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Sony VAIO P Series (VPC-P11S1E) review

Andy Vandervell



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If you remain confused by the Apple iPad, spare a thought for the Sony VAIO P Series. It was first unveiled at CES 2009, but its promising beginnings belied a device that was slow, cumbersome to use and lacking in the battery life department. It was, to use an oft heard complaint of late, a product without a point. Despite its obvious issues, however, Sony has come back to have another go at this 8-inch, mini-netbook device.

We'll deal with the obvious first: it's very green. Luckily this lime green version (VPC-P11S1E/G), not to mention other colourful options like orange and pink, are joined by less retina searing white and black versions. Moreover, colour aside, the P Series is quite a funky looking device. Its combination of matt plastic, smooth lines and a compact, slim chassis that weighs 600 grams - 80 less than the iPad - is a strong reminder of why the device drew such admiring glances in the first place. It looks cool.

Sony has also made some less cosmetic additions in the shape of a small, optical touchpad and accompanying buttons either side of the screen. These are intended to make the device more usable when held in two hands, but are only effective to a limited to degree; should you need to input text you'll still need to put the device down, or awkwardly hold it in one hand and type with the other. Scrolling in this position is also tricky, as you have to hold down the two buttons to activate middle-click scrolling using the pad. It's a far cry from the fast, streamlined experience of the iPad, but then the P Series is a more a proper mobile computer than an up-scaled mobile device.

This much you can glean from the presence of a keyboard and also from quaint things like the trackpoint and mouse buttons, which you'll need to navigate the installed version of Windows 7 Home Premium. They're joined by the same 8-inch, 1,600 x 768 pixel display as the original P Series, and it remains a frankly insane resolution for such as small device. So wide is this aspect that videos have vertical black bars either side of them, while text is extremely small and difficult to read.

In what can only be a tacit admission of this weakness Sony has added a 'resolution change' button, which switches the resolution to 1,280 x 800 pixels, effectively zooming in. This makes the screen more readable, but as it's a non-native resolution - it's not even the correct aspect for the screen - it doesn't look too clever and smacks of a half-hearted fix to a fundamental problem.

As for the screen itself, in true Sony tradition it is very good. A slightly mottled look and ordinary viewing angles do let it down a little, but colour production and detail levels far exceed those found on any netbook and many laptops. It's not a patch on the excellent iPad screen, though, which could easily be construed as an alternative device to this.

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May 19, 2010, 5:34 pm

For that money I'd get a Macbook Pro and install windows on it.


May 19, 2010, 5:42 pm


Sorry, don't have a comment on the article yet; just looked at the scores.

Digital Fury

May 19, 2010, 6:34 pm

WTF? Sony is now issuing Shrek themed laptops. Those P Series were already a hard sell, but who now will buy these things?


May 19, 2010, 7:14 pm

@Digital Fury: wemen.


May 19, 2010, 7:58 pm

@Digital Fury - And colour-blind people (speaking as someone who's colour-blind). And people who like their over-priced netbooks, a vomit shade of green (a small market I must admit).


May 19, 2010, 10:06 pm

Like it. Want one.

But the price is way too high .....


May 19, 2010, 10:50 pm

Am pretty sure the market for net books were for those on a budget and just wanting to access the internet. So what an earth is going on here. To be honest this is one area Sony should have left to Asus. At hat price I could buy a hard core Laptop with more capabilities, however I do acknowledge that the Sony Net book is different to a laptop - but you understand.

Ian Wright

May 19, 2010, 11:58 pm

Aside from it being hideous and slow... I have had it confirmed today from someone in Sony support and the head of customer services that all P series Vaio have a flaw in the screen which allows dust to find its way behind the screen. I was shocked they actually admitted it to be honest. Yet another reason to steer clear of this.


May 20, 2010, 12:36 am

Article is a little harsh to be honest! The P series is the only truly portable netbook (i mean really portable) without having to resort to a tablet or UMPC. Yes its expensive but it is also unique. What are the alternatives and if they are any if you spec them up to this level guarantee the cost will be the same...


May 20, 2010, 2:11 am

I like that green... yum mushy peas... wait that is a bad thing...


May 20, 2010, 3:45 am

No optical drive then? (And the other shortcomings aside - sod you all cos I love the orange!)


May 21, 2010, 8:53 pm

@darkspark88 Are you serious? Comparing a full featured netbook with a performance notebook? Totally different products.

@goldenguy How would you fit an optical drive in it? At this level all it needs is the card reader.

My opinion: a little cheaper it might be perfect, but depending on how solid and durable it is it might just be the perfect netbook. Not knowing the other colours this green looks like something you would buy for a child, though...

So stick a black one inside a leather pouch and it will look sweet in the next board of directors meeting.


May 21, 2010, 9:23 pm

Ooops... didn't see how pathetic the autonomy is...

Rachel Ingram

May 22, 2010, 3:21 am

@darkspark88 Can you install Windows on a Mac?

P.S. Im about new to this :)


May 24, 2010, 7:03 pm


"Ooops... didn't see how pathetic the autonomy is..." I assume you mean 'anatomy', or are you one of those laptopists who are against laptop independence? :)

@Rachel Ingram:

Yes, you can, especially now that the underlying hardware is virtually identical to that of a PC. There's loads of info about the various ways of running Windows on Apple systems out on the net, a quick Google search should provide in-depth reading on this topic.

Art p.

February 19, 2014, 10:05 pm

Wer can I get one in green?

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