Sony Vaio X113
Ultraportable notebookScott Bartley | Tuesday, February 23 2010
The ding dong battle for “lightest and thinnest” notebook continues this month with Sony laying claim to the title following the release of the new X series Vaio – it’s just 655 grams.
In fact, it’s so light we actually forgot it was in a backpack during our testing, the poor wee thing ended up being kicked around for an entire weekend before we remembered where it was. As if in testament to it’s durability it came through the ordeal unscathed and continued on to be further battered by the rest of PC World’s testing procedures. But first, let’s see what this tiny little machine is packing.
Inside we find one of the first machines to make use of Intel’s brand new Atom Z540 chipset featuring a beefed up version of the venerable Atom processor found in nearly every netbook on the planet. This new and improved chipset sports faster CPUs and even better power efficiency. The chipset in our test unit runs at 2GHz and is loaded with 2GB of RAM – a considerable step up from netbook style Atoms that usually run at 1.2GHz and are maxed out with 1GB of RAM. Straight away performance was a cut above that offered by your average netbook – which is a good thing since this notebook isn’t competing against netbooks, it’s a fully-fledged ultraportable notebook. It has the price tag to prove it, too.
So why would you spend $2,399 on this 11.1-inch model when there are perfectly good netbooks floating around for less than half the price? Well, first of all if you crave portability more than anything you’ll not find a lighter, thinner notebook anywhere. Even netbooks can’t compete with this super-lightweight machine, it really does weigh next to nothing and makes no discernable impact in your bag.
Second, it performs so much better than a netbook. Our World Bench 6 testing suite scored the Vaio at 62 points, which is faster than many other proper notebooks we’ve tested and twice as fast as virtually every netbook on the market.
Last of all, there’s the design aspect. Netbooks are manufactured to a price point, whereas this machine has been engineered with as much attention paid to aesthetics and advanced design as netbook designers pay to finding the cheapest material.
Of course for a machine this size (278 x 13.9 x 185mm) some sacrifices have to be made. The new Atom chipset allows for better performance to be stuffed into the tiny shell, but things such as optical drives, PC card slots, Firewire and HDMI ports have had to fall by the wayside. Most of this is no big deal to those seeking portability and can, mostly, be overcome through the use of USB-based peripherals. Wireless networking, Ethernet and Bluetooth are all present, as is a memory card reader and two USB ports. There’s even a VGA-out port for hooking into an external monitor. A 120GB solid state hard drive provides plenty of onboard storage.
Battery life, as expected, is superb. Sony will quote crazy figures like 16 hours using an optional battery pack peripheral but most users will stick with the bundled battery option, which should see around 3 to 3.5 hours life under normal use. Our review machine came with a beefier unit that lasted a whopping 296 minutes under our MobileMark2007 productivity test, which simulates regular use until the battery runs flat. We usually like to perform a DVD playback test for our notebook reviews but, since there’s no optical drive here, we were unable to do that in this case. Five hours continuous use is a great effort in our books.
If it’s mobility you need, then this is the machine for you, with prices starting around $2,399 it’s not too expensive and it certainly kicks run-of-the-mill netbooks to the kerb when it comes to pure grunt.
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