First Impressions of Sony X

I’m a little addicted to gadgets, especially Sony laptops which have served as my primary on-the-go machines for the past few years because of their power and portability. When I first saw the Vaio X, Sony’s new ultra-thin and ultra-light laptop, I was taken aback. It looked beautiful, but so was the Envy 133 and the Envy was a complete waste of time and money due to a really bad trackpad and performance. Anyway, I’ve been playing with the X1 for 5-6 hours now, and here are some unordered thoughts:

  1. It is the sexiest and most elegant laptop I’ve held or seen. Feels like it’s from the future.
  2. It feels almost too light, I actually threw it up and caught it, particularly with the normal-sized battery.
  3. I got the champagne color, which was a good choice.
  4. The ethernet port works in a really interesting way.
  5. Speed of browsing, installing, everything feels pretty good with Windows 7, but it’s obvious the graphics card is pretty underpowered. The moment you turn transparency on or get a flash video on Blip going it starts to stutter a bit.
  6. That said, I could imagine using this as my primary machine for short and medium trips.
  7. The keyboard takes a bit of getting used to in a way I haven’t run into before: the space bar is hard to hit. The keyboard is very compressed in vertical space so your thumb falls below where the space bar is, and you have to retrain your hand to be in a different position which isn’t as comfortable. The shift button can be hard to hit but that’s much easier to get used to, I’ve done it on other small keyboards. I’m not sure why they made it so small, it feels like it could stretch out a bit more.
  8. Other big annoyance is the trackpad — it’s really narrow. Windows machines do the trackpad scroll on the right and bottom edges of the pad and I find myself triggering that accidentally because the tracking area is so tiny. Again, lots of apparent space toward the bottom of the laptop just a really narrow tracking area. This is easier to get used to than the keyboard, though, and the trackpad feels nice like most Vaios and unlike the Voodoo Envy.
  9. I love that it has two USB ports, and a regular VGA connector instead of some weird micro-display-port you need a dongle for. (An Apple decision that bugs me almost as much as the recessed headphone connector on the original iPhone.)
  10. Screen is gorgeous, like all recent Vaios.
  11. Did I mention it’s drop-dead gorgeous? It’s the first laptop I’ve had in 5 years that I don’t want to put stickers on.
  12. Hardware-wise, way better than the Air.

So while it won’t be replacing my Z890 as primary workhorse for now, the X is so light I might take it on my next few trips and use it as a day-top. I’m especially excited by the prospect of the 14 hour battery life (probably 10 in real life use) giving me freedom from power cords through even a whole day at a WordCamp. We’ll see in a week or two if I’m able to comfortably adjust to the too-small keyboard and trackpad.

39 thoughts on “First Impressions of Sony X

  1. 1.6 lbs?! That’s crazy-light. Like, “might turn into a Frisbee by mistake” light. I have doubts about its performance, as it’s running a “netbook”-level Atom CPU. But for basic communications use, light web browsing and looking good using it… a sexy option.

  2. This Sony X thing is the biggest notebook news of 2009, the best of the 13 inchers.

    But I dont think X can beat Air’s graphics unit… Air got 9400 while X only has G45… you know it’s like 4 times the performance. Intel’s only good at CPU… watch out for the new i7 core architecture for mobile platform in 2010… πŸ™‚

    You didn’t mention how much it cost you…?

  3. I’d be very interested to hear how the battery works out, especially after a couple of months.

    I had a VAIO FE series and after a few months, the life steadily degraded to the point that now the battery won’t even let me turn on the PC, now it’s powercord all the way or get a new battery.

  4. Hey Matt,

    Have you tried the Lenovo X200s? It’s the Thinkpad equivalent to this laptop. Insane battery life (10 hours real-world; I once took the thing for a weekend conference and ended up not having to charge it!); about 3 pounds; great keyboard (Lenovo has IBM’s patent on laptop keyboards…yum!)

    The only thing I didn’t like about it was the standard hard drive, so I just went all-out and bought the OCZ Vertex EX SSD. Total outlay with Windows+MS Office+3-year awesome warranty+SSD is about 3 grand, so it ain’t cheap, but it is the best laptop I have ever used, bar none.


    1. I tried a tiny Lenovo about a year ago — I’d be up for giving one a go again. The thing that killed me last time was the screen — it just couldn’t hold a candle to Sony.

  5. I’m in two minds, I need a new laptop and I can’t decide between the X series or the Envy 15. But after reading this I’m closer to picking up an X Series.

  6. The Jazz music is elegant, this advertise not.

    Take care with this if you don’t want loose the respect of the community

    Sorry Matt.

      1. For free?

        BTW: Don’t be so happy for an interview in CNN…, I think WordPress is more important than CNN


  7. Question… Would you mind expanding on comments # 3 and 4 please?

    I would like to know why the colour was a good choice and in what way was the Ethernet port interesting in regards to how it worked. These small things may be turn-offs for some and I for one am very picky about the small details.

    1. I think the color is beautiful and the ethernet is interesting because it’s almost too thin to have an ethernet port, so when it opens up it enlarges the port.

  8. Thanks for your straight forward review even though you’re hugely biased to Sony. πŸ™‚
    Have you had a look at the Dell Adamo? Your impressions!
    Thanks for sharing WordPress with the world.

  9. Hi Matt,

    thanks for making me aware of this neat notebook.

    The X reminds me of my SONY Vaio SR7K, an ancestor. Quite a remarkable progress in ten years.

    The SR7K was pretty robust, had a better video card (for its time) and a terrible keyboard.

    What I dislike about the X (and the SR7K) is the Memory Stick slot.

    They could follow Apple’s example and use something like MagSafe for the power cord.

    I recently walked into a SONY store in Quebec-City. I did not see the X there (nor did they have the SONY Alpha 850 that I wanted to check out), but they had the W and its keyboard felt better than the SR7K’s.

    Have you checked the P? and the Z? and if you did, what made you choose the X in the end?

    SONY’s engineers know how to cram a lot of features in a small space while keeping the build robust! Have fun using it.

  10. I’d like to know how that battery works out for you, too. Like the other guy that posted, I am also a victim of worthless battery life on laptops.

  11. Huh…it looks exactly like a MacBook Pro.

    I guess that fits in with Microsoft’s statement about going for Mac-like aesthetics in Windows 7.

  12. I have both the Envy 133 and the Vaio X. My Envy also has issues with the trackpad, especially when I go only to the web browser, without starting Windows. If I start Windows then the trackpad is performing better. Also battery life is short on the Envy. I love the Vaio X so far. Only thing is that I can’t figure our how to start the built in GPS…

  13. Hi Matt,

    It’s been almost a year since your post above, how’s the Sony X been holding up? The price of it, at least in Japan has come down to about $1100 US. Awfully tempting since I been searching for a netbook with a matte screen. It’s either the Sony X series or the much much cheaper Eee PC 1001PX.

    Would love to hear your long term views on the X series. Thanks!

      1. Thanks for the reply Matt. There are so few long-term reviews out there on the intawebs.

        Seems the X is blighted by the netbook curse (I know Sony refers to it as a laptop). Hmm… Maybe if I have to live in frustration/compromise I might as well choose the cheaper option.