Sony enters the netbook battle

2009 is the year of the netbook. The new frontier and battle ground for all PC makers. It is estimated that 11.4 million netbooks were sold in 2008 and 21.5 million are expected to be sold in 2009. The latest contender to enter the netbook market is Sony. Sony launched their VAIO P series Pocket Style PC last Thursday at The National Museum and I’m honored to be invited to the media event.
There are some debate on whether the VAIO P should be considered a netbook. I guess it’s a grey area.
The VAIO P comes in a very interesting form factor. It has a 8 inch screen (Packed with 1600 x 768), weighs 620g (594g for the SSD model) and is 245 x 19.8 x 120mm (W x H x D). This makes the netbook fit nicely into the back pocket of your jean. I think it’s super stylo to carry a netbook on your back pocket. The VAIO P comes with 2 specs, a 60GB Harddisk version that comes with a an Intel Atom 1.33 GHz processor and a 64GB SSD version that comes with a 1.6 GHz processor.
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The keyboard is surprising comfortable to type with. In fact the keyboard is almost the same size as the normal keyboard. There is no touchpad on the VAIO P. Instead, the VAIO P comes with a trackpoint. I have no problem with that since I’m a great fan of trackpoint. But those who aren’t used to a trackpoint might want to take note.
The design of the VAIO P looks great. It comes with 4 beautiful colours. Red, Green, Black and White. Or rather, Garnet Red, Olivine Green, Obsidian Black and Crystal White as mentioned in press release. And the shade of the colour changes with the lighting conditions. Nice.
The downside of the VAIO P is that it is running Windows Vista. Oh no. Didn’t HP made that mistake in the past with their HP Mini 2133? Vista just isn’t meant for a netbook. And the 1.33GHz (1.60GHz for SSD version) Intel Atom processor isn’t helping much. But one good thing that Sony did was to include a quick launch button. It takes less than 30 seconds to power up to the instant on mode. The instant on mode interface looks kinda like the PSP user interface. From the instant on mode, you can access your pictures, music and video files. You can also surf the net using firefox and access IM with Pidgin. Overall, the instant on mode is pretty good and I feel that all netbook should include this mode.
Strangely, the version that is coming to Singapore didn’t have build in 3G and GPS. I understand that the folks in the States are getting these 2 features on their VAIO P (at a higher price tag). But personally, I would prefer that Sony includes these 2 modules in the Singapore model.
The Sony VAIO P is expected to be launched in Singapore sometime mid Feb 2009. The 1.33 GHz model (with 60GB Harddisk) is expected to sell at around $1299. No news about the 1.60 GHz model with 64GB SSD.
Hope I can get my hands on the unit soon and do a detailed review.
Thanks to Audrey and Deborah from Hill & Knowlton and Sony for the invite.


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