Sony VAIO P Series (Gen 2) Review
The next generation of Sony’s stylish lifestyle PC has a lower price tag and fancy new features, but it’s still expensive for a secondary system.
Price as Reviewed: $899.00
Early last year, Sony threw the netbook world for a loop when it released the original VAIO P series. With a truly unique and compelling 1.4-pound design and a high resolution 8.9-inch, 1600 x 768-pixel screen, the original P was a groundbreaking device, but its sluggish performance and short battery life made it difficult to justify the $999 starting price. Now Sony has added some noteworthy features, improved the performance, upped the storage, and dropped the price by $100, making it worth the look. However, is this niche device worth $899?
The VAIO P’s unique form factor is, by far, its greatest asset. At 9.7 x 4.7 x 0.8 inches, the VAIO P is small enough to fit in a woman’s purse or a man’s long coat pocket. And at 1.4 pounds, it weighs half as much as a netbook, yet has a full-size keyboard that’s fit for touch typists.
If you’re familiar with the original P series, you’ll notice that the most noticeable design difference is the color. While the original P had a classy metal keyboard and deck with tasteful lid colors such as Garnet Red and Onyx Black, the new P has a plastic keyboard and deck that matches its lid, and comes in loud neon shades like lime green and hot pink. Conservative white and black colors are also available.
Keyboard and Pointing Devices
For a netbook this tiny, the VAIO P provides a rather large 88-percent of full-size keyboard with plenty of spacing between its keys. The right Shift key is a little small, but the keyboard’s real problem is its stiffness and complete lack of a palm rest. Despite these drawbacks, the generous key size and spacing allowed us to achieve our typical 80 word-per-minute rate in the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, albeit with a slightly higher 2 percent error rate. Even though the VAIO P is small enough to hold and use while standing, its keyboard is too wide for thumb-only typing.
The VAIO P offers two different pointing devices. A pointing stick sits in the middle of the keyboard and allows users to navigate without removing their fingers from the home row. We found the comfortable texture and impeccable accuracy of Sony’s pointing stick similar to that of Lenovo’s famous TrackPoints.
On the right screen bezel sits a tiny square touchpad perfect for navigating while you’re holding the system in the air (for example, when you’re standing). Left and right mouse buttons are located on the left side of the bezel. We found that, while the touchpad was less accurate than the pointing stick, it was more than adequate for launching programs, web browsing, or controlling videos.
Because it’s so small, parts of the VAIO P do get warm during heavy use. After streaming a web video at full screen for 15 minutes, we measured the keyboard at 96 degrees Fahrenheit and the bottom at 97 degrees. The area below the spacebar clocked in at a cool 86 degrees. We consider temperatures above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable, so this was right on the border.