The Bottom Line
- Very Good High Definition Display
- Nice Trackpad
- Just Two USB Ports
- Keyboard Small For 10-inch Netbook
- Intel Atom N450 Mobile Processor
- 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 Memory
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 10.1" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel GMA 3150 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 2.0, VGA, Memory Stick Slot, SD Card Slot
- 10.5" x 7.1" x 2.0" @ 2.9 lbs.
- Windows 7 Starter
Guide Review - Sony VAIO VPC-W211AX/W 10.1-inch Netbook PC
Feb 26 2010 - From the exterior, the new Sony VAIO VPC-W211AX/W looks pretty much identical to the original VAIO W netbook release. This means that the system shares the same physical flaws with its forerunner. Most notable of these is the smaller than average keyboard design. Sure, it uses an isolated keyboard design but the keys themselves are smaller because Sony didn't want to use the full width for the keyboard. At least Sony keeps its sizable and very functional trackpad below the keyboard that is one of the better on the market.
Another nice feature that is retained from the original VAIO W is the 10.1-inch display with its high resolution 1366x768 display. This is one of the nicest displays available in the netbook market and having the extra pixels makes browsing the web and using applications much more pleasant. Those hoping to view some HD content will be disappointed to know that the new GMA 3150 graphics still lacks the performance required for smooth 720p HD video playback.
The new Intel Atom N450 processor is supposed to be more energy efficient than the previous N280 model but it doesn't really add any performance. There is a slight boost in some applications but this is imperceptible to the average user. Most of the performance is still limited by the 1GB of memory that is required for the Windows netbook licensing. At least the licensing allows for larger hard drives which Sony has used to place a 250GB drive over the previous 160GB drive.
In terms of the overall battery life, the new VAIO W is certainly a bit step up from the previous generation. Much of this is thanks to the 6-cell battery standard instead of the 3-cell version. This does add bulk with the battery pack sticking out below and behind the hinge. During my video playback tests, it was able to run for roughly five and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. Expect around seven hours of more typical web usage. This is fairly typical of the netbooks with a similar setup but far behind the class leader ASUS.
The biggest drawback to Sony's netbooks continue to be their price. At $450, the VAIO W211 is on the higher end of netbook market. While it has a high definition screen, the graphics still are lacking for those hoping to use it for media. For just a bit more one can move up to the NVIDIA ION models for that feature.