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Sony Vaio Y Netbook Review

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The Sony Vaio Y netbook is Sony’s first try at AMD’s new Fusion processor.  Sony opted for the fastest of the lot with the E 350 Fusion processor, a dual-core processor that runs at 1.6GHz and integrates a Radeon HD 6310 graphics unit.  Priced at Php29,990, the Vaio Y is a little pricey for a netbook but is the price tag justified?

Sony VAIO Y Specifications (VPCYB15AG/S/P/G)

  • AMD Dual-Core E-350 processor (1.6GHz)
  • 11.6-inch WXGA with LED backlight (1366 x 768)
  • Genuine Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
  • 2GB RAM
  • AMD Radeon HD 6310 integrated graphics
  • 320GB hard disk
  • Wireless LAN 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • 6-cell 3500mAh Li-Ion battery
  • 1.46 kg

Design

If there’s one thing I really like about the Sony Vaio Y, it’s the design.  Sony has built a reputation for releasing well-designed laptops and fortunately, the Y series is just as good-looking as its more-expensive siblings. Viewed from any angle, the Sony Vaio Y looks like a premium notebook.  The round central hinge and the green power button on the side are trademarks of a Vaio notebook, and so is the chiclet keyboard.

The Vaio Y’s screen is an 11.6-inch glossy display with 1366 x 768 resolution. This is quite sufficient for photo and video viewing and also just right resolution for browsing.

The Vaio Y is light at 1.46kg which makes it easy to carry around.  It also sports a slim profile, although not as slim as the razor-thin Macbook Air. It has a matte lid, which is good since it is not a fingerprint magnet.

The chiclet keyboard is very nice and honestly one of the things I like about Vaio notebooks.  Just like in other Vaio models, the keyboard on the Vaio Y is almost perfect: layout is good, keys are well-spaced and tactile feedback is just right.  The palm rest on the Vaio Y looks nice and has a textured finish.  The touchpad is just the right size and felt very responsive.  The buttons are equally responsive and are soft when pressed.

The Vaio Y includes standard ports like USB ports, earphone and mic jacks, HDMI and VGA ports and an SD card and Sony MemoryStick.

Performance

For a netbook, the Sony Vaio Y is fast. This has something to do with the  1.6GHz dual-core AMD Fusion E-350 processor with an AMD Radeon HD6310 integrated graphics.  This processor definitely feels faster than its dual-core Intel Atom counterparts.  Sony even claims that this processor is comparable to an Intel Pentium processor and it is hard to dispute this.  I tried running 1080p HD videos and the Vaio Y happily obliged, playing the videos without the usual stutter.  HD Youtube videos also ran smoothly on the Vaio Y.

However, don’t expect too much from the Vaio Y in terms of processing power.  Although it is without a doubt one of the fastest netbooks around, it is not sufficiently fast for most applications.  You’ll find that loading applications on the Vaio Y is slower than your Core i3 experience.  Loading multiple applications is acceptable courtesy of its 2GB RAM but its performance still makes you realize that the Vaio Y is a netbook.  Word processing and light photo editing is manageable but don’t expect the Vaio Y to run graphics intensive applications smoothly.

If you’re interested to know the Windows Experience Index of the Vaio Y, it’s 3.7.  The Windows Experience Index measures the capability of a computer’s hardware and software configuration.

Battery Life

Battery life is not one of Vaio Y’s strong suits.  Although the AMD E-350 is a low-power chip, regular use will bring you a little over 3 hours of computing time, far from the 4-hour computing time promised by Sony.  Regular use includes surfing the internet, typing and running a few applications.  I guess this is quite expected since the Vaio Y uses a low-capacity 3500mAh battery.

Verdict

It used to be that Sony Vaio products are only for those with extra cash to burn.  The Vaio had a reputation for being expensive, and sometimes too expensive for the specs and features offered.  This seems to have changed recently.  With the Sony Vaio Y, it appears that Sony has made its products more affordable, although admittedly still among the most expensive.

The Sony Vaio Y is priced at Php29,990.  It is more expensive that netbooks with similar specs but is something that is justified when you consider the Vaio Y’s design features and its build quality.  The Vaio Y is also fast for a notebook, thanks to the AMD Fusion processor.

I would have loved the Vaio Y on black but there are only three colors being offered: green, pink and silver.

Rating: 7.8/10

Vivo X21

4 Comments

  1. I heard rumors about how the Vaio Y distrupts the network (i.e., kicks everyone else off the net) when it connects to a Linksys router. Is there any truth to this?

  2. Our company bought 4 of the Sony Vaio Y netbooks for us brand managers last May.  Last night, while I was downloading a free installer, a message appeared on my screen informing me that my system is in critical status.  Since the warranty card and the OR of our units were in the custody of our MIS Dept., I went to the Sony shop where we bought the netbooks in SM Northwing in Cebu City this morning. 
    I told  the girl in-charge there of the problem, and she gave me a photocopy of the receipt and the warranty cards.  She told me to bring the netbook to Sony Service Center along Osmena Blvd. which is almost 5 kms from the shop.
    When I brought the netbook to the Sony Service Center and showed them the photocopies, the staff told me that I need to get a certification from the store where we bought the units because the serial number of the netbook is not consistent with what was written on the warranty card.  Thinking that the repair of my laptop will start once I secure the certification, I drove back to the Sony shop and requested for the certification. 
    In minutes time, the sales staff furnished me the certification and explained to me that they use the serial number written on the box of the units for the serial number in the warranty card. 
    I drove again to the service center to give the certification so they could already start repairing my netbook, but the staff told me that they still have to send it to Manila for approval.  The staff told me that they will just inform me next week about the status of my netbook. 
    Since my netbook contains all my work files and I have made this clear to the service staff at the start of the transaction, I, as expected, was totally pissed that it will take time for them to process everything.  In frustration, I pulled out my laptop from the service center and decided to have our MIS department process the whole repair instead.
    Clearly, the customer service of Sony Service Center leaves much to be desired.  I had a personal HP laptop before which I bought from a friend in the US.  I didn’t have the receipt nor the warranty card when i brought it to HP Service Center here in Cebu for repair. Unlike with Sony, all the HP staff had to do was check the serial # in their system to verify if the unit was still under warranty.  This only took them a few minutes.  Since their system indicated that it was still covered by warranty, they repaired it without any delay.
    Should I have known ahead that this is how dismal the after sales service of Sony is, I wouldn’t have recommended buying a Sony netbook as replacement to our old notebooks, but my fascination to the aesthetics of the netbook series got the better part of me which is a big mistake. 

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