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Sony Vaio W Series VPC-W12S1E/T

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      23.05.2010 11:31
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      A very capable, yet stylish product. Typical Sony!

      Note: I reviewed this product in February 2010. At that time, I couldn't find the brown version listed, so I posted my review against the listing for the pink version. Once I spotted that the brown one did exist, I copied the text of my review here! I actually bought the brown version you see here, but the pink version is technically identical...



      I just bought one of these at the Sony Centre in Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. I was considering an Asus EeePC, but this Sony is altogether more stylish, and better still it has a crisp and bright 1366x768 display. Most netbooks have a 1024x600 display, which gives them less screen real-estate than a regular laptop. This makes it harder to view web pages quite as easily. This Sony's display has the same resolution as many full-size laptops, so you would not find it too difficult to use as your only laptop if you are always on the move. The keyboard is the same type you've seen on all those sexy Macbooks, albeit a bit compressed so as to keep the machine small. It would no doubt frustrate the avid touch typist, but as I am a three-finger typist, it took little getting used to.

      Unlike the Asus Eee PC, the currently in vogue (and very useful) multi-touch trackpad is not present here. Nevertheless, it works smoothly and quickly enough.

      The battery bulges out under the back of the machine, and acts as a stand. That gives the machinbe a very pleasant angle for typing on a flat surface, but it's not so nice for resting on your lap. It does however give you an easily reachable 8-hour battery life, something that is not to be sniffed at.

      Windows 7 Starter Edition is installed, which is a nice enough operating system if you are willing to live within the constaints this edition forces upon you. If not, you can use Windows Anytime Upgrade to get a better version of Windows 7, but you of course have to pay handsomely for the priviledge.If you intend to do so, you might find it more cost effective to get a proper compact laptop pre-installed with a better version of Windows off the bat.

      Like all netbooks, there's no optical drive, but you do get two USB 2.0 ports, as well as a memory stick slot and an SD card slot. Wi-Fi 802.11G is provided, which lets you connect to the net pretty snappily, although the newer and presumably more power-guzzling/expensive 802.11N is notably absent. **Update 17 Feb 2010: The NEW 802.11N IS supported after all, but it took a driver update to enable it. Maximum connection speed is 150Mbps, which is much better than the 54Mbps 802.11G that I thought you get. The Sony salesman told me it wasn't 802.11N-capable, and since I only got a 54Mbps connection initially, I took his word for it.** You do get bluetooth 2.1 EDR included, so if you have a compatible phone and a data contract, you can easily connect to the net almost anywhere. You could also connect a wireless headset or GPS unit. There's a decent-enough webcam built into the display bezel, as well as a sensitive microphone and some very underpowered speakers. Okay for Skype, barely adequate for watching Youtube videos, but useless for listenng to music. Plug in some nice earphones or external speakers, and you're away!

      Performance-wise, it's adequate for typical email, IM, and email applications, and there's just about enough grunt for movie-watching too. BBC iPlayer works fine when streaming from the site, but downloaded programmes seem to be a bit too data intensive, and the video stutters somewhat. Performance is hampered by the amount of junkware/bloatware installed by default. McAfee helps to make the machine run very slowly indeed, especially when scanning or updating itself. There are also some unnecessary webcam apps installed, which you may well decide to uninstall. I haven't decided yet, but as I'm not a big webcam user, I may end up doing that. **Update 17 Feb 2010: I DID end up removing almost ALL of the bloatware, including McAfee Internet Security, and now the machine feels much snappier.**

      Overall, it's a great piece of kit, only let down by the lack of a multi-touch trackpad, but in my mind, the high resolution screen more than makes up for it. In chocolate brown, it's stylish too, and looks almost good enough to eat!

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