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Sony Finally Caves, Launches Netbook

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

Sony has debuted the Vaio W, the machine Sony is calling the company's first netbook while ignoring the fact that it said it would never produce a netbook.

In January, Sir Howard Stringer showed off the company's Vaio P-Series Lifestyle PC. It wasn't a netbook, except it kind of was. In response to all the, "why would Sony launch a $900 netbook and refuse to call it a netbook?" press, the company said it would not be releasing a netbook because the whole netbook market was “a race to the bottom.”

So completely ignoring all of that, Sony has introduced the Vaio W-Series, a $500, 10 inch netbook based on Intel's Atom. A 1.6 GHz CPU, 1,366 x 768 display, 160 GB HDD, 1 GB of RAM, 2 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, Bluetooth, 802.11a/b/g, an SD reader, as well as support for Sony's own Memory Stick Duo, Windows XP Home, VGA out, and a webcam.

Expected availability is set for about August and customers will have a choice of white, brown or pink. For those of you interested in how the Vaio W measures up to the Vaio P, check the table below. Bear in mind we don't have an official specs sheet for the W-Series (the press release was pretty skimpy on details) so we're just filling in parts we do know.

[UPDATE] Updated to include official specs from Sony spec sheet.


Sony Vaio P-Series
Sony Vaio W-Series
Display
8 inch, 1600 x 768, LED backlit
10.1 inch, 1,366 x 768, LED backlit
CPUIntel Atom 1.86 GHz
Intel Atom 1.66 GHz
RAM2 GB of DDR2
1 GB DDR2
StorageUp to 256 GB SSD
160 GB HDD
Expansion slotsMemory Stick PRO (Standard/Duo) media slot with MagicGate functionality, SD memory card slot
Memory Stick PRO (Standard/Duo) media slot with MagicGate functionality, SD memory card slot
Connectivity802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth,Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband Built-In
802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth
Ports
Audio out, 2 x USB 2.0, Display/LAN adapter port
Audio out, 2 x USB 2.0, VGA, Ethernet
OS
Windows Vista Home Premium (32 bit)
Windows XP Home Edition (32 bit)
Display 23 Comments.
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  • 0 Hide
    scook9 , July 7, 2009 5:01 PM
    well if it is ION and 50 cheaper, I'd consider that the netbook that I would buy if it gets a 3rd USB and wireless n and a webcam.

    So I guess Sony actually still has a ways to go.
  • 0 Hide
    dark_lord69 , July 7, 2009 5:28 PM
    All netbooks are crap.
    This one would be decent if it was the ION platform...
    BUT if you are going to spend that much you might as well buy a full size, faster, and all around better laptop.

    You can get a nice laptop for $600-$700 with a MUCH better cpu, more memory and a bigger screen.

    Don't waste your money on a stupid trend.
    These crappy low powered overpriced "NetBooks" are exactly why Sony said: 'the whole netbook market was “a race to the bottom.”'
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , July 7, 2009 5:29 PM
    Why the downgrade on CPU and RAM?

    And why no black/red?
  • 4 Hide
    Master Exon , July 7, 2009 5:32 PM
    Kind pointless. It is a $175~ premium for nothing more than the word Sony and a 720p screen.
  • 5 Hide
    warezme , July 7, 2009 5:57 PM
    will apple be far behind?
  • 1 Hide
    GrowingTuna , July 7, 2009 6:23 PM
    dark_lord69All netbooks are crap.This one would be decent if it was the ION platform...BUT if you are going to spend that much you might as well buy a full size, faster, and all around better laptop. You can get a nice laptop for $600-$700 with a MUCH better cpu, more memory and a bigger screen.Don't waste your money on a stupid trend.These crappy low powered overpriced "NetBooks" are exactly why Sony said: 'the whole netbook market was “a race to the bottom.”'


    You're completely missing the point of a netbook. The point of netbooks is to be small and portable. With that logic, why would anyone choose a notebook over a portable desktop, or a portable desktop over a full-fledged atx machine? They all serve their own purpose for users with different needs.

    That said, Sony is completely missing their point. As mentioned in the article, they had a "netbook" out(I saw it advertised as one in stores) for ~$900 that ran windows vista on an intel atom platform. The screen was better than other netbooks i've seen, but the performance was so underwhelming that it rendered the machine nearly unusable for my tastes.

    Anyway, this new netbook looks like a decent attempt in my eyes, although the price point seems a little high. The resolution of the screen is better than most bargain-level laptops, however, so if someone needs a portable laptop for basic needs but feels limited by the screen real estate offered by current netbooks, I could see this netbook being a model to consider.
  • -1 Hide
    P_haze420 , July 7, 2009 6:32 PM
    Sony is been going downhill since PS3 came out and will continue to do so.
  • 0 Hide
    doc70 , July 7, 2009 7:08 PM
    Sony has been dead for me since the DRM stuff; they have half-decent hardware, but that's not enough. As for the netbook in question, they can call it whatever they're comfortable with, it's still underpowered and pricey. I would not pay more than 150 USD for what tends to become a MID...
  • -1 Hide
    fulle , July 7, 2009 7:31 PM
    If someone has 900 bucks to blow on a complete piece of crap like this, they should have an extra 300 dollars or so to put into a LEGITIMATE ultra-portable laptop like a Samsung X460. By the time a netbook is improved enough to resemble a useful machine, it gets too close to the price range, size, and battery life of a 14" lightweight, only with 1/3rd the performance.

    Personally, I use netbooks as another indicator someone's a complete moron. Kinda like watching for Kottonmouth King stickers on someone's car, or straight guys with "Toss the salad" shirts. If people understood what a netbook was, they wouldn't buy one.
  • 0 Hide
    stradric , July 7, 2009 7:38 PM
    p_haze420Sony is been going downhill since PS3 came out and will continue to do so.

