e-book systems.
That is another thing that does not look out of place today. In its day, Glassbook was a state-of-the-art e-book reader, but it still compares favourably with anything today.
In fact, when I powered up Glassbook it struck me that next to the modern competition it makes the Kindle look flimsy and, dare I say, cheap. In comparison, Glassbook makes the text look stylish.
As with the Kindle, the text can be set at any size you like from the smallest to the largest. Of course, it is so much easier to set it up using a proper keyboard rather than the stuff today which seems to be made for people with small fingers only.
And yes, the Kindle looks like what it is, a handy but cheap device. My Sony ebook has packed up now after 10 years service but that, while bulky, again looked smart. Why is "cheap" the only option these days?
The back of the unit is not short of connections but with connection unit the options doubled
Like many companies at that time, Sony was not sure which of the many emerging standards in hardware design would prevail so, the answer it came to was to try and cover them all.
Look at the slots here which, from left to right, are: DC-in, serial connection for mouse or keyboard, I/O connector, connection for monitor, infrared port on top of a docking station, printer port, an early model USB connector and a video-out connector.
If that was not enough you could buy a docking unit that would fit underneath to provide more ports. These were: a joystick connector, a connection for a microphone, another line-in connection, a line-out connection, an IEEE 1394 interface, a SCSI connector and an Ethernet connector.
Considering how compact the Sony Vaio was for its day, the connecting possibilities were enormous.