Sony Vaio P netbook
Highly portable and highly priced
Review Sony manages to conjure up some lovely pieces of kit, but it also has a tendency to slap outrageous price tags on them. And this was no more apparent than when it launched the Vaio P-Series last year.
Sony’s Vaio P: small, light, but darned expensive
Small and sexy, the original P-Series was designed to appeal to affluent types who wanted to join in the netbook revolution but couldn’t stomach spending less than £300. Since then, Sony has bowed to pressure and released a more traditionally-priced netbook in the form of the Vaio M Atom. However, it still appears to have faith in the P-Series, and has just launched a new model.
This time round it’s a bit more affordable, but at £799 the VPCP11S1E is still pretty darn expensive. The design is even more enticing than its predecessor, though, and with smooth, curved edges it looks and feels great. I was sent the rather garish pink version, but thankfully other colours are available.
The unit is powered by an Intel Atom Z540, which is clocked at 1.86GHz and has 2GB of DDR3 memory at its disposal. Graphics are handled by Intel’s GMA 500.
With its 8in display having an ultra-widescreen resolution of 1,600 x 768, the VPCP11S1E takes on a very elongated appearance. Sony would like you to think it’ll slip nicely into a coat pocket, but at 245mm long and 120mm wide that pocket will need to be fairly capacious. However, measuring just 20mm thick, it’s incredibly slim and weighs a mere 632g.
The keyboard is surprisingly finger friendly
Flip open the lid, and a surprisingly large and easy-to-use keyboard comes into view. There’s no trackpad, but Sony does offer two alternatives. The first is a trackpoint that sits just above the ‘B’ key – this is used in conjunction with the three buttons below the space bar.
Thank you for testing the Vaio P with Ubuntu - you've probably saved a number of Reg readers some grief.
VLC uses CPU rendering whereas MPC will hook into the GMA graphics and use some of that grunt to render.
I have the same problem with 1080P encodes on my media center, the dual core amd 2.0GHz chip isn't up to smoothly rendering the file in VLC but when using MPC the ATi3850 I have stuffed in the box makes no deal out of it.
Also try running MSCONFIG and removing some of the pointless crap on startup. If it has an SSD look at an optimisation guide for SSD's aswell as there's a ton of crap running to aid HDD's that have a negative impact on an SSD.
So, unless you're from Psion, a netbook is a small, cheap, low-powered laptop with a low-res screen. The Vaio P doesn't have the traditional netbook form-factor and it's got a (significantly) above-average screen compared with netbooks. Unsurprisingly, this comes at a premium (especially since the cost of the panel isn't shared among every manufacturer on the planet), so it's not cheap. So why are we calling it a netbook? The article eventually points out that it's not one, but that doesn't really excuse putting "netbook" in the review title. It's not like Sony claim it's a netbook.
By all means rant about whether it's value for money, but starting out by calling it a netbook necessarily puts it on a back foot. If you started by calling it a subnotebook, you could describe it as "cheaper than average and a bit slow". Since "subnotebook" seems to have disappeared from the technical vocabulary, I'd like to remind you that they're very small, premium notebooks, typically compromising functionality in favour of size. This is exactly what a Vaio P is. However, every manufacturer who has traditionally made subnotebooks is now on the back foot, because everyone compared their premium models with the Eee PC. The Eee was "good enough" for a lot of users (especially those like me, used to second-hand Librettos), but that doesn't mean you can ignore every corner that it cut; it was never *that* small, and it was more compromised than true subnotebooks.
If I was in the market for a new laptop, the screen is the first thing I go for, with a portability second. For me, a Vaio P is a very tempting proposition (but not in pink), although I can't deny I'd like it to be a bit cheaper and to have a slightly smoother linux install process. If you're not a resolution addict like me, I'm sure it looks over-priced compared with an original EeePC, because you have no interest in the premium features it offers. Reviewers who don't like high resolution screens (*some* people are comfortable closer to the screen than others) killed the 15.4" WUXGA laptop market; criticising a netbook whose USP is that it has a high-resolution screen for having a high-resolution screen seems unduly harsh. People who want a Vaio P presumably want it because of the screen, not in spite of it (unless they're both idiots and fashion victims).
The Vaio P is in a niche of its own. There are plenty of things to criticise about it, but please don't compare apples to, er, apricots.