It isn't unlikely for a string of superlatives to rush across your mind when you first set eyes on the Sony VAIO X. Sleek, slim, and sexy, are some of the first ones that sprout in my mind. Ever since it first surfaced in Berlin, we've eagerly awaited a chance to have a go at the VAIO X. And here we have it, and boy is it a beauty!
We were taken aback by the MacBook Air's slimness when it stopped by our Lab, but Sony has stolen Apple's thunder with the VAIO X (VPCX117LG/B) and driven the definition of "ultra slim" to new heights (Dell might have something to say about it, though). The VAIO X is razor-slim, a mere 0.55-inch thick (with its screen closed) and weighs only 0.7-kg! It may not be the world's thinnest laptop, but the VAIO X is definitely the lightest laptop around—a good 500g lighter than any mainstream netbook. Sony managed to squeeze in on the VAIO X's dimensions with the help of a light magnesium alloy chassis and a carbon fiber screen lid—the same stuff used in aircraft parts. As a result, not only is the Sony VAIO X incredibly light but it is also extremely well built. It doesn't feel cheap in any way, and overflows with elegance in all directions. In terms of product design, the VAIO X is right up there with the best in the business.
The VAIO X has a 11.1-inch LED-backlit non-glossy screen. The screen is bright, evenly lit, and has acceptable viewing angles—encased in a carbon fiber shell, it even flexes a bit. We had no trouble reading text or watching movies on it, whether indoors or outdoors. The keyboard is typical of Sony: isolated, chiclet-styled keys, similar to the one found on the VAIO W. The keyboard is easier to type on compared to the Toshiba NB200 (which sports similar keys) and better laid out, but make no mistakes: its keys are smaller compared to keyboards found on some 10-inch netbooks, like the HP Mini 110-1018tu and the Asus Eee PC 1008HA. It's only a matter of getting used to the keyboard's tiny keys, but chunky fingers beware! We recommend spending some typing on the VAIO X to see if it agrees with your fingers.
We appreciate its sizable palmrest—large enough to park your palm while typing—but find its touchpad a bit of a mixed bag. It's fast, responsive, and has multi-gesture support (pinch, flip, etc.), but it's a tad too small for comfort. It is inhibiting while trying to move the mouse from one edge of the screen to the other. The VAIO X would've been better off with a slightly larger touchpad—not too hard to accommodate with its large palmrest, we feel. The twin mouse buttons are fine, though.
In terms of internal hardware, the VAIO X is nothing but a high-profile netbook. It runs on an Intel Atom Z550 2-GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Its onboard Intel GMA 500 graphics adapter is similar to most Atom-based netbooks found in the market these days. It has Bluetooth support, and also bundles in both Gigabit Ethernet and Draft-N Wi-Fi—something only the MSI Wind12 U210 manages in the cost-conscious netbook space. It also comes with two USB ports, VGA-out, and a single headphone jack. A Memory Stick Pro and SD Card reader slot sit right under the touchpad. There's a 1.3MP webcam recessed on the top screen bezel. Overall, the Sony VAIO X is extremely minimalistic on the exterior. Obviously, it doesn't come with an optical drive.
The Sony VAIO X comes with 32-bit Windows 7 Professional operating system. WorldBench 6 raked up a score of 37—in line with figures we're used to seeing on netbooks. We found the 2GB of RAM and 128GB solid-state drive getting primarily bottlenecked by the Atom processor deployed on the VAIO X—despite its higher clock speed. What's more, the VAIO X's Intel GMA 500 graphics adapter is incapable of playing smooth, stutter-free 720p high-def video, however standard movies play just fine. Also, I could multitask with up to three programs—browsing the Web, listening to music, and working on spreadsheets—without a hitch. Onboard speakers are good, but not great. Battery life from the 4-cell battery, on the other hand, is pretty impressive—we got 3 hours in BatteryEater's benchmark at high-performance preset. Easily expect close to 6 hours from a single charge on a conservative battery plan.
At Rs. 84,900, the Sony VAIO X is one seriously high-profile netbook. Right from its sexy form factor, the VAIO X exudes the air and elegance of a premium, lifestyle product. It doesn't perform as well as some other high-end ultraportable laptops, but keep in mind this is no normal ultraportable. However hard we try, we can't run away from the fact that the VAIO X is a rather expensive netbook in an astonishingly elegant shell. Highly recommended to jet-setters looking for a super-slim laptop or anyone who wants to distinguish themselves from the rest of the ultraportable, mini-laptop crowd.