The Sony VAIO Y is an 11-inch netbook replacing Sony’s 10-incher VAIO M which is odd since last year, the VAIO Y was a 13.3-inch ULV laptop. Well anyway, it’s a netbook now and instead of going with the usual Intel Atom processor, Sony teamed up with AMD and their AMD Fusion APU for the VAIO Y which is a nice change in my opinion. The AMD Fusion E350 is significantly superior than Intel Atom N550 and its integrated graphics when it comes to power and video capability which people are now demanding from their netbooks.
Read on to see how the Sony VAIO Y and its AMD chip performs. If it’s a worthy replacement of their old Atom-powered VAIO M.
The VAIO Y retained its design from the usual 13 or 14-incher VAIOs which is a good thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it I would say. It has a matte lid that doesn’t attract fingerprints at all but be careful when bringing it around with you as it is prone to hairline scratches which is noticeable even on our silver review unit.
It has a slim profile and a friendly weight of 1.46kg which makes it easy to carry anywhere with you. Ladies would feel comfortable lugging this around. What’s noticeable here is the green indicator light on the power button on its hinge that screams VAIO. It also glows orange when it sleep mode. On the other end of its hinge you will find the AC port.
The VAIO Y has the standard ports for a netbook, 2x USB 2.0, earphone and mic jacks on the right side, another USB port, an HDMI and VGA port on the left side and a SD card and Sony MemoryStick reader right in front.
Keyboard layout is good just like any other VAIOs. Well-spaced and the keys have nice tactile feedback and are sized just right. Well except for the right Shift key which I prefer to be a bit bigger. What I like here is the the placement of the Right Fn key which allows me to do one-handed Page Up and Page Dn, Home and End when combined with the arrow keys. What’s missing here is the key to toggle Bluetooth. I could only switch Bluetooth on and off via the VAIO Control Center app or the VAIO Smart network on the system tray.
The palm rest has a nice, crosshatch, textured finish and the touchpad size might be small for bigger guys but just right for the ladies. The left and right-click keys are positioned slightly on the curved edge which makes it more natural to press with your thumb. I didn’t experience any mouse-jumping which I am very particular about when using the touchpad. I also don’t have to press the left and right-click keys hard and at the same time they’re not too sensitive. Just right. Good job Sony!
The 11.6-inch display is just right for a portable notebook but I prefer it to be of matte type to minimize glare. I guess they chose a glossy display so that videos would look sharper. It has a 1366 x 768 resolution which is my ideal res for a netbook, text are not too small and you don’t have to scroll up and down a lot when browsing.
The Sony VAIO Y is powered by an AMD Fusion E-350 APU which is a dual-core 1.6GHz processor with an AMD Radeon HD6310 integrated graphics. People say that it’s way better than Intel’s integrated graphics and I want to test it out myself.
I have tried N550 Atom-powered netbooks out there and while they can view 720p HD videos without a hitch, playing 1080p videos forces them to stutter. With this AMD E-350 powered VAIO Y, 1080p videos played flawlessly whether it’s offline playing or 1080p streaming. Very, very impressive. Sound volume is just okay despite not having any speaker grills anywhere around the keyboard.
If you play a lot of Flash games in Facebook, you would be happy to hear that the VAIO Y can handle even the biggest city in CityVille without stuttering, once the assets are already loaded of course.
Don’t think that this would beat the Core i3’s though when it comes to applications. The VAIO Y handles application just like your Atom N550 netbook. Launching applications takes a while which is normal on a low-powered netbook but it can handle multi-tasking just fine thanks to its 2GB RAM. As I’m writing this review, I’m using Fireworks, Live Writer, Microsoft Word, Google Chrome with 5 tabs open all at the same time and switching apps didn’t pose any problem for this netbook.
I also tried converting a 2.5 minute 1080p 123MB video into iPod format and it took the VAIO Y 11 minutes to finish the conversion which outputted a 35MB MP4 file. That’s slow compared to a Core i3. I guess you don’t use this netbook too much for video encoding. You need a more high-powered processor or a discrete graphics for this task.
Here’s the Windows Experience Index of the Sony VAIO Y.
The lowest subscore is from its AMD E-350 processor at 3.7 which is still better than the Atom N550 which hovers around a 3 to 3.2 subscore. Graphics got a remarkable subscore for a netbook without any discrete GPU and is comparable to notebooks with the NVIDIA ION graphics platform.
The AMD E-350 is a low-power consuming chip although it has a slightly higher wattage rating than the Atom so expect a bit shorter battery life compared to Atom netbooks. Sony claims that the VAIO Y can give you 4 hours of uninterrupted usage. In real life testing? I got 3.5 hours with WiFi always on, medium brightness, watching movies and browsing the net. Your typical use for a netbook actually. What’s also good here is that the unit didn’t get hot nor warm at all. I know some people are still associating AMD with heat but it’s not the case these days.
This short battery life should not be attributed to the AMD processor but on Sony’s battery of choice which only has a 3500mAh rating. I strongly recommend that you upgrade the battery on the VAIO Y to achieve an almost all-day computing.
Here’s the info from BatteryBar by the way which gives the battery a lifetime of just over 3 hours.
Simple yet elegant. Nicely-crafted without any flex at all. I love the keyboard especially the placement of the Right Fn key although the right Shift key could use a bit more size. The 11.6-inch display size is the sweet spot for my choice of netbook. Top-notch design for such a netbook is what I would say with the only drawback really is the low battery rating. You’ll notice that I’m quite high over the AMD Fusion based on my review but it’s just that good! I would choose this over any Intel Atom-powered netbooks out there.
With the price of just under Php30k, the VAIO Y is still within range of an entry VAIO considering that the first Atom-powered 10-inch VAIO also started around that price. What you’ll get here is a very decent-powered portable netbook that won’t frustrate you with a small screen and keyboard and can play 1080p videos beautifully. Invest on upgrading your battery though to get the most out of your Sony VAIO Y. Oh, and choose the Apple Green or the Pink one, Silver is too bland looking.
Sony VAIO Y (VPCYB15AG) Specs:
- AMD Dual-Core E-350 processor (1.6GHz)
- 11.6-inch WXGA (1366 x 768)
- Genuine Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
- 2GB RAM
- AMD Radeon HD 6310 integrated graphics
- 320GB HDD
- Wireless LAN 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
- 6-cell 3500mAh Li-Ion battery (4 hours)
- 1.46 kg
- SRP: Php29,999