Sony VAIO VGN-P11Z/R review

The most portable device we've seen to date, but it comes at a price

Our Verdict

A bit of a mixed bag, the Vaio-P has some outstanding features but it's badly let down by the not so good ones

For

  • Great screen
  • Interesting form
  • Very lightweight

Against

  • A bit slow
  • Expensive for what it is

Sony's P11Z/R stands out from the crowd, due to the unique form factor and unrivalled portability. Everything about the P-series is optimised for mobility.

When it comes to styling, the slim rectangular design owes more to pocket organisers than it does laptops and, at 625g, it really is a device you'll be able to take everywhere you go.

Similar in size to a regular paperback book, it's only the width of the machine that stops it sliding comfortably into coat pockets. Open it up and you'll find an ultrawide display and a large keyboard.

The screen is the most unusual we've seen on any laptop as, despite the 8-inch size, it features a sharp resolution of 1600 x 768 pixels. Images are therefore incredibly detailed, although text and icons may be too small for some users.

The wide aspect ratio means you'll also find black bars appearing on both sides when watching movies, but the quality of the display is far higher than the netbooks that this machine shares most of its internals with.

The keyboard is exceptional considering this machine's size, with plenty of space between the large flat keys, making it easy to type without mistakes. The size of the chassis means there's no space for a touchpad, however, with the cursor being controlled by a responsive pointing stick in the centre of the keyboard. It's not ideal, but it's a reasonable compromise.

Low-end components

You'll find an Intel Atom processor running at 1.33GHz at the heart of this device. Backed by 2048MB of memory, it's a little disappointing at this price point, and struggles to run the Windows Vista OS convincingly. Once up and running, we found performance was better, as long as your needs don't stretch further than word processing or watching the occasional film.

As with the other laptops here, wireless connectivity is to the fore, with a 3G/ HSDPA adapter allowing you to browse the web when on the move. Sony bundles its own software to connect to the web, but it's not network-specific, so you'll be able to choose your own network provider. We found internet connections to be rapid, but sometimes proved unstable on trains.

802.11n Wi-Fi allows more consistent connections when in range of suitable networks, and the Sony also comes with a USB Ethernet adapter, allowing you to join fixed networks once you get to the office.

The VAIO P-series is an interesting proposition, and whether you'll like it or not depends almost entirely on what your needs are. If you're looking for the most portable, go-anywhere device around, then it's simply peerless. It is expensive, however, and don't expect it to replace your main laptop.