Sony was late to the netbook party, slapping down the Vaio W Series earlier this summer after initially slating the micro–laptops and rolling out a super–expensive, high–end version, the Vaio P, instead. So does the Vaio name mean this is a netbook worth unburdening your bank account for? Or is it just a pricey alternative to cheaper, better netbooks? Read our full Sony Vaio W series netbook review and we’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.
Let’s be abundantly clear. When you lift the Sony Vaio W netbook from its box, it’s hard not to be seduced by its slick looks and, well, that name. After all, Vaio usually means top drawer style and machines loaded with more treats than the shop at Cadbury’s World.
But therein lies the issue with the Sony Vaio W. The words style over substance are often overused, but in this case are bang on the money. The Vaio W is the glamour model of netbooks. Good to look at, but nothing going on upstairs.
You can’t deny that the Sony Vaio W netbook does look the part though. From the Vaio logo to the isolated keys and faux metal finish, it does look a million miles hotter than your average micro laptop. However, even the looks present some issues. The keys may not sit flush next to each other, but typing is a real drag and feels clunky and at times unresponsive. There’s no doubting it’s better than a basic Eee PC, but at £430, we were expecting something more akin to the Eee PC Seashell.
That price tag, too, becomes a real concern when you start rooting around and looking at the specs. The Vaio W netbook is essentially no better than your basic machine: 1GB of RAM, 160GB HDD, Intel Atom and Windows XP. And while Vaio media software is a nice addition, it adds nothing major and helps to drain the battery in no time. We managed to squeeze a frankly pathetic 3 hours out of it. And all that from some light web browsing (no video), typing in Word Pad and playing with Vaio Media Plus on a standard battery setting.
With the MSI Wind U115 offering a massive 8 hours battery (admittedly at a greater cost), the Sony Vaio W netbook really does have a lot of work to do. Slapping a Vaio logo on a standard netbook and charging £430 is poor form. Here’s hoping the next Sony netbook efforts can offer more, for less.