Sony Vaio P11Z Review

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Tappy
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Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Tappy » 18 Sep 2009, 14:04

Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Specifications:
8” UWXGA (1600x768) X-black LCD LED
Intel Atom Z520 1.33GHz
2GB DDR2-533 SDRAM
Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500
60GB Serial ATA 4200rpm HDD
Integrated 3G Mobile Broadband
Wireless LAN IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Windows Vista Home Premium and XMB

Price:
Assuming I recieve the £150 Cashback, it cost £410 during an offer weekend at Cdiscount.
The extended battery cost £120 from Amazon.

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Summary:
The P11Z represents the smallest laptop in the Vaio series filling the role of an Ultra Mobile PC. Designed for ultimate portability whilst retaining business functionality, the specifications of the P11Z fit its role well. It features a high resolution screen, ideal for multiple windows or viewing of large spread sheets, yet it only weighs a very light 0.64kg and measures just 25cms long and 12cms deep, the compact dimensions possible by the omission of a trackpad. The 2GBs of RAM allow it to run Windows Vista, yet its 1.33GHz Atom processor may leave the P11Z lacking power at times.

Right, enough of that impersonal executive summary stuff…

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The Look:
It looks fantastic. If I want to feel warm and fuzzy, I need just close the lid and pick it up in my hand. The glossy lid does pick up finger prints and scuffs quickly, but that is outweighed by how nice it looks. And the underside looks as great as the top, due to Sony’s fanless design. Opening the lid reveals a well proportioned keyboard with a layout familiar to laptop users.

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Performance:
It is immediately apparent that the weak point in the package is the processor. That being said, 1.33GHz is no slouch, it runs Vista amicably and booting up from zero to opening programs in Windows takes just over 3 minutes. But where the Atom struggles is when it tries to do a few things at once. A vigorous virus scan halts a computer with twice its power, so I am always conscious of whether a program is using the processor in the background.

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The anomalous 5.9 graphics rating did mean it came running Vista with all the visual effects turned on which didn’t help performance much. Even with that turned off, complicated Flash games stutter and whether it’s the processor, Vista or the Intel GMA 500 doing a poor impression of a graphics card, any game needing 3d rendering is unplayable. It wouldn’t even play WoW on the lowest settings, which I thought most netbooks could do. But this is a machine less than 5 inches long and isn’t designed for gaming. And if you must, a quick test with my Steam games library had the Half-Life engine running with no problems.

On the positive side, the Vaio can do everything I (and probably the designers) want it to. It browses with ease and runs Office with no problems, and will do both, multiple times over, at the same time. BBC iPlayer and YouTube are fine, and watching a video is as it’s supposed to be. It can run Aero, if you’re so inclined, and the resolution is fantastic. And whilst doing all this, its performance indistinguishable from a laptop four times the cost and size (yeah, I’m looking at you X620.)

Battery:
Casual browsing whilst on a wireless connections gives me just over two hours of battery life. This is more synonymous to a gaming laptop battery life, but it is worth bearing in mind that the battery must be significantly smaller in this Vaio to fit it in, yet it still has all the components to run. And having all the settings on performance rather than battery saving doesn’t help. Although the power brick is so small that it’s hardly a hassle to have it nearby. For an extended journey there is also the option of the extended battery for around £120 which gives me over 4 hours life.

Functionality:
The keyboard is very comfortable to use and is similar to other Vaios (and Macbooks) in utilizing the Isolation design. It features all the keys you would expect and useful functions such as Page Down and Home are operated by an Fn key which is conveniently positioned next to them allowing very swift access. The cursor is controlled using a pointing stick (or nipple!) and with the aid of three buttons at the base of the keypad, the middle one allowing for scrolling a window when held down and the stick is moved. These keys are well positioned so that one handed or two handed operation are as natural as one another. Of course if you find this a bit too fiddly, you can always attach a mouse, the only downside being how silly it looks when it’s bigger than the computer!

Something else worth mentioning is the hard disk. It comes with 60GBs, which after operating systems and pre installed software, you’re left with little over 20GBs. Which suits me fine, but music / media heavy users might struggle with this.

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Connectivity:
The machine has two usb ports, one on either side and an earphone jack. There’s a Sony port which allow you to plug in an external block which houses the LAN connection and serial port. There is also a MS Duo and SD card reader on the front and that’s about it, but then again, that’s all I need. A HDMI port would have been impressive, but now I’m dreaming!

It also features WiFi, Bluetooth and a slot for a SIM Card so you can use the integrated 3G modem, which when I tried it out had me connected at 7.2Mpbs and seemed to work well. There’s also GPS, which I would have tested but I didn’t know how! I’m sure it works. There’s also an inbuilt camera and microphone.

