Sony is a brand usually synonymous with high quality machines and while the Vaio VPCM11M1E/W isn't the most expensive netbook around, it simply doesn't meet the usual high standards we expect from the Japanese company on a number of levels - even if the usual usability is good.

The first – and possibly most serious – is portability. The netbook is small and relatively robust, but also feels unusually heavy.

Battery life is disappointing and will only give you 301 minutes between charges, meaning you'll have to carry the charger around with you if you're going to be out and about for long periods.

A basic paint scheme has been employed, yet the silver chassis and white lid are attractive enough in their own way. Both feature a matt finish, meaning the netbook doesn't suffer the scratches and marks of its shinier colleagues, although the white lid will need the occasional wipe with a cloth to keep looking smart.

As mentioned above, the laptop is robust enough to endure a life on the road, but we did encounter some build quality issues. Most noticeable was that the rubber feet on the base of the chassis weren't aligned correctly and the netbook rocked on the desk as we typed, which was a little disconcerting.

The screen is excellent, however. It may not be the most detailed, but brightness is commendable and the colour reproduction also impressed. Like the Asus and Samsung, there is no shiny Super-TFT screen coating employed and we had no issues with reflections when working in bright conditions as a result.

Excellent keyboard

With this netbook, Sony has moved away from the isolated key style it often uses; yet despite a tiny amount of flex, the keyboard provides a fantastic typing experience that's both fluid and intuitive.

Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly connect the netbook to various peripherals – most commonly smartphones – but while the three USB ports are standard, Sony has inconveniently grouped them together on the right side of the chassis. This is unfortunate in that the use of one large peripheral is likely to block at least one other port, rendering it completely useless.

The Sony Vaio VPCM11M1E/W is a bit of a mixed bag. While usability is generally good, poor portability and suspect build quality let the side down badly. Ultimately, we expect more from Sony.