Sponsored Links

Sony doth protest too much: don't call the VAIO P a netbook?

Sony doth protest too much: don't call the VAIO P a netbook?
Joshua Topolsky
Joshua Topolsky|January 20, 2009 8:53 PM

Our main man "Rick" over at the Sony Blog has penned another short-form stunner entitled "You Can't Tell a Netbook by its Cover," which aims to dispel the seemingly persistent myth that the VAIO P is... gasp, a netbook. We'd thought we'd break down the points (which Sony has helpfully broken down) and see if they hold water. Since the Sony Blog moves through these killers one-by-one, we're going to do the same -- read on for the hard facts.
The keyboard: Sony claims the size of the keyboard gives the P non-netbook bragging rights. We'd almost agree -- the length of the keyboard is impressive -- but actually the keys are Lilliputian in scale, and not much easier to tap away on than similar netbooky models.

The screen: They mention that the screen is backlit. We're not sure if that's an attempted dig at other laptops in this class or not, but every netbook screen we've seen is backlit. Every. One. We'll give them this though, the VAIO P destroys the competition when it comes to resolution. Unfortunately, you pay for those pixels, and reading text on this super high-res (yet super tiny) screen is not... er, not super pleasant.

The core: It has an Atom Z processor. They pretty much all have an Atom processor these days, though it's interesting to note that the Z chips are actually considered MID or UMPC processors, though are functionally the same in comparison to the more oft-used N series. Also worth mentioning: the VAIO P's CPU speed is clocked slower (1.3GHz) than most of its competition on the market (1.6GHz). Next!

The wireless capabilities: You're touting the WiFi? Really Sony? Moving briskly along, the VAIO P offers EV-DO on Verizon's network. Nice touch. Of course, for an additional $125, you can snag 3G connectivity on the Dell Mini 9 and 12, and it's built right in to HP's Mini 1000 (accessible with a little driver magic). Those aren't the only options -- and there's plenty more on the way. Really looking for a staggering price difference? Buy a 3G-infused Mini 9 for $99 (tied to a two-year contract). At least you're not dropping $900 plus the contract.

GPS: Now it's true, there aren't a ton of netbooks on the market with GPS, though the new LG X110 will sport it (and HSDPA) for far less cash than the P, and for those willing to get their hands a little dirty, you can strike navigation gold on the Mini 9 with a little hack. Still, the VAIO P comes loaded with GPS, no muss, no fuss, and you can't take that away from it.

Dual OS: Ah yes, the dual OSs of Microsoft Windows Vista and... Sony's Xross Media Bar interface? Listen, we love the XMB Sony, but that ain't no OS. We do like the instant-on option here, but we're just not sure you can properly refer to it as an operating system. And of course, quickboot options are available on numerous other laptops in this class.

The options: The VAIO P offers SSD options on top of traditional hard drives. For lots more money. So do other makers. Plus, there are myriad third party options to add an SSD. This point is bunk on many levels, particularly because an option that adds a huge cost to the laptop doesn't count as a basic point to distance it from netbooks. You can pay a lot of money to get an SSD in a lot of laptops, netbook or not.

Which brings us to our final -- and perhaps most telling -- point. Price. Rick boasts that the VAIO P starts at an "ain't cheap" $900 and goes up from there. And let's be honest Sony, this is really your hook, line, and sinker in the "it's not a netbook" argument. It simply costs more. A cost which, as you stated in your press conference at CES, you want users to "aspire" to pay. That may be fine for the few who don't mind getting taken for a ride when there are plenty of viable, less expensive options, but in an economic climate where jobs are being cut by the thousands every day, this point is borderline offensive.

You want to sell a netbook as something else on the merit of its cost, and that's fine by us. Just don't expect an informed public to go along for the ride.