Sony's new Vaio P netbook made its debut here at CES. It's a diminutive 1.4-pound miniturized laptop with an 8-inch 1600-by-768 resolution screen. I was among the lucky few to get my hands on a pre-production evaluation unit from Sony. In the short time that I've used it so far, here's what I like and dislike about the P.
The Vaio P scores points on its insanely small size. It's really tiny. In fact, its depth is only a hair longer than my iPhone 3g (see the comparison in the photo). It may be a little too small for some, but if you're looking for the ultimate in tiny notebooks, the Vaio P is up your alley.
The 8-inch screen packs in an extremely high resolution of 1600-by-768 pixels. Text and interface widgets are remarkably crisp on-screen, but quite small. Also, mousing onscreen with the built-in trackpoint (it has no trackpad) can be a little cumbersome; I find myself having to lean in a little in order to mouse around the the screen. I haven't had it long enough to get a good read on possible eye strain problems, but if you struggle to see small text on typical notebook PCs as it is, you'd probably be better off looking at more conventional netbooks.
I find the keyboard is a bit small and it takes some getting used to, but the keyboard is certainly usable. I find that the slight differences in layout between the Vaio P's keyboard and my more typical notebook keyboard throws me off more than the keyboard's size.
Perhaps the best aspects of the Vaio P are its integrated Verizon EVDO cellular broadband connection and its capability to fetch GPS data without an Internet connection. I haven't yet gotten a chance to play with the GPS. I find that of the browsing I've done so far here in Las Vegas, the Vaio P's EVDO connection isn't quite as fast as a cable connection, but it's still pretty decent.
As Sony has yet to make an official announcement of pricing, it's hard to make a final call on the Vaio P just yet. Stay tuned for our full scored review of the Vaio P, and our continuing coverage from CES.