Tag Archive | "vaio p"

Lightweight and Mobile-Focused 3G Netbooks (And Alternatives.)

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Long-gone are the days where netbooks were available at the 1KG mark. The Asus 901, Acer A150. Classic 1KG, 8.9” netbooks that worked well as mobile-focused PCs for getting things done almost anywhere. The EeePC 901GO was arguably one of the best mobile bargains around at the time, at least in Europe. No hard drive, sub 1KG, 3G and a great price. Oh how things have changed. All we seem to see now are 10-12” devices at 1.2KG or more with moving hard drives. The 800gm-1KG mark is now a specialist segment.

If you take a long hard look though and are prepared to relax your requirements a little there are a few gems hidden in there that would work well for ultra-mobile fans so I’ve taken a long look at the netbook segment, spoken to a few people (thanks Avram and Sascha) and come up with a shortlist for you. I’ve also taken a look above and below the netbook segment to give you a few alternative options.

Requirements.

Ultra Mobile devices need to be feature-rich, rugged and connected. They are the Swiss army knives of PCs that need to be ready for anything. Getting the best productivity out of any situation is important. 12” devices give great comfortable real-estate. 10” devices can be good value. 7” devices get right under the 1KG mark. Here are some other important features.

  • No Hard Drive. Ideally you don’t want any moving parts at all in a mobile PC. Hard drives and fans can fail or get damaged and even rotating screen hinges need to be thought about very carefully. If an SSD doesn’t come as standard, I’ve looked at the upgrade possibilities.
  • Bright screen. Matt finish. 10 – 12” for comfortable productivity. 7-10” for lighter weight.
  • 3G, Wi-Fi-N and BT 2.x (but not self-upgrade unless the antenna is pre-installed)
  • Long battery life (6+hrs)
  • Lightweight PSU, Car Kit
  • Other useful options – GPS, memory upgrades. Case
  • Latest CPU technology.
  • Weight – 1KG or less. (I’ve looked at devices up to about 1.2KG here.)

The Netbook Shortlist

Based around the 10” form factor, these are the gems that I’ve managed to dig out. Of the 400+ devices that I’ve searched through, these match the requirements the best. Quite amazing that there are really only this many that I would class as truly mobile devices. Note, these devices may not appear in your local market (and there may be others in your local market that I haven’t seen – please lets us know if you find one.)

Stylish 640gm 8” UMPC with 3G, GPS for just 470 Euros…with a Gotcha!

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It’s a Sony Vaio P and in my local online stores I’m seeing this ultra-mobile PC for just 470 Euros. It’s a shock to me because the last time I looked, the Sony Vaio P’s were selling for near 1000 Euros. With Windows Vista Home  edition and a hard drive, you might want to think about performance but even so, it’s rare to find a stylish, 3G-enabled ultra-mobile PC at for this price and weight.

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Our full review of the P-Series is available here.

The ‘gotcha’ is that this offer only seems to be happening in Germany so maybe Sony Germany overestimated the stock requirement and have a few thousand QWERTZ versions in store somewhere. Clearly they can’t be used for any other country and they need to be shifted to make way for Windows 7 versions.

If you’re in Germany though, this isn’t a bad offer at all! I’ve picked out one of the offers from a reputable online retailer. Misco have the VGN-P11Z with 60GB HDD for 474,81. (No affiliation) Amazon.de have the Black VGN-P11 for 532 Euro (affiliate link below)

Sony Vaio VGN-P11Z/Q 8 Zoll UWXGA Netbook (Intel Atom Z520 1,3GHz, 2GB RAM, 60GB HDD, Mobile Intel GMA 500, Vista Home Premium) schwarz

Very slick looking VAIO P cases from Vaja

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vaio p case Vaja hand crafts a lot of really nice looking and premium priced gadget cases among other things. This time they’ve crafted up something wonderful looking for the VAIO P [Portal page][review]. With two different styles to choose from, you can wrap your VAIO P in fine leather and make it even more expensive. There is a full body case (pictured above) and a sleeve (pictured below) that stays on the VAIO P while you use it. There are actually three variations of the full body case. You can customize either of the case styles to your personal color preferences. The sleeve costs $120, and there is one full body case that can be bought for $180 and will ship in 3 business days. All the other styles get customized by you and will take around 20 days to make and run your $200. All of the case options look incredibly beautiful and I should warn you now that if you don’t want to be tempted to drop $200 on a case for your VAIO P, you should not click through to Vaja’s site as their wares might be too appealing to turn down. Don’t feel safe even if you don’t own a VAIO P, they make plenty of other cases as well. Honestly, these cases look magnificent in my opinion.

