Posted on 13 October 2012
My Sony Vaio UX180 UMPC spent many years as the center of my mobile world. However, since the rise of the consumer smartphone, it hasn’t seen much field use lately. While the latest mobile devices are wonderful in many ways, they still lack the amazing software/hardware compatibility which comes with a full-fledged Windows-running x86 PC. I hung onto the UX180 knowing that it would be able to fill some role at some point down the road thanks to that compatibility. A few days ago I finally uncovered the perfect role for it — my UX180 is now back in active duty as an AirPlay receiver and it gladly plays my music, videos, and photos to my big stereo system and big TV. Here’s how you can turn your old UMPC into an AirPlay receiver!
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Posted on 19 July 2011
We’ve seen game controller and plenty of other great mods before for the loved but unfortunately canceled VAIO UX-series UMPC, but it looks like one person has taken the game to a whole new level by mounting a PS3 controller directly to the device.
It’s not clear exactly how the Ps3 controller is mounted to the UMPC, but it seems to be very firmly attached, and is connected to the UX via Bluetooth. The grips of the controller have been shaved off, presumably to make the rig more compact or perhaps easier to hold.
The Vaio UX is powerful for a UMPC, but definitely can’t handle intense modern games. When it comes to older emulated gaming, or less 3D intense arcade style gaming, this mod seems to work perfectly, even for an FPS (as you’ll see below).
YouTube user pochowandpoch (the creator of the mod) has a number of videos showing the rig in use playing Halo, Mario Kart, and Metal Slug, among others:
Controller Mod – Halo
Sony Vaio Controller Mod–Metal Slug
There’s also a video that gives a better look at the removed grips and how the controller attaches to the UX:
Thanks to its desktop OS running nature, and the ability to run emulators, this certainly represents one of the most versatile hand-held gaming machines in the world. Now if only Sony would quit canceling all of its innovative handheld devices….
Posted on 12 October 2010
The guys at Micro PC Talk will not give up. We’ve seen some amazing mods for the coveted (but cancelled) Sony Vaio UX UMPC [Vaio UX only has two internal USB ports. Anh had to install an extremely tiny 4-port USB hub inside of the UX in order to be able to connect all the devices to the computer:
Here’s what’s been carefully packed inside (in addition to the hub above):
- Huawei E172 modem for 3G data (and possibly voice and SMS) [along with this mod, a modified portion of the original EDGE modem was inserted to function as a SIM card slot for the E172 modem, accessible from original SIM card slot]
- Pinnacle PCTV HD Mini Stick for OTA TV
- GPS receiver
On top of all of this, Anh upgraded the UX’s relatively low-powered 1.2GHz Core Solo CPU to the 1.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7700. No easy feat as the CPU has to be completely reballed (not simply dropped in with pins).
Anh was also kind enough to provide some great high-res photos of the modified motherboard to show the added components (click for full size):
And the result looks a little something like this (the external body is totally unmodified):
The VAIO UX is one of the reasons why I’ve urged Sony to reignite their innovation in the handheld arena.
For the sake of transparency: I’m a moderator at the source of this story (www.micropctalk.com)
Posted on 18 May 2010
The fine folks over at MicroPCTalk are racking up an ever impressive list of mods for the Sony Vaio UX series.
This time around, user audioz33 has decided to trick out his UX490 with some sweet street-glow LED backlighting. All UX-series UMPCs come with a blue backlit keyboard, but it seems that audioz33 wanted his UX490 to stand out from the pack. And through a rather sweet looking modification to the keyboard’s LEDs, it definitely does:
Audioz33 appears to have hand-soldered 26 green LEDs in place of the original blue ones. He says that the project took him around 2 hours to complete. Not bad for those of you who like to start a project and finish it the same day. Though the modder mentions that you may not wish to attempt this mod without a decent amount of soldering experience.
If I had this done to my UX, I think I’d probably go with orange LEDs to pay homage to the Sony Clie UX-series which had an awesome thumb-board with orange backlit keys.
Posted on 01 May 2010
Despite the fact that the Sony Vaio UX series [featured in a number of films and music videos, but this definitely takes things to the next level.
