Sony VAIO Y Series (2011) review
Thin, light and long-lasting, and with a touch more power than you’d expect at this size and price
Review Date: 20 Jul 2011
Reviewed By: David Bayon
Price when reviewed: £358 (£430 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
AMD’s Fusion platform is gradually shaking up the affordable end of the laptop market, so much so that even the big guns are beginning to dabble. After phasing out last year’s 13.3in Intel-based VAIO Y Series, Sony has brought it back in name only – this new Y Series comes with a new screen size and entirely new AMD internals.
It’s now a tiny 11.6in portable, but the design remains broadly the same as its predecessor. A curved wristrest leads up to the familiar Scrabble-tile keyboard, and above that it has the same brightly coloured lid and bezel on an offset, dipping hinge. Our sample came with a hideous pink lid, but you can opt for all silver to reduce the strain on your eyes.
It’s the internals that we’re most interested in, however. Sony has fitted this little laptop with a 1.6GHz AMD E-350 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard disk, a core specification that dispels any idea that this might be little more than a flashy netbook.
In our benchmarks, it shuffled along to an overall score of 0.25 – hardly groundbreaking in overall laptop terms, but a significant 25% faster than the best Atom netbook we’ve tested. In the Responsiveness test, which tells us how low-power systems will cope with daily Windows use, it scored an impressive 0.4, and it managed 0.14 in the Multitasking test – most netbooks have only 1GB of RAM and struggle to hit 0.1.
The E-350 is certainly a step up from the C-50 netbook chip AMD uses in netbooks such as the Toshiba NB550D, but we’ve seen from past tests that the greater strength of Fusion lies in graphics. The VAIO Y Series comes with AMD’s Radeon HD 6310 graphics, and it performed exactly as we’d hoped. While Crysis is asking a bit much of such a low-end laptop, it ran the more modest TrackMania Nations Forever benchmark at the native 1,366 x 768 resolution and Medium settings at 29fps.
It also played back 720p video in several formats flawlessly, as well as 1080p video in some forms. YouTube HD was smooth at 1080p, as were several MOV files; iPlayer HD proved a step too far, however, and some MKV files were a bit juddery. Choose your media carefully and it will cope, plus the Sony has an HMDI port on its left edge should you wish to output video to an external display.
Yes the price of only £429 does make it appealing, however a search using the part code and most places seem to have them at £650!
By billy_love on 20 Jul 2011
Pretty scandalous isn't it. If you buy direct from a Sony store it's £429.
By davidb_pro on 21 Jul 2011
A cheaper option?
Lenovo Ideapad s205 comes in under £300. Exactly the same specs though.
By cm_17 on 27 Jul 2011
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