vaio p case 2[jkkmobile] [pocketables.net]

Quick thoughts about Windows 7 on the VAIO P

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DSC_0028 Before I sent the VAIO P [Portal page][review] back to its home I dropped the beta of Windows 7 on it to see how it would handle the upcoming operating system. As you may have heard around the web, Windows 7 seems to be a bit more snappy than Vista, making it feel more like XP while keeping the nice new features. You may have read in the performance section of the VAIO P review that turning on Aero in Vista brought some very visible sluggishness; well I can’t say that has changed in Windows 7, but it did score a bit better on some preliminary benchmarks and it handled boot/standby/hibernate a good deal better than Vista.

One particularly nice thing about Windows 7 was that it pulled down some updates for the VAIO P right as it was installed. Automatically through Windows Update it let me know that there were a few driver updates available for the chipset (in addition to standard Windows updates) and a few moments later I had them installed. Now that is service!

The biggest improvement from Vista to Windows 7 is the decrease in boot times:

In (shutdown)Out (startup)
Startup/Shutdown10 seconds40 seconds
Hibernate20 seconds27 seconds
Sleep (standby)4 seconds2.5 seconds

Compare that to the Vista based boot times and you’ll note an increase that nearly runs across the board:

In (shutdown)Out (startup)
Startup/Shutdown34 seconds44 seconds
Hibernate42 seconds1:10
Sleep (standby)7 seconds2 seconds

In addition to improved boot times, the VAIO P scored higher with Crystal Mark when running Windows 7. While the Vista based test scored the VAIO P at 27879, I was able to get Windows 7 to score right around 30400. I was glad to see that the VAIO P was able to break 30k even though Windows 7 seemed to handle the SSD a bit more slowly than Vista. This seemed odd to me because Windows 7 is supposed to deal with SSDs more effectively than previous versions of Windows. However Windows 7 in still in beta so they may still be tuning that facet of the OS. But as I mentioned, despite the slight drop in SSD score (Windows 7 running around 10k while Vista scored 11447), it still scored higher than Vista. Aside from a slight increase in all other areas, there was a largely noticeable jump in the OGL score. Vista has been noted to have poor OGL rendering as I believe it emulates the XP version. Whatever the case, it looks like they’ve gone back to the XP version, or brought the component up to speed as I seem to recall OGL scoring over 2000 as opposed to 135 under Vista.

I’m looking forward to the day when Windows 7 will be offered on a computer like the VAIO P instead of the more bulky Windows Vista.

The all-in-one Sony VAIO P review post

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DSC_0048 I just recently finished the last section of the Sony VAIO P review. Many thanks to Dynamism for lending us the unit. The review was done in rolling format, so each section came out at different times over the last few weeks. In addition to a short review summary, this post serves as a hub to access all of our Sony VAIO P review articles as well as any additional VAIO P coverage that we put up while testing the unit.

Summary

DSC_0057 The VAIO P is an extremely small computer for something that uses a laptop form factor. It is very light at 1.4 pounds, and very thin, standing just 20mm high off of the desk while the lid is closed. Packing a 1.86GHz Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and running Windows Vista (specs as tested). The VAIO P uses a completely passive cooling system which means it is totally silent if it is equipped with an SSD. Windows Vista runs well on the device considering its size. Vista is responsive with the specs that we tested and doesn’t get in the way or productivity like it might on some lower powered hardware. The VAIO P doesn’t handle the Aero effect well, turning it on severely hinders the responsiveness of Vista showing an easily visible reduction in performance. Despite its low Aero performance, the VAIO P plays back h.264 encoded media, on its very high pixel density 1600×768 resolution screen, with relatively little issue on Windows Media Player. Most people will want to turn up their DPI and browser font settings to make the screen more easily readable.  Flash player playback works well through sites like YouTube and Gametrailers, but HD Flash playback was too choppy to be considered watchable.

The overall build quality is good. The unit feels like one solid piece (albeit very light). Some of the smaller details could be a bit more solid; the wireless radio switch and power slider are just a bit wobbly. The mouse keys provide an excellent tactile and audible click, but feel a bit loosely attached to the unit as well. The hinges have a very light level of strength making the screen very easy to move, this might not be desirable for those that work in a turbulent environment like a car or plane as the screen could move around if shaken too much.