Fancy yourself an action figure collector? Why not drop $200 on this John Connor (Terminator Salvation) figure, and if you order from Sideshow Collectibles, you’ll apparently get your very own “Portable Computer”, as seen used in the movie, as an exclusive extra! UMPC aficionados will have noticed the Vaio UX490 used in Terminator Salvation, and it’s been recreated in model form with surprising accuracy:
Seriously, take a look at the detail on this thing. Someone did their research. Everything from the tiny speaker holes to the left of the fingerprint scanner, to the air vents on the bottom, and the mic on the right side toward the bottom of the keyboard. I’m seriously impressed.
I’m been wishing for a smaller and cheaper Vaio UX, but this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.
I don’t see “amazing sliding action!” nor “incredible lighted power button!” listed as any of the miniature UX’s features. I can still dream though, right?
Thanks to bladeiai from MicroPCTalk for the heads up.
Posted on 24 July 2009
Another gem from the geniuses at www.micropctalk.com. MPCT forum user fiveseven808 has created a wearable computer setup using a Sony Vaio UX380 [Portal page] to power the whole thing. Fiveseven808 was kind enough to give me a good run down of the setup and some images as well.
- Battery geek: BG 14-18-60External battery (60wh)
- Sony UX380N
- Motorola iDen i425 (for next-to-nothing (but half dial up speed) always-on internet access)
- Modified MyVu Crystal Head Mounted Display
- Bluetooth enabled cellphone (text and mouse input)
- Bluetooth stereo headset (voice input and stereo output)
- ThinkOutside Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard
- Logitech Bluetooth Mouse
- Bluetooth Frogpad (text input)
Essentially he took the MyVu headset, removed one of the eye pieces, and mounted the other to his glasses to that he could see his surroundings and the UX’s screen at the same time. The MyVu is attached to the UX through the A/V output port on the UX’s port replicator dongle. With some additional addons he provided his UX with extra battery life via an external battery, and several input methods to communicate with the UX while the rest of the kit resides within the backpack.
Unfortunately I must report that fiveseven’s UX380 recently died due to some physical failures, but I got a chance to talk to him about his initial vision for the project:
I guess my original goal was to design a prototype wearable computing system that is expandable, cheap, compact, yet powerful enough to be used as an every day computer with the possibility of having augmented reality systems and other passive information systems convey useful location based information to the user at all times.
I had a chance to speak with fiveseven and have somewhat of an interview with him that I’ll share in the near future. You’ll be able to read fiveseven’s comments on the project. I personally found this setup, and the idea behind, it very cool. Here is to hoping that he manages to track down another UX to continue his work.
Posted on 22 July 2009
Sony, along with others such as Samsung, was one of the early companies that jumped into the idea of the UMPC with some great devices. For a company that hesitated to jump on the netbook bandwagon, Sony was surprisingly passionate in their early UMPC work, updating their Sony Vaio UX series on a nearly bi-yearly basis. Though the UX series never made it to the big-leagues (read: widespread consumer awareness) it apparently made some friends in Hollywood.
Over the years, the Sony Vaio UX series has appeared in a surprising number of films and music videos, often toted as a futuristic high-tech gadget, or a high-class luxury device. With the help of my compadres over at www.micropctalk.com, I’ve compiled a short-list of videos where the Vaio UX is featured and some screenshots of the devices in use from a few of the mentioned locations. I’ve also included Wikipedia links in case you are unfamiliar with the media:
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (film)
Same Girl (music video)
Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)
Drop a line in the comments if you’ve ever seen your favorite gadget featured in a movie or other form of media.
Posted on 21 May 2009
The guys over at Micro PC Talk have had Mac OS X running on the Vaio UX series [for some time now, but a recent video by MPCT forum user perrin21 shows a UX390 running the latest version of Apple’s OS X pristinely. Perrin21 added a few nice mods to his UX390 [Portal page], including a draft-N WiFi card to connect to his/her Airport Extreme, and an Mtron SSD. Everything else on the unit is stock. The video demonstrates the general responsiveness of the OS on the unit and a fully functional, and calibrated, touchscreen. There is some web browsing action, a demo of Boxee, and Front Row, all appearing to work beautifully on the UX390. Not bad for someone who wants OS X in their pocket, am I right? Catch the video below: