I’ve seen it in pictures and I’ve seen it in stores. But it wasn’t until I received the VAIO P for review from Sony a few of days back that I fully appreciated the Engineering marvel this little machine is. Measuring just 245mm x 120mm and weighing 594g, the VAIO P is the most portable [...]
I’ve seen it in pictures and I’ve seen it in stores. But it wasn’t until I received the VAIO P for review from Sony a few of days back that I fully appreciated the Engineering marvel this little machine is. Measuring just 245mm x 120mm and weighing 594g, the VAIO P is the most portable and probably the best looking netbook that I’ve come across. Whoops, did I just say netbook as that is not the term Sony like categorizing the P series under.
Specifications wise, the VAIO P series I received is somewhat equivalent to most netbooks I’ve recently looked at. It has the 1.6GHz Atom Z530 CPU which is a single core CPU but with Hyper Threading enabled. The integrated chipset is based on the Intel GMA 500 and powers the 8″ screen- more on that below. There is 2GB RAM present onboard while a 64GB Samsung SSD stores your files and the Vista Operating System. Other specs include your usual 802.11g (Draft n) based WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 and a 0.3MP Webcam.
The left side of the unit has the power input connector along with audio output and one USB port while the right side features an additional USB port and an expansion connector which takes in the included DSUB (VGA) and Ethernet dongle. The front side has SD and Memory stick slots along with switches for power and Wireless and finally, the back side has a removable battery which makes up almost a third of the size.
The 8″ screen has a native resolution of 1600×768 which is higher than any netbook I’ve used. Everything on the screen appears incredibly sharp, however, at the expense of text looking incredibly small. I have perfect eye sight and even after setting the DPI to the larger 120 in Vista, my eyes tired easily. A lower resolution such as 1250×600 would’ve made the screen much more readable. Yes, it wouldn’t have been HD capable, but the GMA500 isnt exactly capable of playing Hi-Def content.
Considering the small size of the P series, I wasn’t sure how well the keyboard would turn out. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. The chiclet style keyboard works very well- in fact, I typed this entire article on it without any issues. Because of the size of the P series, a trackpad is not an option and instead, you have the pointing stick found on Thinkpads. I like the pointing stick as the Thinkpad was my notebook of choice before I switched to Macs and am quite comfortable with it.
The VAIO P is pretty well equipped for its size, however, the decision to include Vista as the standard operating system makes the usability suffer big time. Most netbook manufacturers with Atom CPUs chose Windows XP for a good reason. Vista takes ages to start-up on the VAIO P even though its equipped with an SSD. Once loaded, it works OK while you’re in one application, but try switching between your browser, email client and media player and it’ll start testing your patience. I didn’t run any benchmarks on the VAIO P because this isn’t exactly your number crunching kind of laptop. It feels slow and it is slow.
Battery life is surprisingly good on the VAIO P- I wasn’t expecting much over two hours but I managed to get over three. This was while I was surfing the web mostly, which I think, is probably what this notebook will mainly be used for- along with some office applications.
Overall, the VAIO P series is an excellent piece of engineering that, other than the extremely high-res and small sized screen could be a very usable computer- had Sony decided against Vista. There just inst enough horse power to run something like Vista on the current generation of Atom CPUs. Hopefully Windows 7 or Moblin or some other form of Linux should make the device much more usable. Sure, it still wont run something like Photoshop decently, but it could be ideal for checking emails, creating documents or surfing the web.
The VAIO P is available in black and white colors for the base model which is priced at AED 3495 with a 1.6GHz CPU/1GB RAM and an 80GB Hard Drive. Alternatively, you can also get it in red and golden for the higher price of AED 4995 that has a 1.8GHz CPU/2GB RAM and a 64GB SSD. That might seem overly expensive for a netbook, but this isnt a netbook- at least not by Sony’s definition.