The keyboard is probably the smallest it could be while still offering a very great typing experience. The chiclet style keys make typing comfortable, and it is very easy to pick up. One issue with the keyboard is a tiny right shift key which is placed right next to the up arrow and can lead to some very annoying typing experiences. The nub-mouse works well, but I had to disable tap-to-click because it was easy for the mouse to accidentally register a tap while typing (the mouse is very close to the G, H, and B keys). Reducing the sensitivity of the tap-to-click feature could fix this, but a more intuitive software implementation is possible and would be more desirable.

For much more detailed information on the Sony VAIO P, please feel free to peruse our entire VAIO P review and check lower for additional coverage.

The VAIO P that we reviewed had specs only currently available outside Japan through importers such as Dynamism.

Review Coverage

Additional Coverage

Long term hardware impressions – Sony VAIO P

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DSC_0028 The Sony VAIO P is an impressively small unit that manages to pack some relatively powerful hardware into a small, envelope shaped footprint. Though it may not be practically pocketable like Sony wanted us to think, it is extremely light weight and slim. Let’s begin with the hardware tour, as usual.

Hardware Tour

DSC_0013 Front (right to left): Wireless radio switch, SD card slot, Sony Memory Stick slot, power slider, battery LED indicator, SSD activity LED indicator.

DSC_0011 Right: Kensington lock, USB 2.0, port replicator connector.

DSC_0046 Back: Nothing but hinges.

DSC_0012 Left: A/C adapter, USB 2.0, 3.5mm headphone jack, passive cooling vent.

Size Comparison

DSC_0021 DSC_0022

DSC_0023 DSC_0024

DSC_0025 DSC_0026

DSC_0027 DSC_0056

DSC_0057

As you can see above, I have several comparison shots of the VAIO P with the HP Mini 1000 [Portal page] and the Sony VAIO UX180 [Portal page]. It wasn’t until I set my iPhone down next to the VAIO P that it really hit me. The VAIO P is really quite tiny. If you can imagine, it is just as long as the iPhone, but wider. It has the footprint of a super wide iPhone. It isn’t quite as thin as the iPhone, but it is certainly the thinnest mobile computer I’ve ever used.

(continue reading on page 2…)

Long term software impressions – Sony VAIO P

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DSC_0037 My review journey continues with the Sony VAIO P. The unit is quite pleasing to use, even if it is running Windows Vista. A quick refresher on the VAIO P’s basic specs for those of you who are just joining us:

  • 1.86GHz Atom CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • 1600×768 screen
  • Windows Vista

Find more detailed specs on the VAIO P’s Portal page.

DSC_0020 So we have the top end VAIO P running Windows Vista. Certainly, because the OS is the center of everything that happens within the computer, people tend to get concerned when a company makes the choice to put a heavier OS (like Vista) on a mobile device. Luckily, the VAIO P has the specs to run the OS like it should be run, in the background, and not taking up the majority of resources. As the VAIO P is sitting here idle, the task manager is reporting that 1GB of RAM is in use. Now the question is, do you see the RAM as half full, or half empty? In all seriousness, I wouldn’t want to be caught running Vista with just 1GB or RAM, but then again, maybe that’s why Sony opted to put 2GB of RAM in the VAIO P. It isn’t as bad as it sounds though, if you were running less than 2GB of RAM, the OS would probably make more utilization of the page file (which would be a nice alternative if you are using an SSD). But in the end, Vista performs well visibly, so long as you don’t turn on Aero. Windows and apps are quick to load with no hang time.

Turning on Aero really hammers the system and drops performance quite noticeably. I would attribute this to the particular processing that is required to render the transparent Aero effect (and with no dedicated GPU, all of that processing has to be run on the CPU). Don’t worry though, the VAIO P is quite snappy when it comes to other tasks. Have a look at the performance section if you are interested in some additional details.

As I mentioned, the VAIO P has a zippy 128GB SSD for storage. However, out of the box my VAIO P only had 92GB available and only displays as having a maximum of 119GB. This is after Dynamism installed an awesomely bloatware-free image of Vista. So where is the extra 9GB of space that seem to be missing from my drive? Sony has a good track record of installing recovery partitions on computers that don’t have disk drives. This is useful because they don’t need to ship a DVD with the computer, and you don’t need to own a DVD drive. I’ve used the recovery partition on my Sony VAIO UX180 many times with great success. In fact, I used to do so on a fairly regular basis to keep my computer running in tip-top shape. There are ways to reclaim that space if you really want it, but for the majority of users, I would leave it there in case you want to restore back to the VAIO P’s factory state.

SSD space (1) But what about the other 27GB of space that is already used on the drive? There are several things that are most likely to be consuming this space. First and foremost is the operating system itself. Vista certainly isn’t the slimmest OS in town. Second is probably the page file. Beyond those two, there is always the recycling bin, and hibernation file. All of these can be trimmed down, it is just a matter of what you are willing to give up.

