Sony Vaio Picturebook

2021, Mar 01    

A precursor to the Sony Vaio Lifestyle range, the Picturebook represents one of Sony's first attempts at creating a widescreen netbook with plenty of functionality and the usual Sony flair. Shipped with a Pentium II CPU and Windows 98, it still represents a significant portable device in the evolution of netbooks and ultrabooks.

The Failing HDD

As with most old equipment there are always parts that have failed or are failing. With this device the HDD was failing badly (including a constant grinding noise when running). Thankfully a replacement IDE SSD was sourced and the data copied across (after multiple attempts). With the new SSD in place (and a chkdsk performed to repair the filesystem) the device booted perfectly. It's worth noting that a smaller SSD was purchased (16GB) instead of something significantly larger due to issues with the BIOS handling larger drives (others have seen issues once you go above 30GB).

The old HDD, with many bad sectors and a constant grinding noise
The new SSD, with added performance and capacity (also, completely silent)

RAM Upgrade

This model laptop has an upgrade slot on the bottom of the device that allowed either a 64MB or 128MB expansion board to be added. Unfortunately its not a standard SODIMM slot, and is actually a custom 140-pin slot that Sony had implemented for this series of devices. A single RAM vendor was known to produce the expansion board, however they no longer manufacture them and nobody has them available (including a refurb company in the USA, Sony in the EU, and the RAM manufacturer themselves.

Additional RAM Slot
The RAM expansion slot on the bottom, which sadly you can't find the part for anymore

Battery Life

Sadly due to the age of the device the battery cells have reached the end of their life and won't hold a charge. While finding a replacement battery pack isn't feasible (due to its age), the cells within the battery pack should be sourceable should there be a need, however as the laptop is displaced for prosperity rather than used for portable functionality it doesn't need replacing at this point.

Current Status

The laptop is fully functional and boots into Windows 98 in under 10 seconds. The full suite of Sony apps are also installed and the built-in webcam is also functional. While the laptop isn't used daily (as nobody wants to use Windows 98 daily), it is powered on once each month to check its still functional and to run a chkdsk just in case.

Vaio Running
With the new SSD and new thermal compound, the device runs great