Sony's $3,000 MiniDisc PC from Japan – Vaio PCV-MX2

Sony's $3,000 MiniDisc PC from Japan – Vaio PCV-MX2

Show Video

[peaceful jazz tunes] Greetings folks and this time on LGR we're looking at a rather excellent machine from Japan: the Sony Vaio PCV-MX2 from the year 2000. It is quite the eye-catching system with that blood orange LCD screen and chunky volume knob, looking more like a part of a midsize stereo system than a PC, and that's not the only hi-fi similarity. It's also packing a built-in amplifier, CD player, FM radio, remote control, and a MiniDisc drive. Yeah! Right below its fancy slot-loading DVD-ROM is a straight-up MiniDisc recorder mounted inside, usable both on its own without the PC powered up or in conjunction with Sony MiniDisc authoring software for Windows.

Ooh this is going to be fun to dive into, so I hope you're in the mood for the late nineties Sony multimedia PC experience. Ever since Sony introduced the Vaio line in 1996, these computers always stood out from the desktop PC crowd in my mind. Compared to all the countless beige and white towers, Vaios were a breath of fresh air.

With Sony's classic design sensibilities and the series' trademark silver and blue color scheme. Though I wish the MX2 had more blue accents, as seen in Sony's advertising where they added more color and boosted the saturation, with more vibrancy than I've ever seen on a Vaio in person. Whatever, either way, I like how they look and the PCV-MX2 is one of my favorites. As for what it cost back in 2000, well, it's hard to say precisely, since there was no suggested retail price. Instead, Sony listed it using the "open price" concept, allowing individual Japanese retailers to determine how much to sell it for based on current market conditions, meaning prices could vary from store to store.

For the most part though, it seems the PCV-MX2 sold for between 330 to 440,000 yen or around 3 to 4,000 US dollars, roughly 5 to $6,000 or so adjusted for inflation. Yeah, Vaios were a lot of things, but low cost was never one of them, and that was another reason I was drawn to them back then. The price made them unobtainable, and no one I knew ever had one, so they always seemed like a status symbol. Doubly so with the Vaios we never got in the US, like the original PCV-MX series.

This initial line of MiniDisc-equipped machines was produced and sold exclusively in Japan between 1999 and 2001, beginning with the PCV-MX1, quickly followed up with the MX2 I have, and then the MX3 and MX5 models in 2000 and 2001. We are sticking to the MX2 though, which came in three configurations. One with an LCD monitor, one with a CRT, and one with a speaker-equipped CRT that connected to a TV tuner card. Each model MX2 had the same specs otherwise. Starting with the CPU, a respectable 750 megahertz Intel Pentium III processor, paired with 64 megabytes of PC100 SDRAM, a standard if unimpressive amount and speed in 2000.

For storage, there's a 30 gigabyte IDE hard drive with Windows 98 Second Edition, and a whole lot of OEM software installed, and graphics are handled by a 16 megabyte Nvidia Riva TNT2 from ASUS. An AGP 4X card with DVI, S-Video, and VGA output. Sound is handled by an integrated chip on the motherboard, but it's surprisingly good. It's an AU8830 Aureal Vortex 2, supporting A3D 2.0 for spatial effects

and pseudo-surround sound in stereo, and the audio situation gets even better from there. The MX2 also has a built-in stereo amplifier, with audio jacks for unpowered speakers, line level RCA output, and optical in and out. Originally, it would have come with this pair of unpowered Vaio speakers, neatly completing the bookshelf hi-fi aesthetic, but mine unfortunately didn't, so I'm using this random set of Sonys I found at a thrift store. Unlike the original speakers, they're not magnetically shielded, and it's not a great idea to put them up against a CRT, so I'm using this 15-inch LCD monitor, a Sony SDM-M51.

It's not the same display that was bundled with the MX2, but it's still a TFT LCD of the same size and general time period, so it'll do. The mouse was easier to track down, since it used the same style of PS/2 ball mouse with a scroll wheel, seen on late nineties Vaios here in the US. Next up is the keyboard, a rubber dome membrane board, typical of Vaios from back then, mushy and cheap-feeling, but entirely usable.

