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Sony VAIO X Series Hands-on

Andy Vandervell


Sony VAIO X Series Hands-on

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.

At its thinnest point, the X-Series isn't as tall as a 20 pence coin.

Even at its thickest it's no taller than the same coin

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.


October 9, 2009, 8:29 pm

£1500 for a glorified netbook... OK, there's much more to it than the average netbook, but I'd pay £700 or £900 at most, which is already twice the price of a good netbook. £1500 is ridiculous; it actually makes the Macbook Air look like reasonable value.


October 9, 2009, 8:37 pm

take note apple: the Fn key in the correct position, here.


October 9, 2009, 9:04 pm

As I was saying yesterday, I'm still very keen on this! The Atom CPU is a bit of shame and the price is horrendous, but it still hasn't put me off. Andy, when do you think you'll be able to review this?

In the UK we are getting only 2 models to start with, VPCX11Z1E/X (2GHz, 256GB SSD, Carbon Black) & VPCX11S1E/B (1.86GHz, 128GB SSD, Black). So the VPCX11Z1E/X is the one to go for (£1700!).


October 9, 2009, 9:30 pm

I don't understand why some companies produce models with square trackpads for widescreen displays; to me it seems natural to have a trackpad that is in the same proportion as the screen.

Also, why do laptop manufacturers still insist on placing a VGA port on a laptop? Surely that is a little old by now and they should be using DVI or something a little more modern, perhaps even HDMI.

Personally, if I had a choice, I think I'd rather have the Vaio P over this, since it brings back fond memories of the Sony PictureBook, which I always craved to own when I was younger, but never had the cash for one.

Still, I do admire Sony for occasionally bringing out these insane super-thin laptops, ever since they launched the X505.


October 9, 2009, 11:36 pm

overpriced, underpowered, stupid touch-pad. Personally if I was in the market I would get a TT - so much more functionality without much less portability, for a similar price (give or take a few hundred - depending on model). A few compelling reasons not to buy this. One to buy - its crazy thin - actually has a worrying but not surprising amount a flex on the prototypes at-least due to this.

Marco Vloothuis

October 10, 2009, 5:14 am

If you value reliability, good service and your business, I would NOT even touch Sony with a barge pole, hope this saves others from serious down-time when using VAIOs for business. I am absolutely convinced Sony VAIO is designed to fail and a complete rip-off. They should be avoided for their lousy and incompetent customer service, especially in Europe.

Once it BSODs you have an expensive brick, go with a manufacturer that *tries* to backup their products, it&#8217s a scandal the way Sony handled the GPU problem.

Victor 2

October 10, 2009, 2:17 pm

You can get a top model of this in Japan for just $1200 tax included, $1500 in USA.

I totally don't understand why UK customers always have to pay much much more, are we the richest or dummiest?


October 10, 2009, 5:29 pm

Is this a fan? In the "inside x" layout picture, at the end of the aluminum piece, is this a fan? I thought that this beauty was without a fan...


October 12, 2009, 2:36 pm

Andy, what gestures are able to be performed on the touchpad? How does it compares to the gestures available on the Macs? Thanks.

Bernie Marais

June 3, 2010, 5:37 am

I agree with the comment made by Marco Vloothuis he is right. The Sony VAIO I owned crashed and Sony's Europe customer service did not come to the rescue, in fact they did not want to know about it. I can guarantee that you are left with an expensive paper weight.

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