Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 8th Nov 2016 12:10 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

A few weeks ago I noticed some foreign exchange students at my university who were huddled around a Panasonic laptop. This wasn't one of the Toughbook models that are sold in the US, but a newer Japanese model. Seeing this rare laptop out in the wild combined with the recent wailing and gnashing of teeth concerning the MacBook Pro piqued my interest in the current Japanese PC market.

It really feels like the Japanese electronics industry lost most of its appeal and cachet, with the sector now being lead by American and Chinese companies. I love the design of the Panasonic laptop, though.

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There's no link
by Dr-ROX on Tue 8th Nov 2016 12:13 UTC
Dr-ROX
Member since:
2006-01-03

Link missing in the article.

Reply Score: 1

RE: There's no link
by robojamie on Tue 8th Nov 2016 14:35 UTC in reply to "There's no link"
robojamie Member since:
2005-08-26

Sorry about that. I added a link to the article. Here's the product page (in Japanese): http://ec-club.panasonic.jp/pc/lx/

Reply Score: 1

VAIO WTH?
by winter skies on Tue 8th Nov 2016 12:44 UTC
winter skies
Member since:
2009-08-21

I still have and cherish my 2010 Vaio Z.
It had a dual core i7 620M processor, 8 GB of RAM, dual graphics, and up to 512 GB (or 1 TB?) SSD storage (I had chosen the 500 GB HDD model because it was cheaper).

This new Vaio Z must be the most underwhelming design I have ever seen in a "premium" Vaio model. There's almost nothing "Sony" or "Vaio" in it. I know the brand was sold, but I expected its signature styling to stay.
There's nothing outstanding in its specs either. Same max 8 GB of RAM, slightly better display resolution, integrated-only graphics. I supposed 6 years would entail some evolution. What a disappointment.
Vaio Z was Sony's ultraportable powerhouse before ultrabooks even existed, not just another mid-spec slim laptop with long battery life. This concept has been washed out (I can see some fruit company analogies).

Last year I switched to a 15 inch rMBP and now Apple is disappointing me as well...

Reply Score: 2

RE: VAIO WTH?
by jnemesh on Tue 8th Nov 2016 16:49 UTC in reply to "VAIO WTH?"
jnemesh Member since:
2008-04-08

You DO know, don't you, that it's been YEARS since Sony sold the VAIO name, right? There is nothing "Sony" about your current PC.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: VAIO WTH?
by winter skies on Tue 8th Nov 2016 17:26 UTC in reply to "RE: VAIO WTH?"
winter skies Member since:
2009-08-21

I wrote "I know the brand was sold, but I expected its signature styling to stay" just to avoid this kind of reply.

Sure, there's nothing Sony in Vaio anymore, except that one might be excused for supposing that designers that were part of Vaio division would have been transferred together with other assets to the new company. ;)

Sure, there's nothing Sony about my current PC – as I have just written, I have been using a MacBook Pro for a year.

Edited 2016-11-08 17:28 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: VAIO WTH?
by Athlander on Tue 8th Nov 2016 21:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: VAIO WTH?"
Athlander Member since:
2008-03-10

Maybe English isn't his/her first language.

Reply Score: 2

Liked Toshiba
by tbuskey on Tue 8th Nov 2016 13:39 UTC
tbuskey
Member since:
2014-06-12

I really liked the Toshiba laptops I had back when wireless was new. They had a volume dial, not software on a button. My last one switched to software like every other laptop and that was the end for me .

Reply Score: 1

RE: Liked Toshiba
by Alfman on Tue 8th Nov 2016 17:37 UTC in reply to "Liked Toshiba"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

tbuskey,

I really liked the Toshiba laptops I had back when wireless was new. They had a volume dial, not software on a button. My last one switched to software like every other laptop and that was the end for me.


It's such a tiny detail, yet I hate it when products lack physical volume controls (which is all of them today). IMHO the analog sliders were better. Not because they were "analog", but because the controls were physically manifested.

My current laptop uses FN-Up FN-Down for volume control, which is not so bad but it only works once windows has loaded and you are logged in (it doesn't work at all in linux). Sometimes I want to bootup the laptop quietly at night and there's absolutely nothing I can do to turn down the volume before I log in.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Liked Toshiba
by CaptainN- on Tue 8th Nov 2016 18:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Liked Toshiba"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

These are called tactile input methods in gaming circles. It's interesting to see Nintendo doubling down on tactile input for their new console the Switch.

