I love the idea of a Vaio netbook, but the only thing that actually gets me going about the first of inevitably many Sony Vaio W netbooks is the 1366x768 10.1-inch screen (which ain't even unique). It's pretty, though.
And that is the selling point, almost entirely, over other netbooks. It's prettier (admittedly, it is). But that's less compelling now that it was six months ago, when netbooks were universally miserable looking machines. When I asked what distinguishes the Vaio W from the other third wave premium netbooks—notably the Asus Eee Seashell and HP's new aluminum and magnesium-clad Mini, which are just $430 and $450 respectively, Sony pointed at its "stunning" colors, like its "very stylish" brown. That would hold more weight if this lovely paint job and design (I dig the trackpad a lot) were applied to metal, so it came with a notably superior build quality too. But it's plastic.
Your only choice is which of the three colors you want. There's a single hardware configuration, and the specs are pedestrian, save for the 1366x768 10.1-inch screen: Atom N280, 160GB HDD (5400rpm), 1GB RAM, wireless N, A2DP stereo Bluetooth, and a pair of USB ports.
To their credit, Sony has learned from the Vaio P (though it has a totally different audience) and plans to make it painfully clear that users shouldn't expect an experience comparable to a regular notebook. Talk of establishing a "clear gulf" between their netbooks and "mainstream" notebooks also made it clear to me they're not interested in dabbling in netbooks that straddle the weird, blurry line between netbook and notebook in either with experiments like Ion, either.
I'll withhold final judgment until I use it, but so far Sony's first ever bona fide Vaio netbook is having the extremely odd effect of just making the Vaio P not-a-netbook look even better. (As long as it's running Windows 7.) If I'm going to pay extra scratch for design, I might as well go all the way, right?
Sony DEBUTS HOT NEW Mini Notebook IN COOL NEW COLORS
VAIO W Series Ideal for Casual Computing and Staying Connected
SAN DIEGO, July 7, 2009 – Sony today took the wraps off its chic new line of mini notebooks- the VAIO® W Series.
Featuring an ultra-portable design, the W Series is perfect for using as a secondary PC, in any room of the house, for surfing the web, checking e-mail, and social networking.
The W model comes in three vibrant colors- berry pink, sugar white and cocoa brown. A more subtle shade of the exterior hue finishes the inside of the PC while the touchpad is lined with a splash of brightness.
"The W Series lets you quickly look something up online whether searching for a recipe in the kitchen or relaxing on your recliner- there's no need to trudge upstairs to your office," said Mike Abary, senior vice president of the VAIO business group at Sony. "And it's sturdy enough for the kids to use, making it perfect for every member of the family."
The W Series incorporates a high-resolution, 1366 x 768, LED backlit 10.1-inch (measured diagonally) ultra-wide display, making it easy to view two full web pages- no side-to-side scrolling necessary.
The model features an isolated keyboard with springy and responsive keys making it comfortable and easy to use. Its carefully designed touchpad and mouse keys make the PC functional and mouse movements easy to control.
The W Series unit is ENERGY STAR® 5.0 compliant, EPEAT Gold registered and incorporates eco-conscious features such as a mercury-free LED backlit LCD. Its corrugated cardboard packaging is comprised of 95 percent recycled content. Sony will also help recycle your old PC (www.sony.com/green; recycling fees may apply).
The model comes with VAIO Media plus Multimedia Streaming software, a media sharing application that lets you wirelessly stream content across DLNA®-enabled devices throughout your home network. Stream video, music and pictures from your W Series to your compatible primary PC or PLAYSTATION®3 and vice-versa and enjoy your content anywhere in the home including on your big-screen TV.
Easily transfer data, such as photos from your digital camera or music from an MP3 player, to and from the PC with the unit's two convenient USB ports. Incorporated Bluetooth® technology enables peripherals such as a wireless mouse to be utilized without tying up the unit's ports.
A built-in webcam and microphone let you video chat with family, friends and colleagues. A third-party internet service provider is required.
A roomy 160GB hard drive has been included providing ample storage for all your photos, files and videos. It comes pre-installed with Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition operating system.
The VAIO W Series mini notebook will retail for about $500. It is available for pre-orders today online at www.sonystyle.com/pr/w. It will also be sold at Sony Style® stores and at other major retailers around the country starting next month.