VAIO Is Back and Gunning for Apple
Ty Takayanagi, senior product marketing professional at VAIO, is confident his company has developed a product that will enable it to go head-to-head with Apple. For its first foray back into the U.S. market following Sony’s selloff to Japanese Industrial Partners in 2014, VAIO has shed its old shotgun approach to marketing – reinventing itself into a leaner, more focused manufacturer of top-of-the-line equipment.
Its first offering, the VAIO Z Canvas, is a powerful Windows tablet designed for what Takayanagi describes as “the creators” – photographers, illustrators, animators, architects, and just about anyone else who makes their living using their creativity.
“This industry has been dominated by Apple for many years,” Takayanagi said, “and there’s really nothing on the Windows side that can compete with Apple in terms of product offering for creators.”
To that end, VAIO is betting it can tap into a potentially lucrative consumer base: those seeking the kind of performance and mobility typically afforded to MacBook Pro users, but in a Windows environment.
The high-end VAIO Z Canvas is powered by an Intel Core i7-4770HQ processor, which Takayanagi called “a very powerful processor for a notebook PC.” According to Takayanagi, high performance was a design requirement from the get-go, but it was a decision not without its challenges.
“To incorporate such a powerful processor was a real engineering feat, because along with a more powerful CPU comes limited battery life and cooling issues,” Takayanagi said. To address these issues, VAIO miniaturized the motherboard to make space for three cooling fans and a larger, embedded battery.
Additionally, VAIO added a wide-angle display in 2560×1704 HD resolution and a stylus with 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. A button that disables the touchscreen but still allows stylus input was also added, as was a button that can be programmed to launch specific applications. Last but not least was the inclusion of numerous ports – two USB slots, HDMI out, display out, LAN input, and a full-size SD card slot – intended to eliminate the need by users to carry along a variety of adapters and dongles.
Takayanagi said VAIO enlisted the opinions of creative professionals in a collaborative effort, incorporating their feedback to develop a tailor-made product replete with features that may go entirely overlooked – including three fans that emit different sound frequencies, effectively canceling each other out.
This attention to detail is the key Takayanagi hopes will be the determining factor in the success of the VAIO Z Canvas, which retails at $2,199 for the base model and tops out at $3,099 for the fully loaded version, which packs 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD storage.
Working with limited distribution (the Z Canvas is sold directly from VAIO’s web store and through Microsoft Stores only), Takayanagi said his company is hopeful the attention to detail and quality of the product will sell on its merits.
“There are about two million creative professionals living in the U.S. and Canada,” he said. “That’s a pretty large market, and those are the people we are specifically targeting.”