Exclusive First Look Review: Sony's Vaio X might be the thinnest and lightest notebook ever

 

In a world first, we've managed to get our hands on a review unit of Sony's stunningly thin ultraportable. Most surprisingly, it sports the newest Atom chip from Intel - the Z550 2.0GHz and GMA 500 graphics.

View larger image View larger image View larger image

See all pictures here »

The first thing that grabbed our attention when we fired up the review unit wasn't the unit's obvious good looks or the screen's crystal clear TFT display (1366 x 788 LED backlight), but it was Intel's latest CPU advance, the Z550 Atom.

The 2.0 GHz chip, which hasn't been seen outside of Japan until now, is primarily used in another of Sony's netbooks - the Japanese Sony Vaio P model.

And while critics haven't been overly kind to the Vaio P, we're pretty sure most people are going to love the mysterious Vaio X for entirely different reasons: it's sleek, relatively fast, has a decent battery life and most of all, it's also very, very light (655 grams to be specific).

click to view full size image
The Sony Vaio X series : one of the most attractive ultraportables we've ever reviewed

We were lucky enough to be the first to review the Vaio X in not just Australia, but the world. Sony lent us the VPCX117LG/B to check out, an international model that features identical specs as the Australian unit, but without on-board 3G - a feature the Australian model (VPCX118LG/B) thankfully includes. Sure enough, that's going to be a sorely missed feature for international Vaio users.

click to view full size image
At 13.9mm the Vaio X is extremely thin

Specs
At $2499, Sony are happy to call this a notebook - and at this price, we'd be inclined to agree. However, the usual netbook characteristics apply to the Vaio X: a small form factor (11.1in size), an incredibly light weight and an Atom chip. But not just any Atom.

Speed wise, the X is no slouch either. When the Atom Z550 chip was first announced in April earlier this year, netbook users were keen to see how the chip's multi-threading and low-power needs (it runs at less than 3 watts) would translate into real computing power.

At first look, the good news is that the X copes rasther well with the new chip design. Our test unit had a quick response time, with programs opening quickly and playing without lag. The Vaio X is obviously helped by the presence of 2GB of RAM and Windows 7 Professional (32-bit) - made to run on lower power Atom machines.

Two other X models; the VPCX113KG/B ($1,699) and the VPCX115LG/B ($1,899) will also go on sale in Australia for significantly less, but will ship with more basic versions of Windows 7 as a result.

Apart from OS changes, the only notable hardware differences between these cheaper models are their lack of 3G support and the inclusion of the Z540 (1.86Ghz) Atom chips, instead of the more superior Z550 models.

click to view full size image
Magazine thin. And at 655 grams this a great ultraportable for business travellers

Storage, wireless
But there are some other nice surprises on the X, including a shock proof 120GB SSD (huge, considering the average SSD size is just 64GB) and some improvements in wireless functionality. The Australian X118/B will come with WWAN for greater outdoor signal coverage. It's also the first Vaio model to feature integrated 3G. It's ready to go with Optus, but Sony tells us it will work with other carriers too.

Graphics
In addition to the Z550 chip, Intel's other big chipset is also onboard: the new GMA 500 supports MPEG 2, MPEG 4, H.264, VC1 and WMV9 decoding for 720p HD image processing. The better processing ability of this graphics chip should be heartening to multimedia users, who are probably eyeing Nvidia's Ion system for their next netbook by now.

Design
Last but not least, design is probably the number one factor most are going to celebrate with the X. The unit is encased in sleek carbon fibre, giving it a super-slim, modern look. It's magazine-light form factor is actually a world record setting 13.9mm thin. Porting it around the office hardly felt like carrying a laptop at all. It's that good.

Competitors such as MSI's X340 (20mm) and Apple's Macbook Air (19.4mm) are not even close. Sony Vaio's have a history of lightweight, super-thin form factors - but never one as good as this. The chrome alloy plating is modern and sleek, keeping fingerprints at bay. 

click to view full size image
Sony's standard chicklet keyboard applies.

Sony's new high speed Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo cards are also supported in the X118 model, and there's an SD card slot thrown in for good measure.

Battery
The X118 should also be good for a long distance flight. Using the optional battery Sony claims the Vaio X will run for a whopping 14.5 hours (though we suggest real-world useage will likely be less). The standard wafer thin battery which ships with the X118 is also rated to 4100mah; good for 6.5 hours, according to official Sony specs.

Overall
This is a must-own Vaio, the best we've ever seen from Sony. It's attractive, light weight and easy to travel with, whether for business or for pleasure. It is the ultimate ultraportable, a notebook of such lightweight description - we're just waiting for the competition to grab their tongues and try and make something that comes close. Sure, it's not a gaming machine - but it will please most others.

 


 
Overall Rating
Product Info
Supplier:
 
Price when reviewed:
AUD$2499
 
 
 
Top Stories
Hockey flags billion-dollar Centrelink mainframe replacement
Claims 30 year-old tech is holding Govt back.
 
Ombudsman wants to monitor warrantless metadata access
Requests ability to report publicly.
 
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
What are Microsoft Office 365 'Groups'?
Apr 24, 2014
It's one of the biggest changes we're seeing in software like Microsoft Office. Click here for a ...
Preview of new PowerPoint tool Office Mix announced
Apr 23, 2014
PowerPoint users might be interested in some new developments coming up that might change the ...
Another phone with Telstra's Blue Tick: The Samsung Galaxy S5
Apr 8, 2014
Samsung's latest flagship phone joins Telstra's list of recommended handsets for customers in ...
Run an online shop? This might be worth bookmarking
Mar 28, 2014
Things like Australian safety standards are probably the last thing on your mind, but just ...
Vodafone switches on 4G in Tasmania: list of locations
Mar 28, 2014
See a list of locations in Tasmania that now have access to 4G via Vodafone's network.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  12%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  23%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1516

Vote