It's also got this removable plastic wrist rest with on-brand branding, and a row of application shortcut keys along the top with special attention being brought to the Help key. How helpful. And, of course, the board uses the expected Japanese layout, with all the usual localized keys and characters, and the resulting cute little space bar. Another quirk of the MX2 only being built for Japan is the power supply, which is set to 100 volts only, with no switch for any other voltages, and a power cord that has a standard C13 connector on one end, but a non-polarized two-prong connector on the other end with a ground wire sticking out.

So I'll be using it with this US to Japanese power transformer to step down the voltage. Plus, it provides a place to screw in the ground wire. Lastly, in terms of peripherals, there's the remote control, and unlike many PC remotes back then, this one isn't meant to handle much of anything on the software side of things. Instead, it's geared almost entirely towards using the front panel audio stuff, via this infrared sensor. Yeah, that's only for the remote. It doesn't do IrDA communication like you often got on laptops and PDAs.

And on that note, it actually does have a Type II PC Card slot for plugging in PCMCIA devices, something Sony was fond of including with their desktops instead of only laptops. And it's actually attached to this extra-long PCI modem card from Ricoh, so on the other side of it is this V.90 Kflex fax modem chipset plopped onto the same board. Neat.

Also up front underneath that little flappy door is a selection of 3.5 millimeter audio jacks, a single USB 1.1 port, and an S400 i.LINK port. This was Sony's version of what most know as Firewire, with a 4-pin interface on the front and the larger 6-pin port around back. An excellent thing to have included from the factory.

And what is this little "Sesame Street" sticker on there? I don't think that was factory-installed. Hm, I guess the previous owner forget to clear their cookies! Another fancy addition is the FM radio receiver, integrated into the PC right below the amplifier, with a coax connector to screw in an antenna for better reception. Once again, though, being built for the Japanese market means it's limited to Japanese radio frequencies. These ranged between 76 to 90 MHz, so it fails to pick up most of the 90 to 108 MHz stations used here in the States, which in Japan was used for VHF TV instead of radio.

So, there's not a lot to pick up here at all without an FM transmitter, and obviously, that won't let me show the radio teletext function. Though it is kinda fun to see all the station presets left by the previous owner. On the topic of this front panel, the whole thing actually functions independently from the PC. Pressing the "Audio" button on the case or the remote powers up the panel alongside the amplifier, with all its own settings and controls. It's a weird stereo system PC hybrid and that's awesome, letting you play CDs and MiniDiscs, listen to FM radio and optical sources, as well as record CDs, radio, and optical directly to MiniDisc.

All it can do is basic recording only though. You can't erase tracks or apply song or artist labels without booting up the PC and running some software, but it's a fun novelty regardless, and you do at least get some additional settings, like a 5-band equalizer, adjustments for the LCD and inputs, a sleep timer, alarm, and so on, and everything is controlled via the panel buttons, or using the RM-MX1 remote control, with the exception of the time and date, which is handled by the PC and its own internal clock, and whenever it's powered off, the time display stays on with dim back lighting, acting as one seriously overqualified desktop clock. But obviously, the MiniDisc drive is the machine's real standout feature, which, in case you're unaware or need a refresher, MiniDisc was Sony's proprietary magneto-optical audio disc format introduced in 1992.

Not to be confused with Mini CDs or UMDs. Those are different things. It's also distinct from MD Data, which I've covered before on LGR. MD Data used its own separate kind of MiniDiscs for file storage, and while the drives could read audio MDs, they couldn't write them, so it's awesome to see a proper MiniDisc recorder inside of a PC like this, which allowed reading and writing of audio MDs, both on its own and through Windows. And I gotta wonder how many folks accidentally tried sticking a floppy disk in there without realizing, since the two slots are kinda similar if you're not paying attention.

