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Only Sony could make it tempting to spend $1,500 on a PC with little more power than a $400 netbook. The Vaio P "lifestyle PC" starts at $900 with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and 128GB solid-state drive in lieu of a hard disk; the deluxe version tested here (model VPCP118KX) is one and a half grand with a slightly faster 2.0GHz Atom Z550 CPU, roomier 256GB SSD, and Verizon mobile broadband with GPS built in.
To be sure, its 2GB of memory is twice that of your average netbook, and its Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit) OS is more capable than netbooks' Win 7 Starter. But the Vaio P's performance, while perfectly adequate for productivity apps, trails that of comparably priced ultraportables by a wide margin.
But believe us, no one who sees the Vaio P asks, "How fast is it?" Instead, they exclaim, "How cool is that?", ooh-ing and ahh-ing over a notebook that fits into a jacket pocket like an oversized checkbook or cigarette case. The Vaio measures a sleek 4.7 by 9.6 by 0.8 inches and weighs 1.3 pounds, a fraction longer and heavier but thinner than the diminutive Fujitsu Lifebook UH900 we tested in May.
The Sony's screen crams 1,600 by 768-pixel resolution into 8 diagonal inches. It's bright, sharp, and colorful, but text in menus and dialog boxes is inescapably small and hard to read. A handy button on the system's front edge, however, toggles between full resolution and 1,280 by 600, which makes for more vertical scrolling but makes icons bigger and text more legible.
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