Sony VAIO Mini W-Series netbook review

Sony has finally relented and has added a true netbook to its range. Is the Sony VAIO Mini W-Series VPCW11S1E/W now the one to beat?

This is paired very nicely with a resolution of 1,366 x 768, which is more than many laptops at the cheaper end of the scale can fit into bone fide HD territory. Although, at 10.1in, the benefit of HD is debatable. The test video file we used looks very good on the display, thanks to a pleasing black level that gave the image depth and vibrancy.

We're very much fans of the screen. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the keyboard. It's not the worst keyboard we've ever used on a netbook by a long chalk (step up the Apricot Picobook), but from the moment we started using it, we never really got on. It looks good, of course, with the spaced out keys that most associate with Apple Macbooks, even though they were originally introduced by Sony.

There are two main issues. The first is that the keys, while easy to hit in the main, lack travel, and have a rather vague feel. The right shift key seems to have shrunk, but if you've got your fingers in the correct typing position, it's OK. Otherwise you'll miss it. Frequently.

The biggest problem is that the space bar is simply too small. We had to check whether it was pressed or de-pressed every few words typed, which really slowed things down as we had to go back to fix things.

The trackpad at least feels fine, and the buttons have a sturdy feel to them so they should stand up to some abuse.

Connectivity is standard with a VGA port and headphone and microphone socket on the left. On the right you'll find two USB ports and a Fast Ethernet with Gigabit still something of a rarity on netbooks, even at this price it seems.

You'll also find a slot for a Kensington lock should you wish to prevent anyone making off with your Sony badged goods.

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