Also, it's worth noting that this is only intended for use with original MiniDiscs, not the later versions like MDLP or NetMD. Sony released PCs during the Windows XP era supporting those, several of which actually released outside of Japan this time, like the PCV-RX403N and PCV-MXS10, each having MDLP drives with NetMD support, but the original PCV-MX series stuck with OG MD, and in fact, the mechanism inside is actually a KMK-260AAB. Same exact unit used in multiple standalone players, like the Onkyo MD-122MX here.

Really, the only thing that's unique is the PC interface board it's connected to, which links the mechanism to both the front panel and the PC itself. I know this because the MD drive inside the computer was totally dead when I first got it, so I ended up transplanting the mechanism from another MiniDisc recorder. Thankfully, the ribbon cable connectors are identical between the two, and the main challenge was swapping out the metal housing, springs, and doors between the two units, and re-housing the thing inside the 5.25-inch drive cage. A little tedious but entirely doable, and yeah, works perfectly now. Right, so that's enough wafting about with wonky old hardware. Let's move onto the software side of things by hooking everything up, powering it on, and trying out the included software with Windows 98! [background beats come to a halt] All right, finally time to get this lovely PC powered on.

[system whirring to life, drive seeking] Hear that DVD-ROM? And you got that lovely Sony logo at the startup there. Mm, how special. Not too loud, considering its age.

The fans seem to have held up pretty nicely after a little bit of a cleaning, and of course, loaded on here, we do have a Windows 98 Second Edition, the Japanese version of it. So, this is localized as you would expect with the language settings and all that, which does make things a little interesting in terms of loading certain software. [computer beeping] And yeah, if you heard that beep right there, that's actually coming from the PCMCIA card, or really the PC Card interface with the modem that's in there.

That actually counts as slot two for PCMCIA, because, you know, there's the front panel, and then the modem on the same card. The modem counts as slot two. [amplified Windows 98 startup sound] [chuckles] Oh yeah, those larger amplified speakers certainly are a step up from the usual desktop computer speakers that you got back in the day.

At least that I'm used to. Sounds really good, and yeah, I'm also really lucky to have found this system with an original Windows 98 SE installation, complete with all the OEM software from Sony and the drivers and such. I mean, that stuff can be ridiculously elusive nowadays, and I have yet to find any recovery discs for this particular model. So please, oh man, if anyone watching has access to a set of PCV-MX2 system and application recovery discs from Japan, you know, if you got those lying around, please, please, please, back them up and share them. Send me an email. It would be hugely appreciated, 'cause I mean, all the stuff that's on here, it's hard to get these things restored without those discs.

So I'm just really lucky to have the hard drive. I've backed up all the files I've got here, but the installation, it deserves to be preserved, and I would love to get this thing completely factory fresh without having to go through and do it manually. So let's dive into some of the software here. Just really quick before I change the camera angle and get a closer look, check this out. I really do you like the fact that you have some special shortcuts that show up over here on the panel. So if you were to just press "MX," for instance, this is gonna open the MX Stage software from Sony.

[triumphant startup sound] Oh, love those sounds. And yeah, it's sort of a navigation cluster here for all of your different audio features. So yeah, we've got a media bar for different playback and visualization of just files from your hard drive or whatever. MP3s and things like that, and then over here, we've got your regular volume settings. This is pretty cool too. So when you do the big knob, look at that.

It affects it over on the computer side as well, and you've got this nice little display here. So, these kinds of functions are some of the only ways that the whole front panel and the Windows software side of things work together, because otherwise, it's all like on its own. Like, you can press the audio button, and it doesn't do anything, all these other buttons, none of that stuff, because that is all the front panel. It's by itself when the computer is off. Otherwise, you got the software being software. So, yeah, we will explore some of this stuff a little bit closer.

Let me go ahead and change the camera angle to something a little bit more appropriate. All right. Hope that's good. I've done my best to compensate for the moiré effect on these old LCDs, but you know, it is what it is. So yeah, in terms of the software that it comes with, I believe this Vaio folder here in the Start menu is pretty much everything that was originally included with it, more or less.

