We got a peek at Sony's plans at IFA in September, where it showed the ultra-slim, ultra-light X Series laptop. It refused to be drawn on details, but yesterday it officially announced the X Series, as a well as a new mid-range style effort, the CW, and an interesting touch-screen all-in-one PC, the L Series. We're going to focus on the X-Series for now, though, which continues Sony's penchant for producing impossibly thin and light laptops.
How impossibly thin and light? A few stats are needed. Depending on the configuration the X Series can weigh as little as 655 grams. That's without WWAN (3G) module and with a 64GB SSD, but even with a 128GB SSD and WWAN included it still weighs just 780 grams! This is married to a thickness of just 13.9mm.
Of course, as has been well documented, this thinness doesn't come without compromise. Powering the X Series will be either a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 or a 2.0GHz Z550, both of which are somewhat unknown quantities. Unknown or not, though, it seems unlikely performance will be anything special. On the other hand, with Windows 7, a reasonable 2GB RAM and fast SSDs all included we found basic operation to be responsive enough. Only more extensive testing will give us an a definitive answer though.
Sony had an interesting demonstration stand showing how the system is laid out. Most intruiging is how the lithium-polymer batteries are integrated either side of the touchpad. Quoted battery life is "approximately" eight hours, a figure that doubles should you use the optional extended battery.
Whenever the focus is on size and portability the keyboard and touchpad tend to become compromised. This is no less true of the X Series, though both are pretty well handled. We had no problems with the keyboard layout and although the keys, which are probably around 80 per cent full-size, are a little small they're still very usable. Of more issue is the depth of travel, which is pretty much non-existent. Indeed, Sony has gone for a shallow, sharp action that's similar to its W Series netbook. We found it to be okay, though others might not be so generous.
As for the touchpad, it's a small square affair, dictated it seems by the batteries housed within. We'd like a little more time with it before making a judgement, though it does have the benefit of multi-touch support.