Nice clutch- said my wife when she saw me carrying the new VAIO P
People generally associate Apple with innovation and technology, however, Sony has also been producing some excellent notebooks of late. Take the Z series for instance- its probably the best and most powerful laptop in a 13” form factor. Equally impressive is their diminutive P series. We looked at the first version of this laptop a good two years back and today, we have the latest model with us- the VPCP115KG
Weighing just over 600grams, the Sony VAIO P continues to be one of the smallest netbooks that you can buy. Not only is it one of the smallest, it also is one of the most feature packed netbooks- although Sony doesn’t like calling it that. Based on the Atom CPU with the Intel GMA 500 graphics controller, the VAIO VPCP115KG ‘s configuration sounds like any other netbook but that is pretty much where the similarities end.
While most netbooks feature a 1024×600 resolution on their 9″ or 10” screen, the Sony VAIO P has a 8” uber high-res screen with a resolution of 1600 x 768 pixels. This can obviously become a bit hard on weaker eyes, so with a press of a button, you can scale the resolution to 1024×600 making the smaller text much more readable.
On the new version of Sony VAIO P, Sony has added quite few interesting tidbits. First of all, besides the pointing stick found on the older models, you now have a trackpad on the right side of the screen and two mouse buttons on the left. This makes sense as you sometimes hold the netbook with it’s screen. However, the very small tracking surface doesn’t allow you to navigate as easily as a regular trackpad.
Other than the new trackpad, the VAIO VPCP115KG also features an accelerometer and motion sensing which allow for rotating the screen and tilting the netbook for things like moving between web pages etc. While that sounds pretty cool, in practice, it becomes a bit of an issue with the netbook registering swipes when you don’t intend to. Thus I turned the swiping features off but the screen rotation can work if you want to use the netbook as a not so convenient ebook reader.
GPS has also been added to the P series now and with some models featuring 3G capabilities, the VAIO VPCP115KG truly becomes a mobile warrior connected anywhere take it with you. Rounding the rest of the specs are a 64GB SSD and 2GB RAM. Again, its pretty impressive to see all of that packed up in a 7” netbook that weighs about 600grams.
I received the shocking pink version from Sony which wouldn’t really be my choice of color. The Sony VAIO P series is available is multiple colors such as green, pink, orange, black and white- which, to me looked the best. On the left side of the VAIO VPCP115KG you have the power charger , a 3.5mm audio output jack, a USB port and a Wi-Fi switch. The front features the SD card and memory stick slots while the right has an additional USB port and the dock connector that expands into a box with VGA and wired networking connections. To the right of the screen, above the trackpad, you have an integrated webcam as well.
The VAIO VPCP115KG is decently balanced for its size- unlike some of the netbooks that seem to tilt over because the screen is heavier than the keyboard. The keys, although a bit small in size are not THAT hard to work with. I wrote this entire review on the VAIO P and although I had a few mistakes, I wasn’t really slowed down due to the keyboard size.
Where the usability does get hit is when using the netbook in your lap purely because there is no space for a palm rest. It thus becomes pretty awkward to operate the pointing stick- especially if you have slightly larger hands. Speaking of the pointing stick, it sometime automatically decides to travel north for short bursts of time. On a flat surface like a table, the Sony VAIO P is much more usable but the idea behind netbooks is comfort in your lap.
Performance on the VAIO P VPCP115KG is a bit sluggish- very much like most Atom based netbooks. We’ve compared it to some of the recent netbooks that we have looked at using Performance Test 7.0
|Sony VAIO P
|Packard Bell DOT S2
As you can see, the VAIO P VPCP115KG performed quite miserably as far as benchmarks are concerned, but in reality, I wont say that it was noticeably slower than most of the Atom based netbooks. In fact, the SSD actually helps a bit in launching applications and loading data over the traditional hard drives found in most netbooks even though the benchmarks suggest otherwise.
Battery life on the Sony VAIO P is a little over three hours which is a bit low compared to recent netbooks with double that. My guess is that the extra high-res screen along with GPS and accelerometer consume more battery and on top of that, you have a smaller sized battery which is rated at 2500mAh/19kw. The VAIO VPCP115KG also got a bit hot on it base- nothing like a MacBook Pro but still a bit uncomfortable for my liking.
At AED 3995/- I think the Sony VAIO P is more of a technology showcase for Sony than anything else. It packs a ton of features in an extremely small foot print. Sadly the usability factor gets hit and thus it caters more towards people who prefer form over function- probably the market that Sony is targeting with it.