Sony Vaio P is not a netbook


Sony’s Vaio P (not a netbook) netbook is on display at the Sony Style store and over lunch I went to go check it out.  It’s a beautiful piece of engineering and design, but considerably under-powered and way over priced.  I found the keyboard to be manageable and the screen was really beautiful though definitely small for the 1600 x 768 screen resolution.

Build quality was solid though these seem like pre-production models (no number just xxxx) and I would hope to see it improve even more as release units arrive. The mouse pointer system is similar to what lenovo has on the thinkpad, but the button layout is harder to reach. I found the trackpoint device was also pretty slow though I tried a second P and it was a bit better. Still not anything close to the relative prevision I’ve become accustomed to on the X61 I use for work.

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After a few minutes of playing around just testing the keyboard and seeing what was installed on the system, it feels slow.  Perhaps due to Vista though more likely a result of the slower 1.33GHz processor (with Vista).

In theory this is a terrific machine, but it seems like you are really just paying the Sony tax for styling here rather than getting anything serious from a performance perspective which is pretty disappointing.  A device that costs way more than 2x what the standard netbook costs should deliver more than simply a pretty package.

Do you need or even want an instant-on netbook?

There’s been a good deal of chatter and even video posted lately about Hyperspace, Phoenix Technologies instant-on OS for netbooks. Sony seems to have felt the pressure as well launching the Sony Vaio P with their XMB start-up option.

In both cases, you get a limited OS but access to things you are most likely to want to check quickly – email, web, voip music etc … It sounds good though as I’ve thought about my own usage, I don’t actually turn the machine off. My laptops and netbook are basically always on. I put things in standby when they go in my bag for my commute and even when I’m heading to the airport. I’ve never felt that the limited loss of battery life was substantial enough to be concerned with or something that warranted turning the computer off to conserve.

According to liliputing, the boot time savings is about 30 seconds on a Lenovo S10 they tested recently. AllThingsD recently gave this a test as well:

“It’s misleading to say that the Phoenix HyperSpace products offer a faster way to start up your computer, because they don’t actually open Windows, which is your computer’s heart and soul. Instead, they offer a primitive, bare-bones user interface that relies on Web-based applications. For example, you can send and receive email, but only by using a Web-based email program like Gmail or Hotmail. Documents must be created using a program like Google Docs, and when you watch videos, you must use a player like YouTube rather than something like Windows Media Player or QuickTime. Photos can be viewed either via a photo Web site like Flickr or in the HyperSpace browser. Nothing like Word or PowerPoint is available in this slimmed-down environment.”[AllThingsD]

If something like an email needs immediate (of course a very relative term) attention I’ve got my phone. Otherwise I think waiting the few extra moments will give me to tools to deal with a situation more effectively.

The ultimate netbook?

I was quite pleased to see Sascha show his NC10 and confirm my own purchase decision.  Seems he agrees that the Samsung NC10 remains the current king and that battery and keyboard are the two features which strongly contribute to a solid mobile experience.  I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have to be conservative with my use or consider when I’ll next top up with this computer which truly is a first for me.

This video from Scoble is a great capture of a conversation on Netbooks, Vista, XP licensing and the Sony Vaio P – well worth the 10 minutes.