Sony's svelte P series Netbook

Summary:The mystery of the Sony VAIO P series has been resolved. Sony is calls it a Lifestyle PC, but it is really one of the smallest and lightest Netbooks to date.

Sony VAIO P series
The mystery of the Sony VAIO P series has been resolved. Sony is calls it a Lifestyle PC, but it is really one of the smallest and lightest Netbooks to date.

The P series weighs 1.4 pounds with the standard battery. It is about the size of a business envelope measuring 11 inches wide by 7.9 inches deep and only 0.9 inches thick. Aside from its size and weight, what makes the P series unusual is ultra-wide screen, an 8-inch LED-backlit display with a high resolution of 1600 x 768 pixels.

The starting specs of the P series--Intel Atom processor, 2GB of memory, 60GB hard drive--sure look like those of a Netbook. But Sony argues it has the features of a full-fledged ultraportable. It's true that it has some nice features including a relatively large keyboard, integrated wireless WAN (Verizon) and GPS. It also comes with Windows Vista, not Windows XP like many netbooks.

But like other subnotes, the P series also has some real limitations. Even on the highest quality display, the text and graphics are much smaller on a screen of this size and resolution. If you want to connect it to an external display or wired Ethernet, you need a $60 adapter. Like most netbooks and the smallest ultraportables, it doesn't have an internal DVD drive, though you can purchase an external USB drive. And the performance of Atom-based systems falls well short of Core 2-based ultraportables.

Interestingly the P series uses a 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z520, rather than the faster 1.6Hz Intel Atom N270 found in most netbooks. The Z series was really designed for MIDs, but the P series is so small that the chip's low power requirements (only 2 watts TDP) make it a better fit. Sony says it will get up to four hours of battery life.

The P series starts at $900 with the Z520, 2GB of memory and a 60GB hard drive. There will always be some willing to pay a premium for the thinnest and lightest laptop, but given its limitations the P series is likely to be a niche product. The P series will be available on Sony's site later this month and in stores in early February.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Servers

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.