Sony VAIO Y Series (2011) review

£430
Price when reviewed

AMD’s Fusion platform is gradually shaking up the affordable end of the laptop market, so much so that even the big guns are beginning to dabble. After phasing out last year’s 13.3in Intel-based VAIO Y Series, Sony has brought it back in name only – this new Y Series comes with a new screen size and entirely new AMD internals.

It’s now a tiny 11.6in portable, but the design remains broadly the same as its predecessor. A curved wristrest leads up to the familiar Scrabble-tile keyboard, and above that it has the same brightly coloured lid and bezel on an offset, dipping hinge. Our sample came with a hideous pink lid, but you can opt for all silver to reduce the strain on your eyes.

It’s the internals that we’re most interested in, however. Sony has fitted this little laptop with a 1.6GHz AMD E-350 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard disk, a core specification that dispels any idea that this might be little more than a flashy netbook.

Sony VAIO Y Series (2011)

In our benchmarks, it shuffled along to an overall score of 0.25 – hardly groundbreaking in overall laptop terms, but a significant 25% faster than the best Atom netbook we’ve tested. In the Responsiveness test, which tells us how low-power systems will cope with daily Windows use, it scored an impressive 0.4, and it managed 0.14 in the Multitasking test – most netbooks have only 1GB of RAM and struggle to hit 0.1.

The E-350 is certainly a step up from the C-50 netbook chip AMD uses in netbooks such as the Toshiba NB550D, but we’ve seen from past tests that the greater strength of Fusion lies in graphics. The VAIO Y Series comes with AMD’s Radeon HD 6310 graphics, and it performed exactly as we’d hoped. While Crysis is asking a bit much of such a low-end laptop, it ran the more modest TrackMania Nations Forever benchmark at the native 1,366 x 768 resolution and Medium settings at 29fps.

It also played back 720p video in several formats flawlessly, as well as 1080p video in some forms. YouTube HD was smooth at 1080p, as were several MOV files; iPlayer HD proved a step too far, however, and some MKV files were a bit juddery. Choose your media carefully and it will cope, plus the Sony has an HMDI port on its left edge should you wish to output video to an external display.

Physical specifications

Dimensions290 x 203 x 25mm (WDH)
Weight1.400kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorAMD E-350
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Screen size11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetAMD Radeon HD 6310
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0

Drives

Capacity320GB
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveN/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

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

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeMultitouch touchpad
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.3mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use7hr 21min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 53min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.25
Responsiveness score0.40
Media score0.22
Multitasking score0.14

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS familyWindows 7

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