I think touch screens in cars are dangerous due to the lack of tactile controls. I prefer the physical keys on older style radios and my steering wheel, since I can feel for the buttons, instead of taking my eye off the road.

The same is true for keyboards - which is why we haven't seen successful touch based keyboards yet. Until they can simulate the tactile (viewless) benefits of physical keys with haptics, physical keys are here to stay.

On topic - in many cases it'd be nice to have a wheel control for volume, but I never liked how the controls on my laptop or standalone speakers didn't track to the soft controls in Windows. If they aren't going to be synced (or if they must use crappy third party software) then I'd rather just get rid of the hardware. Also, hat kind of hardware tends to wear out or break faster than the rest of the laptop.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Liked Toshiba
by Alfman on Tue 8th Nov 2016 20:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Liked Toshiba"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

CaptainN-,

On topic - in many cases it'd be nice to have a wheel control for volume, but I never liked how the controls on my laptop or standalone speakers didn't track to the soft controls in Windows. If they aren't going to be synced (or if they must use crappy third party software) then I'd rather just get rid of the hardware. Also, hat kind of hardware tends to wear out or break faster than the rest of the laptop.


Studio equipment handles this by making the controls an output as well as an input.

For anyone not familiar with these midi mixers (skip to 16:00):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fptHiP1lzM4

skip to 4:50:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsgL1TnPIAQ

I've seen this used on some sony stereo equipment too, it works great. Granted it might not be worth the cost for a thing as trivial as volume control on a laptop ;)

Manufacturers like to tout modern touch devices as streamlined & sleek, but frankly to me, a machine without physical controls feels cheap and lacks character.


I know this isn't optimal, but if you really need to quiet your laptop during boot at night - plug in in headphones. ;-)



I'm usually not on my laptop at home, but that's a good idea.

Edited 2016-11-08 20:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Liked Toshiba
by CaptainN- on Tue 8th Nov 2016 18:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Liked Toshiba"
CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

I know this isn't optimal, but if you really need to quiet your laptop during boot at night - plug in in headphones. ;-)

Edited 2016-11-08 18:04 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Liked Toshiba
by Earl C Pottinger on Wed 9th Nov 2016 16:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Liked Toshiba"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

Some of my older laptops had the FN keys or extra keys on the keyboard were controlled by the BIOS, or appears that way to me since if I went to the BIOS screen I could adjust the screen brightness, screen blanking time-out and sound volume thru the BIOS settings.

The beauty of those old machines I could run BeOS and later Haiku-OS and still control functions thru the keyboard that the OS did not have drivers to handle.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Liked Toshiba
by Treza on Tue 8th Nov 2016 21:57 UTC in reply to "Liked Toshiba"
Treza Member since:
2006-01-11

Bought a brand new Toshiba Z20T at low cost this year.

It is quite decent hybrid with correct build quality and a few likeable details for my kind of "professional" use as a good keyboard, VGA and HDMI connectors, a wired Ethernet port, a plain 19V power supply, replaceable M.2 SSD, long lasting battery...

And once you got used to CPUs as the Core-M, you won't tolerate Pentiums and Celerons anymore.

And quite good Linux compatibility !

(VGA is useful both for the gazillions old screens laying around for free and for meeting rooms equipped with VGA video projectors. No dongle !)

Edited 2016-11-08 21:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Liked Toshiba
by JohnnyO on Wed 9th Nov 2016 16:59 UTC in reply to "Liked Toshiba"
JohnnyO Member since:
2009-10-15

I really liked the Toshiba laptops I had back when wireless was new. They had a volume dial, not software on a button.


ThinkPads also had separate volume (and mute buttons) - not too sure about {T,X}x40 and newer.
I have T420s and his buttons work even when OS is frozen.

Also ThinkPad T430 and newer started to remove Home cluster from the keyboard layout ;)

Reply Score: 1

I for one dont miss *most* of them
by ggiunta on Tue 8th Nov 2016 15:03 UTC
ggiunta
Member since:
2006-01-13

Last time I was in Japan was about 3 years ago, but at least around that time, all that I could see where small, cheap local laptops everywhere. Nothing to drool about.