I always have a feeling in the back of my mind that dropping Vista in favor of XP on the VAIO P would take it from ‘better-than-netbook’ performance, up to ‘real-laptop’ performance.

(continue reading on page 2…)

Weekly Netbook Roundup 2/16

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Welcome back to another edition of the WRN roundup, here is some interesting items from this week:

  • HP Mini 1000 accessories — Brad from Liliputing points us to an HP Mini 1000 [Portal page] site with accessories available for the Mini 1000. A few things are available to order today but the VGA adapter and Mobile Mini Drive still aren’t available yet. Check out our Mini 1000 MIE coverage here.
  • Sony Vaio P battery life: Standard vs. Extended — Jenn of Pocketables.net continues here thorough coverage of the VAIO P with tests of the 2- and 4-cell batteries. Click through for a full chart featuring the length that the batteries lasted while running different tasks. While the 2-cell battery probably won’t satisfy your daily computing needs, the 4-cell managed to last just over 6 hours browsing the web (with one hour of that taken up by playing a flash video).

Weekly Netbook Roundup 2/9

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Welcome to this weeks edition of the Weekly Netbook Roundup. Lets see the interesting things that have gone on in the netbook space since we last spoke.

  • Sony Vaio P (VGN-P588E) performance and benchmarks — Jenn from Pocketables.net takes the VAIO P for a spin and shows us lots of good stats on how the computer performs. Some people don’t think the VAIO P is a netbook, but for some reason we included it here in the WNR. Controversy!
  • Hands on with the Acer Aspire One D150 – Video — Sascha from netbooknews.de has a good hands on video of the Acer Aspire One D150. He doesn’t seem to be thrilled with the keyboard and says he is disappointed at the quality of the Aspire One D150 considering how successful the original Aspire One was, and that this is a second-gen netbook.
  • Netbook growth leads to surge in Windows XP sales — Despite many netbook makers offering Linux flavors of their netbooks, XP is hugely popular, effecting OS sales charts on all PC sales, not just netbooks. “In December, 13.7% of all laptops sold, and 11.2% of all computers were running Windows XP.”.
  • More rumored Dell Mini 10 details, colors surface — More information on Dells upcoming Mini 10 netbook. Apparently some leaked information (which isn’t confirmed to be true yet) has indicated that the Mini 10 will be available with two different display options, 1024 x 576 and 1366 x 768. Also contained in the leak is the option of 1.3GHz or 1.6GHz CPU, 3 or 6-cell battery, and something referred to as a “DVD slice” which sounds… interesting.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next time to the Weekly Netbook Roundup next monday!

Does P really stand for pocketable?

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The Sony VAIO P [Portal page] was a big deal at this year’s CES. Sony teased us with visions of a computer that would fit in our pocket. While the device is certainly small, I don’t think it is a realistic pocket machine (even the flash ad on sony.jp seems to agree). My three year old Sony VAIO UX [Portal page] is more pocketable, which is why I was somewhat baffled when they released the P which isn’t even close by comparison. Here are several pictures from Engadget China poking fun at the pocketability of the VAIO P that I chortled at. I find the one with the desktop to be particularly funny. First shot is official from Sony of course.

sony_pokepc3  sony_pokepc4 sony_pokepc5

Liliputing says no to the Vaio P

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vaioP500-9Liliputing, one of my favorite netbook blogs, isnt going to cover the Vaio P on the site due to it’s cost. Netbooks are built on the promise of low cost and value for money. The Vaio is most definately aiming somewhere else and misses that low cost mark.

Minus points too for the pointer and the screen res from Liliputing.

Hands on with the Sony Vaio P.

Vaio P – what about the battery life?

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The tech world is practically in a state of euphoria because of the new Vaio P, and its not hard to see why. Its an amazing looking small netbook, with quality components and features. What more do you need? The size comes with drawbacks however. While Sony is boasting 4 hours battery life which practically every news site around the world has relayed, these battery estimates are never accurate. While it may be in theory possible to squeeze that amount of processing out of the device it wont be under “optimal” conditions. I just received an email from Dynamism announcing that the device is up and ready to be ordered on their site and they add further confirmation to this: “The integrated battery has an optimal 4-hour runtime (2.5 hours under normal use).” I for one actually expected a bit better from Sony, but we will still have to wait for some reviews. Bonus points to Dynamism for being honest though.



Top 10 Ultra Mobile PCs