Sony Vaio P Series (VPCP11S1E/P) Ultra Portable Notebook Review
In this era of three hundred pounds and five hundred pounds tablets, it is definitely quite bewildering to know that Sony has still trying to push out a secondary £800 device that is atom powered. The 1st Vaio P series mini netbook had rave reviews. The miniature size and ruthless design was likable, but the price and absence of trackpad was not very compelling. Yes, you are reading it right, Sony does not seem to be ready yet to give up on its eight inch Vaio P series, with the latest measure to update the 1.3 pound mini netbook with a vaguely different construction and a quicker Atom Z560 processor, even an accelerometer and a touchpad. It is packed with some real cool functionality. So, does the meek retooling and a dash of new aptitude make the VOIP a much enhanced product, or even better, worth the hefty £800? Read further and find out.
When it comes to the design part, it’s basic form factor is untouched. There is no doubt that the VAIO P’s sleek and elongated form factor remains to be one of the most exclusive looking netbooks in the air. It managed to still turns heads. This P Series VPCP11S1E/P notebook shows off some outstandingly petite measurements of (H x W x D) 245 x 20 x 120mm. At just 632 grams, it is feather light to carry in your hand bag, and for men, you might even be able to fit it in a big pocket, but let us face the fact, no one is going to put this in a jeans pocket except for those models marketing this thing.
Despite its extremely portable style, it is quite hard to use in some situations, it is difficult to be used on a lap or while lying down on a couch. This is mainly because there is no palm rest.
Sony has tweaked the aesthetic a little, and removing the glossy lid is a welcome act. This new VAIO P Series shouts “look at me!” in its three most colourful incarnations: electric orange, neon green, hot pink. If you are a little more self-effacing, white and black versions are also on offer. It is not rocket science to figure out why we prefer the white and black options since the colour appears on more than just the lid. Though it still does not have the shiny and shimmering silver look anymore, the P is still a cutie.
The P Series notebook’s 8” display boasts a mammoth 1600 x 768 pixels resolution. Now, this is something of a mixed blessing, as such a high resolution on a tiny display means that you must really strain your eyes to have any idea of what is going on. It is not a patch on the excellent iPad screen, though, which could easily be construed as an alternative device to this. You will also find a zoom tool on the keyboard for the default resolution. We were left wishing if only Sony had traded the glossy screen for a matte one, it would have made it much easier to use outdoors. There is ambient light sensor that manages to adjust the brightness accurately.
Taking its dimensions into consideration, the Sony Vaio VPCP11S1E/P netbook has a surprisingly large keyboard with isolated keys. Typing in its keyboard will not exactly be a pleasant experience, but, the chiclet layout will be comfortable enough. Though the plastic keys are a bit clicky, they are just fine for firing off short emails and with little practice, you will be touch typing with very few typos. Arguably more annoying is the loud click the mouse buttons make, which will draw yet more attention to your endeavours in public places.
The petite dimensions also mean that there is no room left over for a standard track-pad. However, Sony has managed to sneak in a small, pseudo track-pad to the right of the screen, which is dubbed as the Mobile Nav grip. You can even use a pointer stick to navigate around, which is smack in the middle of the keyboard, and long left and right mouse buttons below the keys. It is still a significant compromise compared even to a netbook with a touchpad, though, or a touchscreen for that matter; for all ThinkPad users may disagree.
Ports and Slots:
Moving on to ports and slots, this P Series netbook still lacks a solid selection. It only has two USB jacks, a headphone socket, SD and MemoryStick slots. Sony has to be fair here the VGA / Ethernet dongle is a standard, expected port and should have really included this in the box for its £800 price tag.
Connectivity wise, look no further than the inclusion of integrated HSDPA, 802.11bgn WLAN, Bluetooth plus a 7.2Mbits/sec 3G modem. The P Series has almost every conceivable feature you would demand of a mobile PC. The replicator is also necessary if you want to connect the P Series on a wired Ethernet connection.
