VGA ports on skinny laptops

John Gruber points out three skinny laptops announced today still come with thick, chunky VGA ports: vestigial curiosities, given that you can hardly buy projectors and monitors these days without getting adapters thrown in free. Industrial designers seem shackled to spec-sheets, to boilerplate corporate RFPs which will mandate them for all time.

My favorite example of this phenomenon is Sony's Vaio X. While this is a company that randomly generates a new laptop design every three months and pays no attention to what succeeds and fails, the Vaio X was a good one. At the time, it was the only decent Windows alternative to the MacBook Air. Yet it had this freaky metal protuberance poking out the side: a VGA port.

Close inspection revealed that the Vaio X was barely a hair's width thicker than the port. They even, as I recall, carefully molded the chassis' underside so that it went around the VGA port casing rather than over it — only on the more visible top side did they add a layer of plastic for appearances' sake.

Photo: Notebook Check

I know that VGA ports are important to many people, but do you see what happened there? Sony set out to make the thinnest laptop in the world, then designed the entire thing around the thickness of the VGA port.