Sony VAIO Y Series review

3 Jun 2010

A gorgeous, light and long-lasting ultraportable, but it's far pricier than the competition

Price when reviewed: 
700(£699 inc VAT)
4

Intel refreshed its low-voltage mobile processor range last month, and manufacturers have been quick to take advantage. Sony's take on the CULV laptop blueprint, the VAIO Y Series, is one of the first to upgrade.

The original version launched early this year, it's a 13.3in ultraportable that combines light weight, good looks and some typically fine attention to detail, and it's getting the full Intel treatment for summer.

Sony VAIO Y Series

Don't be fooled by the Pentium logo on the outside, the Y Series' U5400 processor is based on the same technology that powers Intel's lightning-fast Core i3, i5 and i7 processors. It's one of the new 32nm CULV breed promising a TDP of just 18W, and the reason for its Pentium branding is that the most exciting features of the full Core architecture, such as Turbo Boost, come disabled.

It's still more than a match for the processors it replaces, though. Compare it to its Core 2-based predecessor, the 1.3GHz SU4100, and despite sacrificing 100MHz on each of its two cores, the 1.2GHz Pentium U5400 stays neck-and-neck with an overall score of 0.67 in our benchmarks.

The processor also features on-chip Intel HD graphics, and it marks a subtle improvement on the previous generation. As ever, 1080p high definition video plays back without a hitch, and lightweight gaming titles such as TrackMania Nations Forever gave noticeably more playable framerates, even at the panel's native 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution. It also managed 13fps in Crysis at Low settings, up from 5fps on the old Y Series.

So the processor means as much (or more) power, with supposedly lower power consumption, but don't expect a portable revolution. We clocked the VAIO lasting for 9hrs 25mins during our light-usage test, while pushing it flat-out reduced that to 3hrs 17mins. It's still highly impressive for any laptop, granted, but we had hoped that the arrival of Intel's new breed would have more of an impact.

Details

Price ex VAT £596
Price inc VAT £700
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 326 x 227 x 32mm (WDH)
Weight 1.680kg
Travelling weight 1.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Pentium U5400
Motherboard chipset Intel HM55 Express
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Intel HD graphics
Graphics card RAM 128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9320325AS
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 5,000mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch no
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Above keyboard
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 9hr 25min
Battery life, heavy use 3hr 17min
Overall application benchmark score 0.67
Office application benchmark score 0.62
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.77
Encoding application benchmark score 0.66
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.62

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A