The Bottom Line
- Faster Atom Processor
- Anti-Glare Display
- Above Average Build Quality
- Mediocre Battery Life
- Standard Keyboard Design Not As Nice As Chiclet Style
- Intel Atom N470 Single Core Mobile Processor
- 1GB PC2-5400 DDR2 Memory
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 10.1" WSVGA (1024x600) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel GMA 3150 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 2.0, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
- 10.6" x 7.2" x 1.3" @ 3.1 lbs.
- Windows 7 Starter
Guide Review - Sony VAIO M VPCM121AXL 10.1-inch Netbook PC
Aug 30 2010 - Sony's computer products have never been particularly affordable but the company has tried to change that in recent months. The Sony VAIO M on the exterior looks very similar in design to the VAIO W but their are some distinct differences including a much lower price tag of just $400.
One of the biggest differences with the VAIO M is the processor. It still uses the Intel Atom processor but it uses the faster N470 model running at 1.83GHz compared to the 1.66GHz of the N450. This gives it a slight edge in some tasks but for the most part many people probably won't notice much difference. It is still limited to just 1GB of memory by the Microsoft netbook licenses that has the greatest impact on performance.
The other major change is the display. The VAIO M still uses a 10.1-inch display but it uses the much more common 1024x600 resolution typical of most netbooks. This is lower than the VAIO W and likely constitutes the biggest reason for the drop in price. At least Sony decided to keep the anti-glare coating of the display which helps greatly when using the netbook outside or in difficult lighting conditions that afflict many netbooks that use glossy displays. The faster Atom processor doesn't help at all with HD video streaming though as this model still uses the Intel GMA 3150 with its extremely limited graphics performance.
The last major difference on the VAIO M is the keyboard. Unlike the isolated board design of the VAIO W, this one uses a more traditional keyboard design. This was probably done to save some money on the cost of production but with the limited space and the layout, it is not the easiest or comfortable of keyboard designs. At least they have retained the above average sized trackpad layout that is a bit more functional.
Sony has not had some of the better battery life times with their netbooks and the VAIO M isn't really any different. It does uses a six-cell battery pack that is flush but this means a smaller overall capacity. In my video streaming playback test, the unit was only able to run just over four hours before going into standby mode. Users should expect a little more than five hours of more typical usage. Either way, this falls below the average six-cell netbook and far from the class leading units that can achieve over eight..
The remaining features are pretty typical of the netbook segment include a 250GB hard drive, multicard reading and three USB ports instead of just the two found in the previous VAIO W. This makes the VAIO M definitely more expensive than many other similarly equipped netbooks on the market. The only real difference between the Sony and others is probably the build quality. It has a much better fit and finish than the average netbook but for many this probably won't justify the extra cost.