Sony Vaio Y Series Review: Proving Fusion's Potential
Heat and Connectivity, Battery Life and Portability
Heat and Connectivity
Temperatures inside the Sony Vaio Y Series were what you’d expect; generally around 40 degrees Celsius at idle, but jumping up to the mid-50s at load. These readings are completely average, and translated to external surfaces that felt warm but never hot. While many laptops have noticeable hot-spots that become significantly warmer than any other part of the device, I didn’t notice this with the Sony Vaio Y. Stress-testing caused a uniform warming of the laptop’s bottom as well as the keyboard and palmrest areas.
The cooling of the Sony Vaio Y Series is courtesy of a fan that very much wants you to know that it’s there and working. The tone of the system fan varies from a light whirr (when the system is at idle) to a full-blown rush (when the system is under stress). Although the fan noise is thankfully smooth and gentle, its volume is distracting, particularly in a system with such weak speakers. You’ll have no problem hearing the Sony Vaio Y Series from across your office or bedroom if there aren’t any other sources of ambient noise.
Connectivity is very netbook. On the left side you’ll find HDMI and VGA out as well as one USB 2.0 port. On the right side you’ll find two more USB 2.0 ports as well as an Ethernet jack and individual microphone and headphone jacks. Bluetooth is also standard. Overall, these connectivity options are as standard as one could imagine for a netbook, but since the Sony Vaio Y has a considerably higher price than many competitors, I was expecting more.
Battery Life and Portability
The display size of the Sony Vaio Y Series instantly implies that this is a laptop meant to be used on the go, but as chunkier competitors like the Dell Inspiron M101z prove, a small display doesn’t always lead to a svelte frame.
Fortunately, the Sony Vaio Y isn’t packing unnecessary pounds or bulk. While the laptop is up to 1.25 inches thick (at the laptop’s rear) most of the chassis is under an inch thick and, due to some significant rounding, feels even thinner than it is. The approximately 3.25 pound weight of the Y is towards the heavier end of this category, but it’s still light enough to pass what I call the “where’s my laptop?” test. It’s difficult to tell if this laptop is in my backpack simply by picking it up and judging the bag’s weight.
The AMD E-350 processor in the Sony Vaio Y is designed with power efficiency in mind, and AMD’s early hype said the Fusion line should be on par with Atom when it comes to squeezing out every last drop of battery life. It was a bit disappointing, then, to see the Y return just shy of two and half hours of battery life in the Battery Eater Standard benchmark and just over five hours in the Battery Eater Reader’s Test benchmark. The older AMD ultraportables based on the Nile platform, such as the Toshiba Satellite T235D and the Dell Inspiron M101z, lasted longer.
AMD’s Fusion processor may not be the problem, however. Sony ships the Y with a bewilderingly small 3500mAh/38Wh battery. This is the smallest battery I ever recall seeing in a laptop that we’ve reviewed. Given what the E-350 has to work with, the battery life results are actually quite reasonable. This is a major flaw, and while it might be excusable if the laptop were priced at $350, the Y is a supposedly premium laptop with a price tag to match. Sony has larger batteries available for sale as accessories, but even the entirely average 5000mAh model is an extra $200. That’s just absurd.