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No-one can argue about the VAIO X Series' design credentials. At 12.2mm, it's precisely as thick as an iPhone, and its matte-black finish is reminiscent of a sheet of graphite (the only design oddity is its brown bottom). Even the screen drew admiring gasps: it's wafer-thin, measuring 4.4mm when we clamped our calipers around it.

The main chassis is similarly slight. It's so skinny the D-SUB port on the right-hand side looks oversized. There isn't even room for a conventional network port, but rather than force people to lug around an adapter, Sony has cleverly created a hinged port: when you want to use it, the idea is to raise two tiny feet and this gives the hinge room to expand enough for you to slot in your cable.

Like other Sony notebooks, the keyboard on the VAIO X is island style, but at 88 percent of full size, it��s a bit smaller than most netbooks with 10- to 12-inch screens. Measuring 9.5 x 3.5 inches, the keyboard is about half an inch smaller in both directions than the Toshiba mini NB205, even though the VAIO X has a larger keyboard deck. This is because there��s about half an inch of space on either side of the keyboard.

Also notable is the Vaio's touchpad, which supports multi-touch input. This allows gestures such as pinching together two fingers to zoom in, for example. A pair of flip-out feet underneath the chassis lifts it to angle the keyboard when on a desk, and we found the Vaio X Series comfortable to use when sitting on your lap as well, as the screen can be pushed quite far back to a suitable angle.

So while it was a 'wow' factor machine, Sony decided to try again with a cheaper Atom netbook with the VAIO W that stuck to the regular form factor that you'll find in most netbooks but with the VAIO look and feel. The W wasn't too bad of an effort, and was priced at a more affordable range comparable to other netbooks. Sure, it performed pretty much similar to other netbooks too, but well, it's a Sony product you're talking about.

Now, fast forward to just a few months later, and Sony has unveiled its latest netbook, the VAIO X. This time, the X looks set to razzle and dazzle with its super slim form factor, lightweight design and really expensive price. Of course, the magnesium alloy chassis and carbon fiber frame of the notebook doesn't come cheap by any standards, but it does give it a feel that's just perfect for the business users that this netbook is targeted at. How perfect you ask? We'll find out more over the next few pages but let's start with our usual exterior pictures and table of specifications first.

HDD scores in our PCMark 05 tests were definitely way up there compared against your usual 5400 RPM drives and handily beat the ASUS netbooks, so we've no complains there. Overall, it does show that the Intel Atom Z550 processor does handle better compared to the N280, though its main advantage is still the power savings associated with its lower power draw and TDP requirement despite having a higher clock speed.

There are two USB ports on the left-hand side of the chassis, plus a headphone socket, while slots for Memory Stick media and SD cards occupy the front. And that's your lot. The rest of the design carries on this minimalist feel. Aside from a wireless switch, the only buttons to press are the two for the simple touchpad and the keyboard itself.

We were sceptical of Sony's claimed eight-hour battery life for the Vaio X Series, especially after seeing the thinness of the battery pack in the base of the unit. Nevertheless, the unit lasted for five hours and 18 minutes in our tests using the Battery Eater Pro benchmark, which is an impressive score for such a thin and light laptop. We tested the Vaio in its configuration as delivered, except that the screen and suspend-to-disk timeouts were disabled to prevent the system turning off the backlight or going to sleep while the battery life test was running. Users may experience a shorter battery life than this in use, depending on how heavily they use the wireless communications, but should still be able to get several hours of use from the Vaio before a recharge is needed.

By isaact5129
Thursday, 15 Nov 2012

 
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