WHAT: Sony VAIO P Series

PRICE: Starts: $849

FUN FACT: Sign of the times? Sony no longer sells stand alone desktop computers.

WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING: When the Sony VAIO P series first came out, its design wowed many, making some gadget groups and magazines to throw it on their best of lists without ever using it. And then they got their hands on it. What they found, to quote ZDnet.com, was a "sleek two-seater with the engine of an econobox." The main bottleneck wasn't the hardware, it was the software. Running Windows Vista on such a low-powered machine was crippling: there was a delay for most actions, the screen took a while to redraw itself. But that's all in the past now that Vista has gone the way of the Shop Boyz and Windows 7 has taken its place. Now, with slightly upgraded hardware, the same industry leading design and an operating system that is more scalable and therefore able to run on slower systems, the Sony VAIO P series is actually a contender in the netbook/sub-notebook category. Read on to find out more...

DESIGN: The VAIO P is nothing if not well designed. It's painfully beautiful—one of those gadgets that you'd have a hard time putting away because you would want to constantly stare at it, and have other people stare at it. With a footprint less that 10 inches long, the VAIO P is one of the smallest and lightest (1.4 lbs) laptops on the market. With that you get an eight inch LED screen that nicely runs a resolution of 1600 x 768, but that we still wish was a little bigger. We don't see why it needs all the framing—can't that be made into screen real estate? The keyboard looks small but is actually very usable. After a couple minutes of use, we found ourselves touch typing away. You can have it in five colors: black, red, white, gold and pink, in case you want to buy your lady one.


FEATURES: The VAIO P is well equipped with with two USB 2.0 ports, a display port so you can connect it to a monitor, an SD memory card slot and, of course, a Sony Memory Stick slot. It's wired for WiFi (and a wired LAN through the display port), Bluetooth and Verizon 3G if you want Internet everywhere. If you want to snap some pics or vid conference there's a built in web cam. All models come with 2 GB of memory and can go up to 128 GB of solid state memory, which for a device like this we recommend. Solid state hard drives are faster and save power.


PERFORMANCE: People blasted the earlier P series for having sluggish performance. To amend all that, Sony upgraded two very important bits: the processor and the operating system. The original P's ran on an Intel 1.33GHz Atom, a chip that wasn't designed for any heavy lifting. In the new gen, Sony has outfitted the P series with a 1.83 GHz Intel Atom processor. The difference is noticeable as soon as you fire it up. But that's not all thanks to the processor. Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows 7 takes the place of the lumbering Vista, making for a much speedier and enjoyable experience. Applications open faster, your mouse cursor actually keeps pace with your movements. Keep in mind that when we say the performance is good, it's all relative. You can't—and shouldn't—use the P series for graphical intensive projects like Photoshop. It's just not made for that. Web browsing, blogging and word processing is its forte.