Sony VAIO Y Series Notebook Review

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User Experience



Using the new VAIO Y Series was a blast. It's fun to carry around, it's stylish, it's quick and the keyboard/trackpad are two of the best we've used. The hardware setup is almost identical to that found in the ThinkPad Edge 13", and thus, the performance is essentially exactly the same. In fact, the Windows 7 Experience scores from both machines were 3.4. So spec wise, there isn't anything here that would make you spring for a Sony over a Lenovo.


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That said, we did greatly prefer the keyboard setup on the VAIO. As we mentioned earlier, the way that Sony dips their keyboard here and raised the palm rest made for an extremely comfortable experience. The ThinkPad Edge 13" also has a slightly lowered keyboard, but the palm rests aren't arched to give your wrists that additional support. Also, the expansive trackpad here was just about perfect in our eyes. It reacted to our finger inputs exactly as it should have, and the split right/left click buttons exhibited the perfect amount of travel. With an ultraportable, you'll be using the keyboard and trackpad an awful lot, so it's important to get a machine that has a keyboard and trackpad that you'll enjoy using.


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Sony also managed to space out the keyboard very well. We had no troubles adjusting to the layout, and while there's no dedicated row of multi-function or multi-media keys, the Fn key along with the standard layout can toggle a number of shortcuts. We found that the experience within Windows 7 was right in line with other ultraportables of this stature, not feeling any faster or slower than Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge 13". Bootup and application loading were both acceptably quick, and the inclusion of 4GB of memory certainly helped when it came time to multitask.


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Overall, the machine kept cool and quiet, and the integrated speakers (which sit just above the top row of keys) were satisfactory for a laptop. The display was also a gem. The viewing angles were great, and the only gripe we had with it was that it was glossy. Movies tended to "pop" (as most Sony panels do), and colors seemed exceptionally saturated (but not blown out). We tend to take our ultraportables outside a lot, and having a matte panel would greatly enhance outdoor visibility. One quirk that we found interesting was that the power button is on one side of the machine rather than near the keyboard; we don't exactly like this setup, because this button can easily be pressed by accessories in your bag if you just slide your notebook down without thinking about its position. When a power button resides underneath the top panel, you have to actually open your machine before your deliberately boot it up.


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As for multimedia and gaming, one was possible while the other was not. As with the ThinkPad Edge 13", we had no issues playing back our library of 720p and 1080p content. We never saw the CPU utilization meter break 40%, even while tasks were going on in the background. Gaming, however, is pretty much out of the question, as you'd expect on a CULV-based machine without a discreet GPU. Newer first-person shooters cannot be played enjoyably at any resolution, though some older titles may fare well if you crank the details down. Still, don't buy this machine (or any CULV machine with integrated graphics) with a serious intention of gaming.

     
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