IFA 2009: Sony Vaio X in a hands on test

Fits in an envelope:

In the range of the IFA Berlin, Sony also presents its first pre-sample of its new ultra flat 11.1 inch mobile computer: The Sony Vaio X. Although the exact configuration of the Sony Vaio X is still top secret, a few details about the good-looking notebook have been released from Sony at the exhibition. reports with the first details.

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Ultra light carbon case (<700 grams), 11.1 inch display, 14 millimeters slim, UMTS integrated. Very probable: Sony will launch two models with different lid covers and two different configurations at a price between 1500 and 2000 Euros. There will allegedly be a 6 cell battery for a computing time of 5 hours away from the mains and a double layer battery with 18(!) cells for a whole 20 hours of battery life. We've taken the Sony Vaio X in our hands and looked at the extra light notebook closer in the hall 4.2.

Design is, of course, Sony's center of attention. And this has, in the case of the Sony Vaio X, turned out to be chic and really ultra flat. The Sony Vaio X is very impressive no matter how you look at it. The LCD lid is very flat, estimated at about 5 to 6 millimeters, and we discovered among the displayed Sony Vaio X two different(!) variants. There is a model with a smooth lid finishing and another with a brushed metal look. The keyboards differed, too: One with a German keyboard layout and the other with a keyboard including Spanish special characters

The Vaio X is seductively attractive!
Sony Vaio X: Ultra flat, light, stylish and expensive.

The Sony Vaio X doesn't only look good! There is top mobile technology hidden beneath the attractive and extremely light cover.

Despite the low height of the lid, the cover proved to be very stable. Stability to the effect that the flat lid let itself be twisted, the display, however, remained unimpressed by that. We couldn't find any distortions on the activated display during the pressure test on the LCD cover. We would estimate the resolution of the bright LCD to 1366x768 pixels, whereas we orientated ourselves on the icons and the login box of Windows -7-.

The Sony Vaio X's outer shell has turned out to be amazingly flat. The Sony Vaio X is supposedly to have a height of merely 14 millimeter - record-breaking! The Sony Vaio X is therewith not higher than the integrated VGA port. The construction height might even turn out lower with HDMI.

Among the Sony Vaio X's pre-samples, we discovered at least 2 different models.
Typically Sony: Even the pre-series models look elegant and highly qualitative.

Among the Sony Vaio X's pre-samples, we discovered at least 2 different models. But typically Sony: Even the pre-series models look elegant and highly qualitative.

The exhibited pre-samples presented following ports as interfaces to the world: On the front is placed one SD and a memory slot. On the left are the power socket, a Kensington lock, 2 USB 2.0 ports and audio-out for headphones. On the right we found the VGA-out and a LAN port - that's all. By the way, the case of the Sony Vaio X is so flat that the LAN socket could only be integrated as a folding mechanism. The Sony Vaio X allegedly has both WLAN and Bluetooth as wireless standards and "Vaio Everywair" (HSDPA) for unlimited 3G connectivity onboard.

The power socket, a Kensington lock, 2x USB 2.0 ports and an audio-out for headphones are on the left.
On the front there is an SD and memory stick slot.
The VGA-out and a LAN port is placed on the right.

A "Chiclet" keyboard (single-keyed) with 84 keys has been used as the input device in the Sony Vaio X. The keys have an agreeably short stroke length and typing on the Sony Vaio X was surprisingly comfortable. The touchpad was adequately sized for the device's dimensions and worked precisely in the pre-sample. Both touchpad keys could be use with quite a short stroke length. Conspicuous: The lettering of the keyboard hot keys were kept in an effectual blue and orange and could be read accordingly easy.

Elegant but robust lid.
The single-keyed (Chiclet) keyboard has a short stroke length and a comfortable feel.

A matt but bright 11.1 inch display is used in the Sony Vaio X. The LCD with energy saving LED backlight has 1366x768 pixels and should, in consideration of the maximum luminosity, be in the >200 cd/m2 area (subjectively), as the flat screen of out pre-sample was seemingly bright. The brilliance and color representation for a display with a matt surface coating delighted us very much. The possible viewing angles, in which we could recognize and read something on the Sony Vaio X's LCD was also astonishingly "large".

But, let's use our imagination for a second and put a few puzzle pieces together. Either Intel's Atom Z or one of the designated successors such as Pine Trail would fit into a such ultra flat case. Sony might just have reached into the shelves of Intel's (C)ULV chips. These are for instance already finding deployment in Acer's Timeline models and in the X-Slim series from MSI. In any case, the Vaios stayed comparatively cool, although the notebooks are in use the whole day. The pre-sample examined by us is still, however, based on the current Intel Atom range and had 2 GByte RAM onboard. Sony would probably then design the main memory extension of the series similarly, including a small Agio for the top model.

Sony absolutely refused to make a statement about the mass memory. But, we were allowed to execute "slam dunks" (well, almost anyway) with the Sony Vaio X displayed on the table, which a "normal" hard disk probably won't ever experience in the run of its "life". Additionally, there wasn't any typical hard disk running noise whatsoever audible in our pre-sample. In consideration of the dimensions, even a 1.8 inch HDD would (almost) be too thick. We assume that Sony will more likely offer SSDs in 128 and 256 GByte capacities for the Vaio X.

Sony Vaio X
Sony Vaio X

Sony's Vaio X pre-sample presents itself as a paragon in view of emissions. The ultra flat notebook works absolutely silent. No fan whirring and no clattering of hard disk heads disturb the silence at the exhibition stand ;). In view of temperature development, we could even only establish that the Sony Vaio X heats up minimally, despite permanent use. The device's upper side, including the palm rests, as well as the bottom side of the notebook fluke gets "lukewarm" at most.

Sony also wants to set standards as to the battery life. The Sony Vaio X will have a 6 cell battery included, which is supposed to provide for an operating time of about 5 hours on the go. With a battery, which carries its 18 cells (!) in two layers above one another, Sony even wants to achieve a whole 20 hours of battery life (!). As a Sony employee assured us, the Sony Vaio X will not reach the thickness of a currently common netbook - even with the double layer battery.

Verdict of the Hands-On short review:

Sony's Vaio X is certainly one of the most interesting and enthralling netbooks or subnotebooks, which will make it into retail this year. With a construction height of only 14 millimeters, the Sony Vaio X is a lot flatter than the Apple MacBook Air. With prices ranging from 1500 to 2000 Euros, the Sony Vaio X will, however, also be considerably more expensive than currently available netbooks.

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Ronald Tiefenthäler, 2009-09- 7 (Update: 2012-05-26)