Few months back, we did the unboxing of the VAIO P. However, since then, we did not ever published its full review. We have criticized VAIO P heavily (see THIS), but we need to understand one fact that is VAIO P is a crop of its own.
Anyway, been using VAIO P from past few months, I am now fully aware of its pros and cons. Now, how is the immediate out of box experience. To be honest, you immediately feel its slowness as soon as you take it out of the box. It took it 30 minutes to take me to the desktop! Then, even after the desktop was loaded, it was very slow.
This forced me to do a clean install as there was too much of crap installed. I was shocked to see all the battery-hogging services as-well-as those services activated which hurt the performance in a big deal. Now, what made the SONY sell this unique product in the market with no optimizations is a big question mark. To hurt the performance even more, they bundled the McAfee Virus app that made my VAIO P to crawl even more.
Instead of uninstalling millions of junkware (yes, I like to call it junkware), I decided to install a fresh copy of Vista Ultimate SP2 on it. I have provided the list of drivers here that one needs to install on the VAIO P to get everything working. First thing I disabled was indexing. VAIO P just does not have enough horsepower that I should allow it to do indexing in the background. Secondly, you should disable the sidebar. Sidebar is resource hungry and slows everything down. The sidebar is also responsible for NOT allowing you to use the device just after you have logged in as the sidebar has taken most of the CPU cycles in loading all the fancy graphics. Long story short, just disable it from loading in the beginning and do not use it. Learn to live without it.
Also, do not even think of using an Aero based theme as VAIO P has to handle so many more pixels than an average laptop and that too with a not-so-powerful processor. The alt+tab animation is so choppy that I should not even dare to talk about it. On the other hand, my Aspire D250 and EEE 1000H handle Aero perfectly, but then they have far less pixels to handle too.
On the paper, the 1600×768 display sounds pretty god-like. But, on a 8-inch display? To be frank, it is too much for a human eye to handle. SONY has always loved these high-res displays, but SONY should not have cramped these many pixels in an 8-inch model. True, you can see a lot at any moment, but the text is very very tiny!
Even if you have perfect vision, your eyes will surely start to hurt after spending 15 mins or so. Some might say that increasing the DPI is the solution to it, but then it is not the perfect solution.
Now, How is the keyboard?
The keyboard on this little thing is phenomenal. Although I really dislike the small right shift key and still feel that SONY could have fit in a bigger right shift key.
From the past few months, I have made myself adapted to the right shift key, but that has forced me to change my typing habits a bit. I now use right shift much less in all keyboards I use. Now, it depends on you, if you start hating your VAIO for this or not.
The VAIO P comes with a trackpoint. SONY wanted to save some space and they opted for trackpoint instead of much more common trackpad. It takes some time getting used to, but I found trackpad more comfortable and accurate to use, especially in apps where you require good precision, like Photoshop, Flash etc.
For basic tasks like clicking and selecting objects here and there, it works fine, but then again, takes some time for getting used to.
Left and right click buttons are placed below the spacebar and do not require much effort to register a press.
There are two USB 2.0 ports, each located on the either sides of the devices. There is a proprietary SONY port which allows to to plug an accessory (not included) to let you use LAN and VGA ports. There is a headphone jack on the left side of the device, but microphone jack is absent.
There are two memory slots: one is for memory stick media and another is for SD media. HDD and Battery indicator lights are there on the front of the device.
This thing is compact and an attention grabber
All (expensive) VAIOs are attention grabbers. SONY always like to put in a style statement in their VAIOs so that their owners can easily distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd. Same is the case here.
This thing is made to turn heads in a big way. It is so sleek and compact that you will love showing it off to the clients and friends.
The VAIO’s standard battery is a 2-cell battery which sits completely flushed with the unit. It is able to give me 1.5 to 2 hours under balanced mode in Vista. Note that I have disabled CPU-hogging services like indexing and I am not using an anti-virus at all which further clogs up CPU’s resources. I am sure you will able to squeeze out even more juice if you use power saving mode. However, I found my VAIO P to be really sluggish in that mode.
Also, I would like to point out that SONY does sell an extended battery 4-cell battery. It does not sits flush and bulges out a bit. But, you can double your battery runtime with it. I do not need it as I like to keep my VAIO P as light as possible.
Long story short, how is the overall performance?
The VAIO P is way a power horsepower to handle anything that is processor intensive. Reason being the fact that it comes equipped with a Z-series processor which is no way a speed-demon. It was first adopted by Z520-equipped Acer Aspire 751H (REVIEW).
This notebook, dare shall I say netbook, is great to type notes upon. Infact, the whole device is built around the keyboard. It has almost laptop size chiclet keys. You can actually type for hours and hours on this little computer as if you are typing on a full fledge laptop.
How does the hard disk perform?
In real world tests, I found the hard disk to be really slow. If you can go with the SSD, it would be nice as I have heard that is much faster than the hard disk drive. That said, SSD version retails for nearly $200-$300 more than the cheapest HDD version.
Comparison with the normal netbooks
The VAIO P is small and by small, we really mean small. This thing is about 1/6th size of a 15-inch laptop and about 1/3rd of a normal netbook, both in terms of size and weight. My Aspire D250 looks absolutely ginormous!
Compared to my EEE 701, which was one of the first netbooks in the market, it is actually wider than former, but shorter in height. And due to its small height, I can actually carry it around in my hands (it does not fit in my jeans’ pocket) pretty easily.
Get it if you can afford it. While some may call it as over-priced netbook, they are not wrong. You pay for the quality and price here, not for any sort of ground-breaking performance.
PS: whole review was written on the wonderful keyboard of the VAIO P
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