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Cast away with Crusoe
Краткое содержание статьи: The Sony Vaio Picturebook/C1VE Notebook shows a different approach to mobile computing with the Transmeta Crusoe TM5600, a built-in camera and a total weight of less than 1kg/2.2lbs. Is this tiny notebook worth its big price tag?

Cast away with Crusoe

Редакция THG,  15 февраля 2001
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Final Thoughts

What I like

  • The weight of <1kg, 2.2lbs in combination with the performance is impressive.
  • The built-in camera is a great feature.

What I don't like

  • The notebook arrived without any external drive such as a DVD/CD-ROM or a floppy drive. For a single spindle solution with a price of $2000, it should come with at least one external drive or a PCMCIA LAN card with drivers installed.
  • For the same price you can get a full featured 2 or 3 spindle solution with much better performance.


The designers of the former Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha or Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Company (now called Sony) had the courage to try something new. The Pentium II CPU of the old C1 Picturebook had to be replaced, and Sony gave Transmeta's Crusoe an opportunity in the sub-notebook segment. Users of such a tiny mobile device use it to run their regular desktop software and check emails while away from the office. A PDA display is too tiny for most tasks, and a 3-spindle notebook is too heavy. When the mobile warrior returns to his/her office, the data is synched with the desktop PC. But there is a small problem to this. Unless you buy a PCMCIA network card you will have to use the PCMCIA modem to transfer the data. I sadly missed an infrared port.

When you unpack the Sony C1V notebook for the first time, you wonder, "How do I transfer my data with this?" There is no floppy drive, no DVD/CD and no LAN. Sony ships a PCMCIA 56k modem with the notebook, but have you ever tried installing Office via modem? Third party devices can be attached via PCMCIA or USB port, but how do I install the driver for the new device? My friend Gordon sent me a USB floppy drive from Mitsumi. This device was recognized by WindowsME and didn't require an additional driver. With this I was able to install a PCMCIA network card and the Pockey drive that Patrick reviewed recently. However for a price of $2000 there should be at least an external CD-ROM shipped with the unit. Maybe Sony speculates that users will simply buy the additional drive, especially if they want to have a chance of using the recovery CDs.

From an engineering point of view the C1V has an adorable design. The lid switch is underneath the hinge cover and a stable LCB back cover protects the display, but I sadly missed a latch to open the notebook.

When you take a look at the Sysmark results you wonder about the poor performance. There are two drawbacks in the system: the slow Hitachi HDD and the memory interface. Sony implemented the 100MHz SDRAM design, while the Transmeta TM5600 offers up to 133MHz DDR SDRAM (Marketing mode on: "266MHz DDR/PC2100"). Transmeta claims that this improves the performance of the CPU and the complete system. Unfortunately we were not able to change the memory to a different speed or technology. Information from Transmeta about its TM5600 is limited to a seven-page data sheet consisting mostly of marketing blurb and very little data. A small hint for Transmeta: have a look at: developer.intel.com You can find all data including errata of Intel products online.

A built-in camera and iLink are nice features, but don't try non-linear video processing with this underpowered system. It's a sub-notebook and not a high-end desktop PC.

The Sony C1V Series notebook is fast compared to a PDA and pretty poor compared to a 'real' notebook. Its price, however, is not in between the two, but in the midst of the notebook pricing scale.


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