I don't know if it's more *or* less, because like I said, the previous owner just left everything on there, which is why I picked up this particular machine and imported it from Japan, 'cause like, there's just, there's so much stuff still on here, and it hasn't been wiped or anything, but since I can't factory restore it since I don't have the discs, I'm just assuming everything's on here with the exception of something called PostPet. I believe it's like a pet raising kind of program. I don't see that on here, unfortunately, but there are some fascinating things. Got all these wonderful Vaio wallpapers. Got the water one. Sky. Oh, that one's cool. [brief laugh of coolness]

Those 3D objects. And then Fire. Yeah, all of those are just wonderful. I love OEM wallpapers, and it does have additional screensavers. I don't know which ones are unique to this system or were installed later, but MX Demo, I know for sure is unique to the system. Most of these others, you know, like a lot of these, they're all just Japanese versions of the regular screensavers that you recognize from Windows 98.

But yeah, let's open this one, because this is just pretty neat on its own. It's less a screensaver, and more of a demo kiosk kind of thing. [upbeat music] So yeah, it just takes you through the key features of the PCV-MX2, all the cool multimedia things that it does, and some fancy music in the background, which is actually kind of cheesy, but in the best way.

I don't know. I can just imagine seeing this set up in like a storefront, a shop front area, somewhere in Japan, just, you know. Oh man. You see this cool computer from Sony, and this neat little thingy going on, and you're like, ah, I want that.

I know it would get my attention. Look at these. This is wonderful. This is so cool. Audio, it's got a CD or DVD going in there. Yes, FM radio. Sound.

Those awesome speakers I wish I had. Internet, yes. TV, if you have the version with the TV capture tuner card thing. MiniDisc, dude. So many things, the PCV-MX2, and that's that.

That's all that is. I just want to show you that, because I think it's absolutely the best. Nothing too crazy to see in terms of Windows things.

If you've messed with 98, then you know what it is. Let's open some music though. Of course, I've gotta go with the classic here, "Canyon.mid" Get that wavetable going on the Aureal Vortex 2.

[canyon.mid fades in] Yeah, it sounds like the other Aureal Vortex 2s that I have, which is pretty good. I like the wavetable on there, and it seems that WinAmp was the default selection for the previous owner, so I can see they were a person of culture. All right, so enough screwing around, whatever. Let's go to the MiniDisc portion of the computing experience here, and so this is kind of fascinating.

So I wasn't really sure how in the world this would work because, yeah, I had just never seen an internal MiniDisc drive in a computer. So, I was wondering like, okay, is it going to show up as like a drive or a drive letter? Nope, it doesn't, nothing here. Yeah, C is the main partition. D is a secondary partition on the drive, and then Q is the CD-ROM for some reason. MiniDisc doesn't show up with a drive letter whatsoever.

It doesn't even show up as an optical drive or anything. I don't even see it listed as a device. Like, maybe it's just one of these random ones that are stuck in there somewhere, and I just don't notice it.

I don't know. Maybe it's connected to some other thing inside there. I just don't know.

I don't know how exactly it works in terms of communicating with the software, but it does indeed communicate. [MX Stage startup chime] But you just have to use the MX Stage software to do it, and yeah, now that we have a MiniDisc in the drive, the little icon there is lit up, and it will open a program that we can mess around with playback and doing some basic editing and authoring. [Quake theme plays] Stop that before we get a copyright strike. And there it is.

And of course, we can edit things here if we want. So, we can call it "Farts." There's that. Playback. Of course, we can erase it.

Oh, man, just erasing things. There it is. It has been erased. So, now, that is ready to put whatever else we want to on there, but yeah, it's just a very basic little program here for messing around with whatever recordable MiniDiscs you have inserted, and then if you want to record from this program, you just arm it by pressing the record button there. Pause lights up, and then yeah, you can just let it record whatever's playing through the computer, I believe. [canyon.mid plays in chunks] Okay, and now we have a track.

[recorded chunky canyon.mid plays] The worst track ever recorded on MiniDisc right there. We'll erase that crap, and then that's pretty much, you know, just your basic MiniDisc recording functions.

