GCN LAB REVIEW: NETBOOKS

Sony Vaio netbook a multimedia power

The Sony Vaio W-series would do well for a user who deals with multimedia on a variety of devices with different types of storage

Netbooks in this review

Netbooks prove worthy of a second look
The Lab tests six netbook models and finds they have outgrown their low-grade reputation.

Dell Latitude on the go
The Dell Latitude 2100 offers extra portability options at a smart price for students.

Fujitsu designed to shine
Fujitsu M2010's bright screen and impressively loud speakers make it a good choice for multimedia use.

HP Mini but mighty
HP Mini 5101's enhanced communications features make it ideal for wireless or LAN networking.

IdeaPad ideal for budget conscious
Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2's low cost and light weight make it a good value for those watching their wallets.

Sony Vaio netbook a multimedia power
The Sony Vaio W-series is a bit pricey at $500, but it has a lot of extra features and would do well for a user who deals with multimedia on a variety of devices with different types of storage.

Toshiba's Mini is the class of the netbook field
The Toshiba Mini NB205 N210 delivered the best performance at the lowest price, and easily won the Reviewer’s Choice for this roundup.

The Sony Vaio W-Series is a sturdy netbook that has many additional features. Its dimensions of 10.75 inches by 7.5 inches by 2 inches make it larger than most others that we reviewed, and its weight of 2 pounds, 14 ounces ties it for second heaviest.

Although the keys on the Vaio’s keyboard are smaller than most of the netbooks we reviewed, they are spaced out nicely, so typing feels about the same. The PgUp and PgDn functions have been relegated to Fn keys, so anyone who frequently uses those keys will need to get used to it. However, Sony added another Fn key on the right side of the keyboard, which should alleviate the burden somewhat. The touchpad is large enough to use comfortably.

One annoying thing was the difficulty in getting the battery locked in and connected. All of the other netbook batteries just snapped right in, but we had to hold the Vaio’s battery in place and manually lock it. That could add to an IT department’s setup time if administrators need to install several at once.

We were pleased to see that the Vaio’s wireless adapter supports 802.11n technology in addition to 802.11g. The integrated Bluetooth technology was another plus. Also, in addition to the Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard reader, Sony included its own Memory Stick Duo port with Magic Gate copy protection, giving the user even more multimedia flexibility. Unfortunately, all of those extras came at a price — the Vaio is the only netbook in the review with only two USB ports.

In our benchmark tests, the Vaio and its Intel Atom N280 processor scored 253.0, which put it the top half. The Vaio also lasted 4 hours, 30 minutes in our battery life test, second best in the roundup.

The Sony Vaio W-series sells for $500, which is a little high in our opinion, despite all of its extra features. It would do well for a user who deals with multimedia on a variety of devices with different types of storage.

Pros: Good battery life, large touchpad.
Cons: Battery difficult to connect.
Performance: A-
Battery life: B+
Ergonomics: B-
Portability: B+
Features: A-
Value: B
Price: $500

Sony Electronics, 877-865-7669, www.sonystyle.com

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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