The standard model weighs a paltry 638g
making it feel almost like an empty shell when you pick it up. This figure is
with a three-cell battery and while it won't be a massive burden, the six-cell
version will add on a few extra grams, some of which can be shaved off by going
for the version with the SSD drive.
Similarly, we weren't able to weigh the power adaptor, but it is small and light, so it won't tack on too much extra weight to the total.
Unlike Sony's recently released TT-series laptops which are encased in carbon fibre, the P-Series is made from plastic and because it's so thin we would be worried that it might be dangerously flimsy. None of the demo units we saw had any signs of damage, but we wouldn't suggest flinging this about too much.
Until someone perfects a flexible display that can be rolled up the device is about as small as it can be while still being functional.
The eight inch 16:9 widescreen is amazingly clear and runs at a resolution of 1600x768, which although an impressive technical feat does mean many users will end up squinting at the screen. There is a zoom function to help combat this or users can just turn down the resolution a notch or two, and given that most sites and applications are happy at lower resolutions so this shouldn't have a negative impact on usability.
In keeping the P-Series as small as possible Sony has had to ditch the trackpad, leaving just a nub nestled in the middle of the keyboard for cursor control. Personally I had no problems getting used to using the little joystick type control, but many customers may want to invest in a small external mouse to keep with them.
The brushed aluminium keyboard is a good size and the isolated keys are a nice touch. I found it easy to type on, even at speed except occasionally we kept brushing the mouse nub which it would treat as a mouse click (an option that can be disabled) and move the cursor to wherever the mouse pointer was located at the time.
The P-series sports two USB ports, one on each side and a combination HDMI/port extender. A small extender is provided adding video and wired Ethernet ports is included in the box.
Connectivity can be done via Bluetooth, draft-n Wi-Fi and there is a SIM-free 3G HSDPA modem and GPS built-in as well. Because there is not enough space above the screen, the webcam is situated off to the right, but it isn't angled at all meaning you're left tilting your head at odd angles if you want your face in the centre of the display when on a video conference.
It also features a hardware Wi-Fi on/off switch, something I always like to see in a netbook as it makes it very easy to turn the Wi-Fi on and off as needed which can noticeably extend battery life.
Below the keyboard are the left, right and middle mouse buttons, a shortcut button and the CrossMediaBar (XMB) launch button. The XMB allows users to boot straight into a menu system that PS3 and PSP owners will be familiar with and gives easy access to media such as photos, video and music as well as a web browser, Skype, Pidgin for instant messaging.
Sony mentioned that booting into the XMB took around 25 seconds
and booting into
It runs Windows Vista Premium or Business edition, which runs happily, but given our first impressions of the upcoming Windows 7, we would probably recommend upgrading to that as soon as possible.
Ultimately, the price tag is going make the P-Series an exclusive device and for a lot less money you can get something not much heavier or slower, but for those with the money to spare who need a fully functional notebook that can slip into a handbag or a large coat pocket this could be a winner, and we can guarantee if you pull this out at a meeting it will turn some heads.
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