Style and Design
What impressed us most about the Sony Vaio W was its style and design. It isn't the thinnest netbook around, nor the lightest, but boy is it good looking. Sony offers the Vaio W with three color choices on the screen lid: white, brown, and pink. Glossiness is all the rage in netbooks these days - from screen lid, bezel, even palmrests - its everywhere, and so are your fingerprints, as a result. Thankfully, the Sony Vaio W doesn't come with a glossy screen lid, it has a smooth matte finish, like a typical Vaio notebook. In fact, there's not an inch of gloss on the netbook, not even on the screen bezel, and we like that. The build of the Vaio W is very good, too. The netbook oozes the aura of a premium, lifestyle product.
The Vaio W's 10.1-inch glossy screen is capable of 1366x768 resolution - most other 10-inch netbooks display only 1024x768 resolution. The Vaio W, therefore, gives you more desktop space in the same form factor, and I hope other netbook manufacturers follow this trend. The LED-backlit screen also has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is great for watching movies. Around the keyboard, including the palmrest and palmrest, Sony has adorned the Vaio W with finely textured plastic. The keyboard has chiclet-styled keys, and well spaced, but they are tiny in comparison to netbooks from Asus, Acer, or Samsung
The Sony Vaio W has standard netbook specs, nothing special. It has an Intel Atom N280 1.66-GHz processor, 1GB DDR2 RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. Sony also includes Gigabit Ethernet, draft-N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a webcam, for connectivity and communication. It has a multicard reader and Sony's proprietary MagicGate Memory Stick Pro DUO card, but disappointingly only two USB ports.
Port placement is well thought out on the Sony Vaio W. Take the front edge below the touchpad, for example: The power ON slider-button resides on the right corner, the Wi-Fi ON/OFF toggle on the left, and the two card readers in between them.
Even here, throughout our performance benchmarks, the Sony Vaio W did very little to differentiate itself from the rest of the netbook pack. A WorldBench 6 score of 36 is pretty average from a netbook. In real-world usage, its performance was in line with expectations. I was able to browse the Net on a browser with multiple tabs over Wi-Fi, while listening to music at the same time. Whether it was working with productivity suites or watching movies, it was all good on the Vaio W. However, I would like to draw your attention to the keyboard again - the tiny keys didn't help my chunky fingers while typing. Disappointingly, the three-cell battery didn't go past the three-hour mark while I was playing around with the Sony Vaio W.
The Sony Vaio W is certainly very well-designed and a stunner in terms of looks. But it is average, like any other netbook available today, in terms of internal hardware and performance. And it comes with a 3-cell battery, and poor battery life when compared to netbooks with 6-cell battery. Is it worth its billing of £399.99 - a good £60-70 more than mainstream 10-inch netbooks? Right now, we don't think so.