Slickly designed hybrid: Sony Vaio YB Series review

Sony has grabbed AMD’s new portable-friendly APU and gone to town with a design set to win hearts and minds. This light-weight ultra-portable design weighs in somewhere between a netbook and a full-power (read: expensive) notebook.

The Sony Vaio YB Series notebook (of which we looked specifically at the VPCYB16KGG model) uses the AMD Processor E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Discrete-Class Graphics. The E-350 has a dual-core “Bobcat” design running at 1.6GHz and 1MB of L2 cache combined with the 80 graphics cores of the Radeon 6310 design running at 500MHz. The APU is tied to the system with a Hudson M1 chipset providing system IO.

The Vaio YB integrates an 11.3in LCD with a resolution of 1366 x 768. We like this resolution at this screen size the screen is just big enough to accommodate it so it looks nice and sharp while also meeting the pixel count requirements for 720p HD content. The YB’s display also has an extremely high-gloss finish – and it’s one of those love it or hate it techs. It gives the display an extremely clear and sharp aspect but woe to you if you’re sitting under a bright light (or the sun) as it’s very reflective. The system also includes a 500GB hard disk drive 802.11bgn from Atheros and an “Assist” button on the top of the chassis which loads help software or system recovery software as needed.

On the bench the Sony Vaio YB ran beautifully. It’s a slick machine with a slick design. The E-350 processor is more than comparable performance-wise with an Atom chip and offers a user experience more along the lines of a Pentium. It was definitely more responsive than Intel CULV processors but so is a pen and paper.

We got over six hours out of this notebook with a moderate level of usage during the day. The system is more than capable of dealing with internet tasks basic business tasks like email word processing and none-too-fancy spreadsheeting very basic picture editing and resizing and so on.

The downside to this model would have to be the trackpad. We found it too small too slick and too inconsistent – a surprise in a Sony product where product interaction is usually half the story. Unfortunately we kept on pressing the Assist button instead of the power button (which is in the hinge of the unit) out of habit which would boot up a recovery environment instead of Windows 7 Home Premium. Annoying but something you’d get used to extremely quickly.

Available from Sony retailing for $749.
APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)