Secrets behind the development of ultra-lightweight LaVie!
- SuzukiWe weren't able to trim away 200 grams instantly by doing just one thing. It was achieved by an accumulation of small things, which made it increasingly lighter little by little. In these changes, there were three which contributed considerably to this.
- MitaThree changes? What were these?
- SuzukiThe first of these was the liquid crystal display. Normally, a liquid crystal display, when installing into a personal computer, the liquid crystal parts are assembled and completed and then fitted in. However, with the LaVie Z, the individual parts of the liquid crystal display prior to being assembled to become a liquid crystal display are directly attached to the top panel. That is, we achieved a lighter weight by using fewer parts as much as possible. The second of these was the keyboard. Like liquid crystal displays, normally, an assembled and completed keyboard is fitted into the computer. However, with the LaVie Z, the keyboard section was positioned so that it would be suspended from the computer body, and screwed in from below. This enabled us to reduce a number of parts on a panel that gives the keyboard its shape, which made it lighter.
- MitaSo, you made a specific liquid crystal display and keyboard for the computer. Didn't this result in more trouble in production?
- SuzukiYes, it did. For example, the keyboard uses a total of 64 screws for screw fastening from below. Those in production had to work proportionately harder. However, everyone made a concerted effort and shared a strong desire to make the computer lighter.
The keyboard that was attached from the back of the body that helped make the computer lighter (photo of prototype)
- MitaI can't help but feel admiration at this. What was the last major change?
- SuzukiWe used magnesium-lithium alloy for its base. The lightest material used on personal computers up until now is said to be magnesium alloy. However, this magnesium-lithium alloy is about 25% lighter. This material is mentioned in NASA papers from the 1960's and research was conducted with a view to its practical application in the field of aerospace. However, this material is difficult to fabricate and so has not been adopted in the kind of equipment that is mass-produced. In fact, LaVie Z is the first personal computer in the world to use magnesium-lithium as its material.
- MitaJust by hearing that the research of this alloy was done by the space field gives me the impression that the material is light.
- SuzukiYou might be right there. We're also often asked if there are any colors other than silver. Actually, the top panel is made of magnesium and does not exhibit a nice color unless it is coated with a thick layer of paint. If we did this, then the weight of the paint would increase the weight as a whole by several grams. So, we limited the color to only silver on the LaVie Z to avoid this.
- MitaSo, to make it lighter, you were particular about the color, too. That's amazing!
- SuzukiThe LaVie logo is located on the front of the computer. Initially, we thought it would be cool to backlight the logo. However, to do this we would have to install three LED lights. And, three LED lights would increase the weight by a few grams, so we decided not to do so. The development team frantically trimmed down weight by beginning with detailed changes like these.
"LaVie Z" seen from the front and the "LaVie Z" logo on the left side.
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