Sony VAIO Y Series (2011) review

20 Jul 2011

Thin, light and long-lasting, and with a touch more power than you’d expect at this size and price

Price when reviewed 
430
5

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.

Sony VAIO Y Series (2011)

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £358
Price inc VAT £430
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 6
Performance 3

Physical specifications

Dimensions 290 x 203 x 25mm (WDH)
Weight 1.400kg

Processor and memory

Processor AMD E-350
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 6310
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
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
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 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire 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 Multitouch touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 7hr 21min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 53min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.25
Responsiveness score 0.40
Media score 0.22
Multitasking score 0.14

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows 7