Sony Vaio P: First Impressions

Vaio P at WebstockYes, I’m typing this post on a Sony Vaio P. I’m currently at the wonderful Webstock conference in no-so-sunny Wellington*, and Sony kindly lent me the teeny PC to test during the trip.

Physically the Vaio P is gorgeous in both look and feel. It’s really well put together, and the particular model I have is a wonderful white colour with teeny sparkles if you look closely. The screen is amazing, and the keyboard is well sized and spaced for rudimentary touch typing.

Still, I’m still not overly impressed. I know I’m not meant to compare this with any ‘traditional’ laptop PC, but for the price (NZ$2,300), you can’t really avoid the comparison. In my opinion, you’d be better off spending $2k on the lightest notebook you can get your hands on, or save $1,500 and get a ‘regular’ netbook like a EEE or Dell Mini 9.

You see netbooks (and this is a netbook, no matter what Sony says), are fine for non-intensive tasks, like writing this blog post for example. I’m loving the Vaio P just for this: it’s tiny, fits in my manbag, and does everything I need around the web – email, blogging, twitter. But I wouldn’t pay north of two grand for the pleasure.

Sony also have themselves to blame, talking up the Vaio P’s 1600×720 display as great for watching video. But trying to watch even a standard-definition video was like watching an old-timey slideshow. Gizmodo reports that attempting HD video is a complete no-go:


It could handle anything in the resolution ballpark of 320×240 without failure, but 640×480 fullscreen video would lag and 1280×720 video (from vids created on my Kodak Zi6 and from YouTube) would freeze within a few frames. Locally stored, non-HD DivX movies either ran in slow-mo or lost every third frame. The moral of the story: If Sony is going to be adamant about their product not being a netbook, adequate video playback is a must.


So the unfortunate conclusion is “all show and no go”. Obviously one shouldn’t expect much “go” from your cut-down netbook hardware, but at $2,300 Sony have priced this one well outside the range that one could comfortably accept this reduced level of functionality. Halve the price and you have a lovely netbook, still with a significant premium, which is acceptable for the build quality and brand.

*Ok ok, I’m being mean about Wellington. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous, and the rain can be blamed on the passing ex-tropical-cyclone.

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