It's just in a nice little handy player here. It's pretty neat. You know, a little program to do that stuff.

Apparently it was supposed to come with something called OpenMG Jukebox to do more in-depth authoring and editing for MiniDiscs, but I don't see that in here, and I believe that would have also allowed you to do things like drag and drop files, you know, like MP3s and WAV files and things like that, and put them directly over to MiniDiscs. It would do some conversion for you, but I just, I don't see that on here, so, oh well. Either way, though, the fact that you have that sort of built-in MiniDisc functionality on a PC is just so cool. It's so cool! I mean, you get FM radio.

I mean, that's cool too, but you can get that so many different ways through other devices. I've been meaning to do a video on FM tuner radio devices for PCs for years and years and years, 'cause I've got a bunch of them, but yeah. And in case you're wondering, no, it does not burn CDs, just MiniDiscs.

The DVD-ROM that's in there is exactly that: a DVD-ROM. So it reads only, and that's what that is. They did sell an external CD-RW drive, the PCVA-CRW1 that was meant to pair with this series of Vaios, but yep, that was separated, connected via Firewire.

However, one thing that is on here was included with every single Vaio from this time period in Japan is "Kara-OK." Yes, okay. You get this HTML browser-based navigator for karaoke files. It comes with two traditional songs, "ABCs" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." How convenient they're the same tune.

Whatever, let's open it up. You get a program here and got some karaoke. [upbeat ABC song plays] ♪ Karaoke, ABCs ♪ Ooh, this is just the best feature, and two songs! And there's also only two backgrounds, the shower head and the sand dune.

So, you know, kind of a little demo. I assume there were more things available if you were to download them from the "Kara-OK" website back in the day, but this is all you get here on the Vaio. Two backgrounds, two songs.

A baffling selection of backgrounds. ♪ Twinkle, twinkle, little star ♪ ♪ How I wonder what you are ♪ - [Clint] Oh, dude, absolute banger. You've got a singer to sing along with. You know, if I was paying 3 to $4,000 for a computer in Japan back in the late nineties, I expect this and here it is, and interestingly, there is no microphone included with this computer or any of the other models as far as I know. I believe the mic was actually built into the Vaio monitors of the time. This is not a Vaio monitor necessarily.

It's just a Sony monitor, but I think all the Vaio monitors had a built-in mic. You could always get one separately. Let's see what else we've got on here.

I know there's a lot of different applications and tools for converting and editing media. Yeah, DV Gate being one of them. So you've got DV Gate Assemble, Motion, and Still, and these were for taking footage from your Mini DV camera or camcorder and then putting them together, and yeah, slapping them into some files that could be edited in one of the programs. I think it came with a program for editing too. Yeah, Movie Shaker. Hadn't heard of this, mixing assistant.

I like the little cocktail shaker there, mixer, or whatever it is. Yeah, Sony Vegas, this ain't. It's a very stylized late nineties, early 2000s kind of assistant for editing media. Let's just drop some files in here and get some pictures or something. There we go. Put these on the timeline.

Nice. Yeah, it's just kind of a Windows Movie Maker before that. Very simple stuff.

I think we've got, let's see, like transitions over here. Yeah, a nice circle to triangle transition. Question mark.

We've got effects over here. I've got bubbles and bombs. Hearts, and I guess we can add messages, with different emoji or emotions or something. I don't know. Let's just put that in there and see what happens. Okay, it added like a blank thing.

I don't know. Maybe that's text, whatever. Let's just hit the output. We've got QuickTime, multiple QuickTime things. RealMedia, ooh, DV.

Nah, let's just go with QuickTime. "" All right, Pentium III 750 MHz, let's see your blazing fast rendering of QuickTime movies, if it'll ever update the screen. There it is. The hard disk is rather slow, and the relative lacking amount of memory is not great either, plus there's all kinds of bloat running in the background. I've cleared off a lot of it, but it is what it is.

All right, there we go. Oh, nice. There we go. All right, there's our transitions. Look, and all the effects at once.