XMB:
Sony Cross Media Bars are taking over my home, everything seems to have them and this Vaio is no exception. The Sony Media Plus is controlled by one within windows, so you can view your music and videos in a media centre-esque way. But the useful XMB is part of the instant on package, where instead of waiting for windows to boot up, you can just click this button and be greeted with an XMB within a matter of seconds. Again you can look at your media, but the most useful part is the Firefox internet browser it allows access to. Meaning if you want to check something on the internet quickly, you can. The downside, however, is that this browser seems a little weak. In all the times I’ve used it, I’ve eventually hit the point where the webpage has been too much and has caused the Vaio to freeze, and since it’s not backed up by Windows to get it out of this mess, you just have to turn it off.

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Conclusion:
All in all, I’m very happy with the Vaio P. Despite sharing many of the components, I can feel confident that I’m not using a dreaded netbook, but something a little different. The high resolution and ability to run Vista were really features I was after and part of my hopes that when Windows 7 comes along, maybe some newer games will be possible. And if not, I’ll still be happy.

Pros:
*Looks and size.
*Quality and function.
*High resolution screen.
*With the cash back, it can be found for low prices.

Cons:
*Very expensive options for better processors and storage.
*Small hard drive.
*Low battery life.
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Dax_Inside » 07 Oct 2009, 17:42

Great review, thankyou.

Looking forward to seeing how Windows 7 runs on this and other netbooks aswell. I currently own an Asus eee 1005ha with XP and i might upgrade if its better than vista.
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby EviL Ras » 07 Oct 2009, 23:57

omg i read this and never commented! i'm lsing my +1 powers!!!

great review btw, but the lack of funtime things mean i'm out!
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Advocate » 08 Oct 2009, 10:20

EviL Ras wrote:omg i read this and never commented! i'm lsing my +1 powers!!!

great review btw, but the lack of funtime things mean i'm out!



got to agree - great review but the thing is too underpowered for my liking, also when I used one in the sony shop I couldnt get on with the tiny screen. much prefer the 13" machine with reasonable power and a nice desktop for home
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Tappy » 08 Oct 2009, 13:03

EviL Ras wrote:omg i read this and never commented! i'm lsing my +1 powers!!!


I just assumed no one cared :(

Have to agree with Advocate n Ras. It's certainly not a replacement for a larger laptop (yet). More like your mobile companion. Or in my case, the sofa / bed companion. But that's what I was after, so score! And I do occasionally play World of Goo on it, just for kicks. I do wonder, however, how much difference the 256GB SSD and 2.0GHz processor makes. For the $2000 price tag, I hope quite a lot!
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Johnmcl7 » 08 Oct 2009, 16:53

My main problem with the review is that when I look at the pictures I really want to buy one...

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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby UKIan » 08 Oct 2009, 22:32

I like the look of them too, but there's a new one now: Engadget
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby EviL Ras » 09 Oct 2009, 00:46

If only they could fit atom in there to help the aero!
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Johnmcl7 » 09 Oct 2009, 00:53

They do have an Atom processor, do you mean Ion?

Prices seem a bit high, the only one available near me is a whopping 1,600 pounds...

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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby EviL Ras » 09 Oct 2009, 00:55

Sorr, yes, ion. tho its too big to fit in a p! They look teh sexxx! Just $2000 for something i wouldnt use much is daft monies!!! Will see what HK offers me.
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Tappy » 09 Oct 2009, 21:17

Seems relevant for here: got a letter from Sony today saying that they've processed my cash back cheque for the Vaio P and will be sending it soon. Maybe they ran out of money...
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby EviL Ras » 09 Oct 2009, 22:53

I just noticed you have FOUR machines! So is the cashback going on a fifth?!
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Tappy » 10 Oct 2009, 11:10

Well, as much as I'd like to, I don't think I could justify a fifth :( I don't play games as much as I used to, so the x620 can satisfy my graphical and portability needs. The CTX Pro is practically retired and has been promised to my parents. I would have liked to get a newer version of the M1330, but the Mrs tends to use that one and wouldn't let me replace it. So, I guess until the XPS dies or can't play whatever game she's playing, or a giant leap in technology comes on a 15.4"er, I'm stuck with these. Always wanted an Alienware, just for the name, so maybe that will be next in a few years.

That being said - a media pc for the bedroom might be good...
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby EviL Ras » 10 Oct 2009, 11:33

LUHG
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Re: Sony Vaio P11Z Review

Postby Tappy » 16 Oct 2009, 18:06

Got my cash back... wooo! The offer runs until the end of next month, probably a day before the new models are released :D
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