The VAIO Y ultraportable laptop is attractive - smooth lines, glossy 11.6-inch display in a thin lid, and solid barrel-hinge holding the machine together. But how does it perform?

NameUltraportable laptop: Sony VAIO Y (VPCYB36KG/B)
At a glance:Entry-level graphics with DX11 support,Minimal processing power,Good battery life
Summary:A good option for the budget-conscious.

As I’d expect of any ultraportable from Sony, the VAIO Y (VPCYB36KG/B) is attractive – smooth lines, glossy 11.6-inch display in a thin lid, and solid barrel-hinge holding the machine together. That said, it has a maximum thickness of 32mm. This gives the VAIO Y the second-greatest overall volume in our 2011 ultraportable laptop roundup, despite having the smallest-equal screen size. It’s also near the heavier end of the scale, at 1.5kg.

Under the hood is an AMD E-450 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). This is AMD’s answer to Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform: a CPU with onboard ‘discrete-class’ graphics – in this case, the AMD Radeon HD 6320 with full DirectX 11 support, which Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors do not provide.

Performance was a mixed bag: graphically, its scores were poor in comparison to full-sized laptops, but the VAIO is capable of running some less graphically-demanding 3D games as long as you use low graphical settings. In processor tests, the VAIO came in last place in our roundup, equal to the MSI U270, which runs the same E-450 APU, and the HP Pavilion dm1 which runs the E-350. It’s fine for basic web-browsing and document work, but unsuited for heavy design, audio or video work.

A minor annoyance worth noting: accomplished touch-typists will find the tiny right-hand ‘shift’ key a major annoyance, particularly when hammering out long documents. With that exception, keyboard design is otherwise good.

Battery life came in at 4 hours 12 minutes, just over its stated life of 4 hours. Optional 4.5 and 7.5-hour batteries are also available.

Altogether, it’s neither the most powerful, nor the smallest unit on test – what does sell the VAIO Y is its very reasonable $900 price tag. For the budget-conscious with web browsing in mind, it’s not a bad option at all.

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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