Over the last few years the computing world has been flooded with netbooks and ultra portable PC’s. It seems to be becoming a tradition that the screen size on such machines should be between 8.9” and 12.1”. Any bigger than that and it becomes a fully-fledged Notebook. However, what about any smaller? Just over a year ago Sony released their VAIO P series notebook (or portable PC), which feature an 8” ultra-widescreen. Well as you may have guessed, I am not writing about a computer that was released nearly 18 months ago. The Sony VAIO P series has recently seen a much-needed refresh, adding not only a range of vivid colours, but also a number of fantastic new features.
The first of these features that immediately caught my eye was the inclusion of an accelerometer. An interesting decision which calls into question the purpose of the device. Usually, an accelerometer would indicate a certain type of gaming commonly found on handheld devices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. So it this more of a portable entertainment machine than a netbook?
According to Sony, the accelerometer is intended to allow users to flip through the pages of a PDF document or navigate the web without the need for any buttons. It’s an interesting proposition, though I can’t at this point recognise any added convenience than this brings over simply using keystrokes or mouse clicks particularly when browsing the web. On the other hand, the screen rotating functionality brought about by the inclusion of this hardware makes reading such web pages and documents a whole lot easier considering the display is extremely wide, but equally as extremely shallow.
In addition the new accelerometer there is a great deal of extra connectivity to be found in the refreshed Sony VAIO P Series. With GPS, a Digital Compass and 7.2Mbps 3G built in to the tiny Sony VAIO it really is the perfect travel companion. Particularly when you consider it weighs a mere 600g, it has all the credentials to become the ultimate ‘on-the-go’ PC and in the world of fashion declaring that the smaller and the more ‘adorable’ the better, the super slim VAIO P Series with its dizzying array of colours on offer, is well on its way to becoming every fashionista’s must have tech accessory. Those of you who prefer to stay indoors though, will be pleased to know that the PC features WLAN 802.11 b/g/n for high standard Wi-Fi connectivity.
On other Sony VAIO machines that have flooded the market of late, we have seen the inclusion of several functionality buttons. That theme continues with the new P series, which features quick WEB access, assist and change resolution buttons so you no longer need to trawl through menus to find what you’re looking for. In terms of keyboard, you’ll be pleased to know that for such a small device, there is a reasonably sized keyboard that is surprisingly spacious. There are also additional mouse buttons, which are placed conveniently to assist the user flipping pages when reading in portrait position. Again, this questions the purpose, insisting that the device is also a capable e-reader.
So, it’s difficult what to make of this new Sony VAIO P series. I was never a fan of the previous model because I felt it really just was a shrunken netbook. However, the upgrade seems to have given the series a real identity as a mobile entertainment device including great capabilities for high-res movies, e-books as well as web browsing. Plus, Windows 7 is a worthy operating system for such a device and the large choice of colours (black, white, pink, green and orange) it’s perfectly customisable too. However, with a price point well in excess of £500, it’s hardly cheap and that really is a real downer on the whole machine. Although the purpose is greatly different, for the same money you can get a 14″ Sony VAIO E Series laptop with the latest Intel Core Processors inside. But as I said, it would be vastly different in usage.