When it comes to netbooks, Sony has exhibited the kind of reticence that allowed Apple to muscle in on the portable media player market it so long dominated. After the super-expensive and largely pointless P-Series 'lifestyle' something or other, it finally announced its first genuine netbook last week, the W-Series. Earlier in the week I had a little time to take a closer look, so here are my first impressions of Sony's first netbook.
I'll deal with the normal pleasantries now. While this is indeed the first Sony netbook, it is restricted by most of the same rules as everyone else. This means you'll get an Intel Atom N280 processor, 1GB RAM and a 160GB hard drive. There's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth too, while there's a webcam for video chatting and the like.
This just leaves the major headline: the display. It looks as though the W-Series will be the first netbook to take advantage of Intel's newly relaxed rules regarding netbooks by utilising a 1,366 x 768 resolution, 10in display. Naturally it's LED backlit, just like every other netbook, but the resolution is a massive improvement for a 10in netbook and we fully expect Asus, Acer, Samsung and the rest of the gang to follow suit just as soon as they are able.
As for the display itself, on first inspection it's a bit of a stunner. Being a relatively high resolution for such a small display means it has a very high dot pitch, so is razor sharp. This might prove challenging for shorter sighted folks, but if every netbook starts shipping with a screen of this resolution I (for one) won't be complaining. On a more negative note, though, the W-Series follows the trend toward reflective glossy displays. Netbooks with anti-glare displays are few and far between these days!
Connectivity is the usual fare, with three USB ports, a VGA output, audio jacks, an Ethernet port and an SD card reader on-hand. One change is the inclusion of an obligatory Memory Stick reader, a regular feature of every Sony notebook, though one few are likely to use. Were a prize for bloody-minded persistence on offer, Sony and its proprietary memory could run Toshiba (it of Blu-ray denying fame) pretty close!