Review: Sony YB Vaio

By Branko Miletic

  • Ultraportable
  • Variety of colours
  • Win 7 Home Premium installed

Sony is to electronics what Gelato is to ice-cream- more flavours than you can poke a stick at and at the same time, even more uses.

Sony’s YB Vaio notepad is one of many little portable 1.6GHz laptops from the Japanese electronics giant that have been specifically designed to add pleasure to your mobile computing experience.

Coming in just about as many colours as there are gelato flavours, this latest piece of mobile computing is designed for the road warrior in all of us. The version I tested was silver in hue, but hey, if you want lime or fire-engine red, Sony can help you there too, and I’ve been told there is even a Lady Gaga-esque hot sickly pink if you really want to stand out from the crowd.

Regardless, with its AMD-35O chipset, 11.6 inch screen, 3 USB ports, Ethernet, SD card reader and a heap of other ports, means that this laptop will allow you to do whatever and wherever you want it to do.

Set up, or should I say boot up, was much easier than most laptops I have played with recently – no need for answering any questions, filling out forms or setting up weird and wonderful AV accounts –  the YB’s Windows 7 Home Premium just worked, which is exactly what you want any new laptop to do.

After installing my Gmail account, I was ready to rock and roll with a laptop that weighs a fraction under 1.5kg and is slightly larger than an A4 magazine in terms of length and breadth – in other words, designed for travelling.

This category is sometimes called ‘ultraportable’, which I assume means there are other laptops out there that may only be semi-portable, which is a bit like being half pregnant, however, 1.5kg is not hard to carry around and as such, the YB will not cause you any neck aches.

This ‘ultraportable’ designation also exists to distinguish these machines from netbooks, which the YB certainly is not, but which also means you won’t be seeing any 10-hour battery results from the YB or its ilk.

In fact, the test I use for battery life is the ‘YouTube-playing-for-as long-as-it-can’ test –basically I run YouTube videos on the machine until it dies. In this case, I managed to get a respectable 3.5 hours out of the Sony YB, which is nothing to write home about but not all that bad either.

Moreover, the Sony YB comes standard with 2Gb of RAM and 320Gb HDD – enough memory and space to keep most domestic users happy, and on point, the YB, with its 2.0 USB ports, allows you to connect any size HDD that you want to the machine. This means if you want to go to Outer Mongolia and take your thousands of songs and pictures on your portable 500 Gb drive, there should be no problems.

The screen allows a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, which means you can watch HD movies on the unit – as long you like watching your HD flicks on a small screen, which I must confess, I don’t.

All the Windows 7 functions work fairly smoothly on the YB, although I must say that when opening up multiple WORD documents, playing YouTube and checking email, you do notice a slowdown in the YB’s speed. Not to worry as you can always double the RAM, although why this was not done by Sony in the first place eludes me. The price of DDR2 RAM is about $50 for 2Gb, so cranking the YB up to 4Gb would not have hurt anyone’s bottom line, least of all Sony’s and would have resulted in much better outcomes when it comes to multitasking.

One feature that I found interesting was the in-built webcam, which I set up with three clicks and I was able to email pictures or videos of myself in real time. For users of Skype, this was one of the better webcams I have used in a laptop of this size and power. Just remember though, more RAM and perhaps even a slighter better chipset would have helped here too.

Pros: fast, easy to use, light and sleek.
Cons: Needs a bit more grunt and slightly longer battery life.

3.5 Shacks out of 5