It seems that the japanese market is quite peculiar, compared at least to the EU/US:
- cheap laptops are sold as 'electronic device' for super low prices
- lots of connectors for technologies which where already obsolete over here (vga ports, cdroms), few connectors for more modern standards
- developers are given cheap laptops with small screens and can not complain (eye suicide for a generation is in march)

On a side note: japanese are notoriously risk averse people. They spend lot of time evaluating technology, and always hone it to perfection before accepting it for daily usage. This also means that once they settle in on one tech, they will rarely abandon it before a couple of decades. In 2014, they where still on RHEL 4, and starting to use Symfony 1 for web apps, when the rest of the world was on RHEL 6 and Symfony 2...

Reply Score: 1

Galapagos Effect in action
by Chrispynutt on Tue 8th Nov 2016 16:55 UTC
Chrispynutt
Member since:
2012-03-14

I think what you are seeing, increasingly as every year passes since the bubble burst an increasingly internally facing Japanese market. Its causing more and more of the Galapagos Effect. Where Japan and only Japan uses specifications or makes.

Think Kei Cars and Flip Phones.

It's sad. I am a big fan of Japanese hardware design. When they get it right its wonderful. Some of the old MSX designs by Sony and others are so fun. You see the odd glimpse, like the borderless Sharp phone. I wish they would get their mojo back. Korea and China just don't seem to have the same quirky sensibility. Though Nokia did.

Reply Score: 3

Feeling worried about Japan of late...
by dionicio on Tue 8th Nov 2016 21:32 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

Bright people there. Can a whole Nation be stress burned?

Reply Score: 2

gan17 Member since:
2008-06-03

More a case of the whole nation physically aging. You get a bunch of complacent old geezers heading companies, playing it safe, until their retirement.

Then you have aging corporate values. People there get promoted simply by attaining the "correct" age, or sometimes an incompetent halfwit will get promoted just because he got married, while the competent guy slogs away because he prefers being single.

Add to that an almost non-existent startup/entrepreneurship culture because the old fogeys I mentioned prior are also found heading banks, so they still subscribe to the borg-like collective "zaibatsu" culture of times past, refusing to hand out loans/capital to any "deviant" who refuses to get onboard the corporate slave train.

Reply Score: 3

Hayoo! Member since:
2013-04-13

You mentioned some interesting social issues that I've never heard of. Do you happen to know of books or articles that discuss those issues in depth, preferably in English? I'd love to read them.

Edited 2016-11-09 15:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

winter skies Member since:
2009-08-21

I'm not the original poster, but I'd like to add my 2c saying that I have found "An Introduction to Japanese Society" (3rd edition) by Yoshio Sugimoto to be a very interesting read. ;)

Reply Score: 2

dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

"...because he got married..."

CEO's daughter? ;)

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Can a whole Nation be stress burned?

Replay the so-called election in the states last night and you tell me. ;)

Reply Score: 2

dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

"Replay the so-called election in the states..."

Even Politics -believe me, please- are blood and flesh...

Things went so OUT OF SCRIPT that Ugly Things of USA Policy Hubris showed repeatedly.

Reply Score: 2

Same same but different
by uridium on Tue 8th Nov 2016 22:36 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Yeah.. I work for a JCM (starts with an 'F'). We make some pretty darned sweet laptops, especially in our corporate range and we use them about the company. I could possibly count on two hands the number of times I've seen one of our systems or or even nicer servers and storage systems out in the wild.

Dunno why.. but they're just not around. Pity. Most locals here when I mention who I work for say "Aren't they an air-conditioner company?" ..then are extremely surprised to find out we still do mainframes through laptops. Market awareness and supply chain anyone?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Same same but different
by Alfman on Wed 9th Nov 2016 01:28 UTC in reply to "Same same but different"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

uridium,

Dunno why.. but they're just not around. Pity. Most locals here when I mention who I work for say "Aren't they an air-conditioner company?" ..then are extremely surprised to find out we still do mainframes through laptops. Market awareness and supply chain anyone?


One of my jobs is working on a commercial 3270 emulator as well as mainframe web enablement. If we had private messaging I'd ask if you were familiar with them ;)

Reply Score: 2

they're still around
by unclefester on Wed 9th Nov 2016 10:02 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

There are a variety of Japanese laptops available in Australia. However they are typically premium corporate devices sold through specialist supplies.

Reply Score: 2

My old Vaio is still kicking...
by rwrife on Wed 9th Nov 2016 15:55 UTC
rwrife
Member since:
2016-11-09

I have a ~16yr old Vaio C1 "picturebook" that still works the way it did when it was brand new. I've gone through dozens of laptops and desktop and somehow that little laptop won't die.

Reply Score: 1