Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sony VAIO Y (YB)

The team at Sony has completely reinvented the VAIO Y notebook with some help from AMD. The new Sony VAIO Y (technically called the "VAIO YB") is Sony's first laptop to feature the new AMD E-350 processor and graphics. This 11-inch laptop is more expensive than a typical netbook but offers significantly better performance. Take a look at what we have to say about this mighty mini.

Our Sony VAIO Y (YB) features the following specifications:

* AMD E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (dual-core CPU at 1.6 GHz and dual DX-11 SIMDs at 500 MHz)
* 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 HD glossy display with LED backlighting
* Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit)
* 4GB DDR3 memory (1066MHz)
* 500GB, 5400 rpm HDD
* Gigabit Ethernet and Atheros 802.11b/g/n wireless
* Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
* 6-cell Li-ion battery (38Wh)
* Dimensions: 11.42 (L) x 7.99 (W) x 0.99 - 1.25 (H) inches
* Weight: 3.24 pounds
* MSRP: $549.99

Build and Design

The new VAIO Y is a radical departure from last year's 13-inch Sony VAIO Y. I'm a little unsure why Sony doesn't just call this the "VAIO YB" on the official SonyStyle website, but despite the confusion over the model name this looks like another attractive Sony notebook. In terms of the overall size and shape, the VAIO YB has more in common with the VAIO W netbook than last year's VAIO Y. In truth, the new VAIO Y was designed to replace the Atom-based netbooks in Sony's lineup, and thankfully the VAIO YB has more to offer than those low-performance netbooks.

Build quality is on par with most 11-inch laptops we've tested like the HP Pavilion dm1z and the Acer Aspire 1830T. The plastics are thin yet firm; offering a combination of everyday durability and light weight. Although I wouldn't recommend playing a game of frisbee with this laptop, the plastics used in the chassis are probably strong enough to survivie a year or two of constant travel inside a school backpack. The plastic screen lid provides bends under significant pressure but you really have to press hard to create ripples on the screen. The lid also comes in your choice of silver or pink at the time of this writing. The best description I can give for the paint finish is "metallic matte" since it's shiny but doesn't show off fingerprints like a typical glossy notebook.

The bottom of the notebook features a single access panel secured by three screws. Behind that panel you'll find the RAM and hard drive in case you want to make any upgrades. Granted, most consumers who purchase a $550 laptop like this will probably be content with the 4GB of standard memory and the 500GB hard drive. Still, it's nice to know that Sony made it reasonably easy to replace the RAM and hard drive if you want to do that.
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