Sony VAIO P Series (2nd gen) review

Price when reviewed

We found it difficult to find anything positive to say in our review of the first Sony P Series. It seemed Sony had taken the idea of miniaturisation too far, with its quest to shrink a laptop to the size of a keyboard forcing excessive sacrifices. The company, oddly, appears to have ignored us. It decided instead that the P Series just needed a few more tweaks and it would have a winner on its hands.

Certainly, it hasn’t been afraid to ring the changes, with the most immediately obvious being its styling. No longer subdued and professional, the new VAIO P Series shouts “look at me!” in its three most colourful incarnations: vivid green, pink and orange. If you’re a little more self-effacing, white and black versions are also on offer.

Sony bravely sent us the orange version for review, and to say it received a mixed reaction would be to lie. We struggled to find anyone who didn’t have some insult to hurl in the P Series’ direction. Most of the comments are unprintable, so let’s just say that people will notice what’s in your hands if you opt for orange.

Whichever colour you choose, there are some nice design touches to appreciate. Most manufacturers stick with a non-descript grey or black keyboard no matter what bright colours surround it, but Sony matches the keys’ colour to that of the casing – and it certainly adds to the design’s impact. We also like the way the trim curves around the side of the chassis when the P Series is closed.

Sony VAIO P Series keyboard

A more subtle change can be seen to either side of the screen. Sony’s designers realised that people often used their P Series to view documents or websites, and would hold the laptop with their thumbs resting on the screen edge. To make navigation easier, they’ve added a tiny touchpad (measuring 16mm x 16mm) to the right of the screen, with left- and right-click buttons to the left.

It’s a strange idea, and when sitting at a desk it seems pointless. To move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other takes three good swipes and quickly frustrates. When you’re out and about with the P Series it does work, however, particularly when you’re using the built-in GPS and trying to navigate the streets using Sony’s Location Search software (powered by Google Maps). That said, you’ll have to be patient while you wait for the GPS radio to get a fix, and walking along the street with a laptop open is a whole lot less discreet than with a smartphone.

Sony also includes a Digital Compass, so you should always know which way you’re facing when gazing at a map, but even more interesting is the accelerometer. This flips the P Series into portrait mode when you put it into a vertical position, which can be useful if you’re reading a web article with only a limited width. Sony appears to also think you can read books and digital magazines this way, but without a touchscreen – and at just 768 pixels wide – it isn’t a pleasurable experience.


We have mixed feelings about the screen itself too. As with the first P Series, squeezing 1,600 x 768 pixels into an 8in diagonal makes system text look tiny, and it isn’t helped by a slightly mottled display: Word documents, for example, look fuzzy. One big help, however, is the new Change Resolution button that sits to the right of the mouse buttons. Press this and within a second the resolution switches to 1,280 x 600.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions245 x 120 x 19.8mm (WDH)
Travelling weight836g

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Atom Z540
RAM capacity2.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total1

Screen and video

Screen size8.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,600
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1600 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 500
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity53GB
Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceParallel ATA
Hard diskSanDisk pSSD-P2
Optical disc technologyNone
Optical driveN/A
Battery capacity2,500mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapteryes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)2
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTrackpoint
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 17min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 41min
Overall application benchmark score0.31
Office application benchmark score0.31
2D graphics application benchmark score0.33
Encoding application benchmark score0.31
Multitasking application benchmark score0.28
3D performance (crysis) low settingsN/A
3D performance settingN/A

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedMicrosoft Office Starter 2010

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