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
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.
|Price ex VAT||£358|
|Price inc VAT||£430|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||6|
|Dimensions||290 x 203 x 25mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD 6310|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||yes|
|Wireless key-combination switch||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|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|
|Pointing device type||Multitouch touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||7hr 21min|
|Battery life, heavy use||2hr 53min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.25|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|