PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

A screw loose..?
June 2001

Regulars will recall I bought a Sony Vaio notebook PC last year in a fit of impatience to see if portable digital video was at last really for real. There I was, trapped in Tottenham court road with the Amex card and a lust for portable video-compatible computing. I was suckered by a Vaio Z600E and a whole heap of neat bits including the lovely PC100a DV camera/recorder. It was love at first swipe.

I quickly learned that this was a triumph of style over function, and that my Vaio with its 25 minute (both sense of that word) battery was going to be a source of much frustration. I tried to warn you all, but several people I know also bought Sony Vaios (God, they do look lovely, and you trust that Sony brand, don’t you..?)

The Sony support website list a load of numbers that are only available Monday to Friday 9-5. As ever, I wanted to get support at a weekend – you know that time of the week when anyone will sell you anything but no one wants to know anything about customer support.

In fact, I now know what happened to that bloke after Hannibal fried and ate his brain – Sony gave him a job creating web sites. What a series of global mazes they have managed to produce around their name and brand. The support website at is possibly one the most pointless mazes of blather you will ever see anywhere; it’s hot on trying you sell you stuff directly (are you paying attention all you Sony dealers..?) but I guess if I had a brand like Sony, I’d be tempted to milk it for all its worth. After all, pretty much all that any Sony can do is switch sell to another brand with a bigger margin since Sony is so well exposed and the prices are so consistent.

The vaio web site is also rather slow. In fact, it’s dreadfully slow, a truly awful effort. But I eventually found the keyword search, and told it some screws were missing. This is what the website said:

·         Under the terms and conditions of your guarantee, physical damage is considered out of warranty. Please contact VAIO Link for further information concerning out of warranty repairs.

Well, I’ll be buggered. Although it appears I won’t be “screwed” by Sony, who make a system where the screws fall out (and I really don’t carry it around much – it’s a standing joke around here that the wretched thing sits on the corner of my desk most of the time.

And I would like to add that after my initial tirade on the non-standardness of the DV interface and other DV editing software, I have never had a satisfactory response to the matter of the Vaio’s non-standard IEE1384 input to Premiere.

In case you find yourself out of work as a result of your notebook having let you down, the Sony web site also invites job applications, and there is this rousing message awaiting you:

“Making a revolution means mobilising all your available forces and resources, concentrating all your talents and abilities, with all the strength of your convictions. All directed towards that one, absolute objective: a better society and a better quality of life.”

What a load of Old Bollocks. Shame on you Sony. All I wanted to do was to order 4 spare screws because you can’t make a notebook where the screws don’t randomly drop out, and you talk of a better quality of life ..? Spare me.

Now, here’s some free consultancy Sony – stick to making neat video cameras and stuff like that. The Vaio project is a brave attempt at creating a business that uses the web for most support and information, but the maze of sites you have created are hopelessly scrambled with no sensible navigation. And if you want to be the complete “virtual brand” then offer 7x24x365 human support. What’s the chance that anyone who needs support on a computer is de facto prevented from accessing the web..?

The web efforts contain a grotesque excess of style and a sad lack of function. Forget frames, forget Java – just get something that hangs together and works consistently first. And don’t abandon the phones at 5pm, please.