Moving on to the insides, it is fair to say that the Sony P series VPCP11S1E/P 8-inch Laptop Netbook has gone through a small makeover; like a Botox maybe. Sony has broke up with the 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z520 CPU, and is now dating the slightly faster Atom Z540, which is clocked 1.86GHz. We can hardly call it great, but this P series notebook keeps pace with the Web browsing sans any sluggishness, and sure will manage with the tasks of emailing document editing, and other negligible ones without much hassle. To be clear, we can say that this netbook is good for minor tasks. Sony provides the P series with a quicker Z560 Atom processor for some extra cost.
When it comes to storage, the Sony VPCP11S1E/P comes with a 64GB flash drive. As you know, this is not a great amount of storage, especially once the operating system and pre-installed software have had their way with it. Only 30GB of space is left on the 64GB SSD when it is booted it for the first time. You can remove Accuweather’s widget, Webcam Companion 3, ArcSoft Magic-i, Shutterfly PhotoBooks, and finally Evernote for VAIO, which will help speed things up and make some space on the drive. You can also boot the Splashtop instant on OS by hitting the Web shortcut, but the truth here is that you probably never will. The Assist Key will launch the VAIO Care; it is a nice utility to tweak the settings.
However, it is still probably as much space as you might need, this notebook is not really powerful enough for you to enjoy heaps of video content, and unfortunately will not play games.
When it comes to graphics, the performance of Sony VPCP11S1E/P was embarrassingly bad. Even in this streamlined form, though, it is hardly a world-beater. When a 720p YouTube video of Justin Bieber on The Late Show is pulled up, it played rather smoothly with only a few pauses here and there, and obviously that is something an Intel Atom N450 powered notebook cannot afford to do. HD YouTube clips are a no-go and the BBC iPlayer’s high quality videos are not smooth in windowed or full screen mode. And a 1080p video could not manage to play without looking like a total slide-show.
It also takes several seconds to resume from standby. But it is not unusable. When you are working in Word, for example (and note that Office Starter will be included), it is as fast and responsive as you need it to be.
In addition, a VGA Webcam with a 0.3-megapixel resolution is embedded into the screen bezel of Sony Vaio VPCP11S1E/P Laptop.
On initial loading, the word ‘slow’ seems too kind. Sloth-like, glacial and sluggish are more likely to spring to mind. From cold the device takes a leisurely minute and a half to be ready to use. We do attribute a bit of the lag to the amount of crap-ware that comes on the system. Sony tries to make up for some of these shortcomings by including such software as a 60-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2010, Microsoft Office Starter 2010, Microsoft Silverlight, a Sony photo-organizer suite, and a note-creation and organization suite (Evernote).
As we had mentioned in the introduction, another new feature that has been included is the built-in accelerometer, which detects when the Vaio P series has been turned on its side, and flips the display accordingly, just like the good ol’ mobile phones. Note that, the netbook will do this only in certain situations, for instance, while viewing Web pages in Internet Explorer or even while viewing documents in Word or Adobe Reader. The VAIO P also takes advantage of the accelerometer with a new flick function; when you are in Internet Explorer, you can tilt the P to the left to go back and to the right to go forward. It is a fairly useful trick if you happen to be carrying the netbook somewhere or sitting on the couch with it, but it just does not work in enough programs. This Accelerometer feature, sure will turn VPCP11S1E/P into an considerable alternative to an e-book reader. Yet again, we found ourselves wishing it had a touch screen for turning pages. This notebook also supports a GPS based compass and location finder applications for finding your way around.
As you can expect, the small speakers are quite tinny, they are incredibly weak and are outperformed by many a mobile phone where volume and clarity are concerned. However, Sony does include a pretty nice set of ear buds in the box for compensation.