Oh man, and music. I didn't add music. [rather goofy music plays] [laughs] Why is it just putting the words everywhere? Oh no, it stopped. Hey, what did I do? [laughing continues] It can't keep up with this high-quality excellence. Oh no. There's just, ah! What in the world? Oh. [clapping] Brilliant, brilliant.

What was that scatterbrained nonsense of editing? I didn't do that. I guess it just places whatever words you want in there randomly? Anyway, I think you get the idea of the kind of stuff that it came with. Just a whole lot of bloatware, honestly, but also media editing things and lots of Sony tools, so to speak. I wish it came with that pet program. I believe that's what this is.

Like, you select your little shortcut here for your different pets, but unfortunately, all the links go to a folder that no longer exists. I can't find the files. I don't know if they were like on a CD-ROM, or, I don't know, maybe they just got deleted. So, that's unfortunate, but yeah, a bunch of useful stuff and some less than useful stuff.

There's also this right here. This is kind of cool. "Navin' You." "Navin' You Digital Map Navigator." Yeah, look at that. So, oh man. That's an interesting way of navigating the navigator.

Pro Atlas, pretty cool, especially if this was a laptop, I could see this being more useful, but I mean, I guess if you were, like, planning out your trip through Japan or whatever, you could do that here and then print out your itinerary. Good stuff. Well, anyway, we're not going to go through absolutely every program that it came with, but yeah, let's go up to a little bit of my own stuff.

I've got games mostly, and I want to try some DOS games and some Windows 95 things, but yeah, to do that, I just used a compact flash adaptor in the PCMCIA port on the front there to easily transfer stuff over. So, that's handy, but yeah, let's go to the DOS side of things, because this is not quite what I was expecting in terms of sound support, and by that, I mean there is none. It does not have any Sound Blaster emulation. There is nothing going on in the drivers for Windows for the 8830 chip set here. The Vortex 2 normally does have that, but I mean, it doesn't even have FM support. There's no Adlib, there's no OPL emulation of any kind at all, which leads me to believe this is either a cut-down version of the Vortex 2 without that support, or it's just a version of the drivers going on where Sony decided, hey, we don't need legacy support and DOS software.

So, yeah, the only option we have is just the general MIDI. It does have MPU401, so. [Duke3D theme plays, partially] That sounds a little weird. Where are the drums? Uh... Well, this was totally working the other day, and now it just killed the MPU.

Well, anyway, so that's a little buggy. Well, whatever. Point being that DOS support just kind of isn't here in terms of sound. So, you've got very, oh. [Duke3D theme plays fully]

Well, what the? Hey, whatever. I work when I want to, baby! I was going to say, it's kind of very silent DOS games unless you have the general MIDI support actually working. I don't know. I don't know.

Computers are so weird, man. I don't understand computers! So, yeah, you got that. You've got General MIDI and that's pretty much it. No Adlib emulation, no Sound Blaster PCM stuff. You get PC Speaker. That's there. So, if you've got games with that, but you know, Duke Nukem here, this is relying on MIDI and Sound Blaster for sound effects, but yeah, that's about all you get.

Runs great, of course, obviously. It's a Pentium III. You've got plenty, plenty, plenty, plenty of performance. 750 megahertz. Whoops, I did not mean to use steroids.

I can't help myself. Yeah, we're getting hundreds of FPS, as you'd expect. Go into a corner and we get way more. Look at that, 320.

So yeah, that's what that is, and unless you've got a game with PC speaker sound, you're not going to get any sound effects. So, you know, and even then, the PC speaker is pretty quiet, probably just a little piezo beeper thing. I didn't notice what's on there. Doesn't really matter, because DOS games aren't really what this is made for. Nah, this is very much a Windows 98 machine, and it's pretty capable for the time in terms of gaming, and when I think 1999, year 2000, I think "Need For Speed: High Stakes," also known as "Road Challenge," also known as "Over Drivin' 4" in Japan. I don't have that version unfortunately, but yeah.

Let's just try out "Need For Speed 4." Mm, full motion video in full screen. [car engines rumbling] Those speakers sound awesome. ["Cygnus Rift" plays] All right, there we go.