    I'm not sure what you mean by that. The PS3 is a fine machine. It may not be selling as well as they'd hoped, but the freakin PS2 is still selling like a champ. Combine that with the PSP, the rip-off PSP Go and the upcoming PSP2, I'd say they're doing quite well. Plus they won the whole stupid HD format war.

    The PS3 game lineup is definitely improving as well. And you can't deny that the PS3 is a well-built machine.

    So, I don't know what you mean. And with all that being said, I don't own a PS3, a PS2 or a PSP. I'm a big time 360 fan. Xbox Live, Halo, Gears of War, Fable and Mass Effect are what make the 360 the superior system IMHO. But you can't deny that the 360 is a poorly-built machine. 4/5 of my friends, plus myself have had RRoD on their 360s -- some multiple times. So, in the end, the poor build quality of the 360 may be Microsoft's undoing and Sony's opportunity to eventually claim the majority of the market share. It remains to be seen.
  • 0 Hide
    laweinhander , July 7, 2009 8:23 PM
    False
    if all you do on your computer is type of word documents and surf the internet why pay $1,000+ dollars for an ultra portable, when you could get a netbook for $300+ dollars with a better battery life.
  • 0 Hide
    zads , July 7, 2009 9:44 PM
    its got great specs for a netbook, remember these are built for mobilty..
    but seriously, i bought a hp netbook... and the atom really needs a mobile dual core or something with more power. 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours of battery life is great.. but damn, i couldn't stand using my netbook for more than 30 minutes, its so weak. it can barely handle streaming semi-hd video from the internet or playing flash games, what the hell am i gonna do for 8 hours?? browse msn and bing.com????.
  • 0 Hide
    zads , July 7, 2009 9:45 PM
    oh yeah i sold it on craigslist 2 days after i received it.
  • 1 Hide
    Master Exon , July 7, 2009 9:48 PM
    stradricI'm not sure what you mean by that. The PS3 is a fine machine. It may not be selling as well as they'd hoped, but the freakin PS2 is still selling like a champ.


    PS3 is a great machine, it's just not as competitive and cut throat (or as shitty) as the PS2.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 8, 2009 12:38 AM
    I think there are now reasons to doubt the netbook market's potential, http://bit.ly/1JuOlC.
  • 0 Hide
    Wayoffbase , July 8, 2009 1:15 AM
    fulleIf someone has 900 bucks to blow on a complete piece of crap like this, they should have an extra 300 dollars or so to put into a LEGITIMATE ultra-portable laptop like a Samsung X460. By the time a netbook is improved enough to resemble a useful machine, it gets too close to the price range, size, and battery life of a 14" lightweight, only with 1/3rd the performance.Personally, I use netbooks as another indicator someone's a complete moron. Kinda like watching for Kottonmouth King stickers on someone's car, or straight guys with "Toss the salad" shirts. If people understood what a netbook was, they wouldn't buy one.

    I'm hoping this holiday season 90% of netbooks produced rot on the shelves (the other 10% are sold with linux, since it does what a netbook needs to do), and $500 laptops and desktop PC's completely sell out because people are getting informed and buying what they actually need. But that is putting too much faith in human intellegence, instead we'll have a wave of unsatisfied consumers with win7 netbooks they never unplug from the wall. That dissatisfaction will lead to war, famine, pestilence, and death on a global scale. Bit of a streach? I don't think so.. :p 
  • 0 Hide
    michaelahess , July 8, 2009 1:41 AM
    I hate, nay, despise Sony, always have. Overpriced junk in MOST cases. Yet I have two PS3's because they are awesome media servers with excellent DNLA support. I also have a Dell Mini 9 decked out with GPS, Touch Screen, 32GB SSD, 16GB Micro SD (internal), 32GB SD (slot), BT, and Webcam. It's amazingly flexible and usable. Plus it runs Ubuntu 9.04, OS X, and Win 7 all perfectly! I can do all my navigation, office, news, etc work on it and it's far nicer carrying it around than my full size R60. There is a place for them. When I've gotta do designs in Visio I either jack in one of my 22" monitors or I fire up the Lenovo, other than that I can do everything on my Mini and with very little loss in speed.
  • 1 Hide
    cabose369 , July 8, 2009 4:45 AM
    still overpriced.... still follows the trend of Sony products.
  • 0 Hide
    eccentric909 , July 8, 2009 2:14 PM
    I like the screen resolution, 1366x768 is not common on a netbook. Besides that, no thanks. I like netbooks because I'm not looking for a portable gaming machine or video editor. I'm looking for something with an incredible battery life to do some simple web surfing, maybe write a document and at the very most watch some videos (not really caring if it's in HD).

    That being said, I'd still rather wait for IONs to be in the price range of the mainstream netbooks, therefore I do have the extra power if I need it. Without having to lug around a laptop of which the battery maybe lasts for the 1/3-1/2 of what your average netbook's battery. Sure, I can spend upwards of $1500 or so to get a nice laptop which has a nice battery and nice specs. But, I'm not going to buy one of the cheapo laptops in the $400-600 range which won't be that huge of a performance gain and 1/4 the battery life.

    YMMV and that is why there is such a large range of netbooks, laptops and desktops. Choice is awesome. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    scook9 , July 8, 2009 3:13 PM
    I could have bought a netbook, but instead put a core 2 quad extreme chip into my REAL notebook (both cost $450). Ya the battery is about an hour, but if I need a MID, that is what my smart phone is for (BB storm). When you try to have everything in one device, all the desired services suck.
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