The Battery life remains to be the area where the P Series falls awfully short of other notebooks. It only has a four cell, 19Wh battery, courtesy of its tiny dimensions. The manufacturer claims that you will be able to enjoy three and a half hours of battery life on a full charge, which, we assume is not much for a portable device. And, Sony’s claim seems to be fairly accurate, the P series device lasted three hours and twenty five minutes in our test of light usage.
Warranty and Energy Rating:
Sony offers a yearlong international warranty that includes a year of toll-free technical assistance. The P-Series earns an EPEAT Gold and a 5.0 EnergyStar rating; it is also compliant with the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) specification.
When it comes down to just portability, the VPCP11S1E/P has some competition, but if you can manage its extremely high price tag and usability niggles is something to think long and hard about. Frankly, for this price, you can get a netbook with 5 times the performance of the P-Series, or a netbook for half the price with better endurance and ergonomics. Overall, it is a gadget especially for those that have the cash to burn on an expensive, though striking little netbook. But apart from it not being a gadget for the lots, we would still like to see it gat a touch screen and more than 4hrs of battery life. It sure has some cool stuff happening here. Cool stuff worth £800? Now, that is your call.
Sony Vaio VPCP11S1E/P Laptop – Technical Specification Table
|Model Name||Sony Vaio P Series (VPCP11S1E/P)|
|Display technology||VAIO Display Plus|
|Display diagonal size||8.0 inch|
|Maximum resolution||1600 x 768 pixels|
|Dimension (W x D x H)||245 x 120 x 19.8 mm|
|Colours available||Electric orange, Neon green, Hot pink, White and Black|
|Operating System||Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium (32-bit)|
|Chipset||Intel® System Controller Hub US15W Chipset|
|Processor||Intel® Atom™ Processor Z540|
|Power and Performance||Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology|
|Processor Speed||1.86 GHz|
|L2/L3 Cache (KB)||512|
|Frontside Bus (MHz)||533|
|Memory Speed (MHz)||Memory Speed (MHz)|
|Memory Type||DDR2 SDRAM|
|Hard Drive Capacity (GB)||Hard Drive Capacity (GB)|
|Graphic Processor||Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500|
|Speaker||Built-in Stereo Speakers
|Webcam||0.3 megapixels MOTION EYE® 640 x 480 pixels|
16.5mm Key Pitch
|Other features||Instant On
Auto Luminance Control
|Special Buttons||Quick WEB, Assist, Change Resolution Button|
Home Network: VAIO Media Plus
Microsoft: Internet Explorer 8, Windows Live Essentials
Office Application: Adobe® Reader® 9, Microsoft® Office Starter 2010
Photo/Video: PMB VAIO Edition
Remote Keyboard with PlayStation 3 & Remote Play with PlayStation 3
VAIO Transfer Support, VAIO Update, VAIO Smart network
|Network connectivity||Ethernet (RJ-45 Direct Port)
Wireless LAN Type: 802.11 b/g/n
Wireless LAN Max. Date Rate (Mbps): 150 (RX)/ 150 (TX)
WWAN Module: Qualcomm Gobi 2000
WWAN Download/Upload speeds: 7.2Mbps / 2Mbps
Bluetooth: Ver. 2.1+EDR
Bluetooth Range (m): Max 10m
Bluetooth Max. Data Rate (Mbps): Max. 2.1 Mbps
GPS Function: S-GPS + eCompass
|I/O ports||2 x USB 2.0 (Type A)
Memory Stick™ Slot: 1: M.S. PRO-HG (Duo Only)
Memory Stick™ Function: 8bit PRO-HG MagicGate(MGR)
Headphone Jack: 1: Stereo Mini Jack
SD Card Slot
|Security features||McAfee (60 days free virus update), Norton Online BackUp Trial|
|Standard Battery||Li-Ion (Sony EG cell) VGP-BPS23|
|Battery Life time (hours)||5|
|Battery Charge time (hours)||3.5|
|Accessories||Spare pointing stick caps