Hot Pursuit mode. And as far as graphics, yeah, I've got 800 by 600, 32 bit color, because we can get that going with this TNT2 card. And yeah, we'll just do that.

[car engines rumbling] - [Announcer] Three, two, one, go! - [Clint] Ah, yeah. As you can see, it looks great and it runs pretty darn well. Oh, yeah. It does start to slow down a bit as things get a little more detailed in certain parts of the track and more action goes on and stuff, but yeah. This would have been fantastic to me in '99. 800 by 600, 32 bit color.

I'll turn it down a bit. Yeah, I was stuck with a Voodoo 3 in a slower PC than this, much slower, in '99, anyway, and it was 16 bit color only, and going anything above 640 by 480 was just a dream, man. It would run too crappily really to do that. I mean, we did it anyway, but you know.

Like, this right here. Oh yeah, this is great, and you drop it down to 640 by 480, and then you do get a nice, smooth 60 throughout the game from what I've tested, but yeah. Being able to go higher resolution like this with pretty much max details and everything, that is just, oh, it's awesome. It's so cool.

Still, oh, 1999. - [Officer] Warning, drive with caution! - [Clint] I will never drive with caution, sir. - So, yeah, another personal favorite from '99, or I was playing it in '99. I guess it did come out in '99, didn't it? "Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings."

[dramatic menu music] So, I've got this set to the monitor's native resolution, 1024x768. Honestly, this display does a great job of scaling lower resolutions, but you know, I may as well go with the native, because it can do it. And the music isn't playing.

Why is that? I don't know. Maybe the CD volume is turned down. You know what? I bet I didn't plug it back in. I bet I didn't, because I was unplugging all kinds of things when I was messing around with stuff, and I believe the CD audio cable was one of them, and I didn't stick it back into the sound card header on the motherboard.

Crap. Well, I'll have to fix that. Do I need? No, I don't need a lumber camp. A mining camp, that's what I want.

I'll put that over there. Give me my sheep. [sheep baa-ing] [Clint imitates] Good times, man. This game is awesome. Runs great, no surprise. Yeah, I gotta fix the CD sound issue.

That's a problem. All right, let's move on to another go-to of the late nineties, "Quake 2," and yeah, I'm going with this instead of "Quake 3" because I've got another game that I want to try that is an arena shooter instead of "Quake 3," but "Quake 2" for now. [id Software logo thumping] So noisy. All right, so I've got this one at 1024 by 768. Full quality and all that. [tense music] Okay, so the CD audio is working on here.

What's going on? Wait, does "Age of Empires 2" not have CD audio? Maybe it was just "Age 1" I'm thinking of. Now that I think about it, I think "Age 2" uses like MP3s or something for its music. It's been a while since I've actually messed around with the music formats on Age of Kings. Anyway, whatever. The CD audio is working here, so I guess the cable is plugged in.

Okay well, you know, I wasn't paying attention. That's what I get, but yeah, you're probably noticing some of these performance hitches. Like, it runs great, and then all of a sudden, it just starts slowing down and getting a little hiccupy, and stuttery and stuff. That is very much due to the hard disk, and you know, like I said earlier, I've cleaned up, I've run scan disc and defrag, but yeah, just little hitches like that. The game runs great for the most part at 1024 by 768, but it's just on occasion, whenever it's like loading in new sound effects or enemies or whatever data from the hard disk, then just get a little hitch, but it runs really good. I mean, I would have been extremely impressed with this.

[rawk music] [guns blaring] Oh, I need a better gun so badly, and oh my goodness, yeah, see the hitching? Whenever you load into a new situation like this. Give me the gun, a good one, please. There we go. That feels better.

I'm going to die anyway. Okay, yeah. Well, yeah, so, it's like once it gets stuff loaded into memory or cached or whatever it's doing, then it's pretty good. It's just like every time you get into a new level or some sort of new data's loaded in, it just gets a little iffy.

