Sony has always prided itself on producing market leading, premium ultra-portable laptops. One such example was the Sony VAIO VGN-Z11WN/B, whose portable 13.1in chassis and outstanding performance won it many admirers when it was first released in 2008. In the VAIO Y Series Sony has produced another 13in laptop, but this time it's a bit more affordable.
Our review model, the Y11M1E/S, is the only model currently on sale and it'll set you back in the region of £650. Considering Sony is rarely averse to demanding a premium for its laptops, its specification is nothing to sniff at. At its heart is a low-voltage Intel Pentium SU4100, which has two cores running at 1.3GHz. It's backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard drive, with Wireless-N Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also included. That's a decent base-line, especially for a system claiming nine hours of battery life, but the need to keep the weight and price down means there's no integrated optical drive.
Sony hasn't cut corners with the design of the Y Series, though. Its neatly tapered lid and silver, non-gloss finish give it an air of class and simplicity missing from so many competing laptops, while also avoiding unsightly smears and fingerprints. Sony's signature VAIO logo and hinge mounted power button, which glows green when the machine is on and orange when in standby, merely add to its elegance.
This silver finish is continued on the inside and is nicely complemented by the black, isolation-style keyboard. At first we wondered whether the silver plastic finish might scratch easily, but a little experimentation revealed this not to be the case - it would take serious negligence to do lasting damage.
Connectivity on the Y Series is pretty standard, with three USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire connection, headphone and microphone jacks (the former of which doubles as a digital audio output), VGA for analogue video, and HDMI for digital video and audio. At the front are memory card readers for SD and Sony's Memory Stick cards, as well as the welcome addition of a hardware wireless switch. Also included, on the right, is a Gigabit Ethernet port and a 34mm ExpressCard slot.