Okay, moving on to another strategy, or really a sim game, "SimCity 3000: Unlimited." Absolute favorite from that time period. Oh man, year 2000. [upbeat simulation tunes] Such a great game. Great soundtrack, great gameplay. And I remember this being, on really large cities, being a little tougher to run. Let me go with 800 by 600 here, and we're just going to load in.

Yeah, we'll go for that. Why not? All right, so it is loaded, but it's still not going to be extremely responsive for a bit. Oh, this is like late game performance, and this is just kind of how it is. Oh, man, now, here's the thing.

Yeah, let's do the whole zoom out thing, where you just get a bunch of glass cubes everywhere. Oh, it takes so long to re-render. Come on. There we go. Oh.

Yeah, look at that. That right there, I remember that sight so much. Honestly, it was even slower than this on my system back then, so again, I would have been cool with this, but yeah. These big ol' beefy simulation games, even these right here that aren't true 3D necessarily, it's just, there's a lot going on. Man, this game still looks really good though.

Doesn't it? I think it does. Obviously, if we start a new city here, then performance is fantastic, because there's not much going on. [gentle music] Yeah, wonderful performance with no city at all.

This is the way to play right here. "SimCity," without the cities. Yeah, dude, entirely playable. Like I said, this is just that late game, where any of these later SimCity games were, they're just rough to run on systems of the time period. This is much better on, I don't want to save it. Much better on a much later system from the Windows XP era, if you can run it okay without compatibility issues, and while that's taking 45 minutes to shut down, I've got one more Windows game I want to try here, "Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition," which actually doesn't need the CD in the drive once it's installed, thank goodness.

So, we're going to run that straight from the janky old hard drive. [UT theme music] Yeah, UT 99. So, Direct3D.

I'm gonna go with 640 by 480. Do I want 32 bit? I don't know, this is kind of pushing it. We're gonna go with 16 bit, medium settings.

Precaching. I don't see that message as often anymore. I usually play this on pretty modern systems now. Oh, dear.

Okay. Ah! [gunfire] Oh, I got a headshot with that performance. That's how good I am.

So, as you can see, we're really pushing things here, at least for a bit, once everything is still trying to get loaded in. Oh man, the hitching and stuttering is intense though for a good while. Once it does get everything into cached or whatever, into memory, I dunno, then it's all right. You know, runs pretty good actually, but it's just, yeah. More and faster RAM would obviously be a fantastic upgrade. A better hard drive, those two things, you know, and just cleaning up the system, or even doing a full fresh install would be great too, but I can't do that until I get the restore discs.

So, again, if anybody does happen to find restore discs for this specific model, because, man, these Vaios are so specific. You have to have like the exact variant, or the restore discs won't work at all. Sucks, man. And yeah, maybe I'll just image everything. I mean, I have imaged things on here, and I'll just take that image and transfer it all over manually to a new hard drive, and just sort of clone this drive and put it on a better one. I don't know. There's options.

Either way, though, you can see performance is not optimal. It's all right at this point, though. I would play this.

I *am* playing this. Time to die! [Redeemer explosion] Neat! All right, well, that's pretty much it for the Sony Vaio PCV-MX2 from Japan. One of my favorite systems of the era, now that I've had a lot of time to play with it over the past month or so.

Yeah, you know, despite its performance issues in its current configuration, all that could be addressed, and I hope to do so at some point in the future, but I thought it was fun to show it in its pretty much original form here in this video, this retrospective, but the fact that it's got that MiniDisc drive, that's just awesome on its own, but you know, once you get past that, it's a pretty decent Windows 98 PC. 750 megahertz Pentium III, 64 megs of RAM, and a TNT2 by Nvidia. That's not bad, and obviously, it could only be improved, but yeah, I pretty much just want to leave it as it is, 'cause it's sort of a time capsule of Japanese personal computing and Sony Vaios in general. So, yeah, I hope that you enjoyed watching this, and if you did, check out my other videos on other old computers and other such things that I post here on LGR. And as always, thank you very much for watching!

2021-08-18 02:56

Show Video

Other news