Sony's 3G VAIO P: accelerometer, digital compass and stand-up controls
By Rick Martin
May 10, 2010
With so many variations of smartphones, netbooks, and tablet PCs on the market it's hard to imagine the categories of mobile tech getting more confusing - but they are. Sony has just thrown another unclassifiable beast into the mix with its new VAIO P Series. The first Type P had a sexy and ultra-portable form factor that could be stuffed into one of your larger pockets and while this new Type P might not be a game changer, it certainly has a boat-load of mobile-friendly features.
Sony has jumped on board the geo-location bandwagon with a built-in GPS and a new digital compass. The VAIO Location Search software allows you to view your current position and orientation on a map including notable points of interests from the surrounding areas, all without tying up your browser. Sony's addition of "Everywair 3G", of course, was a must for features like this to function.
Available in Japan in June, the VAIO P is quite possibly the first PC designed to be used while standing or walking. Sony has complemented the central trackball with touchpad and mouse buttons on either side of the screen to be operated with your thumbs as you hold the device with two hands.
An accelerometer has been added to the new VAIO P as well, allowing the user to control the device with physical movements. The display will reorient to portrait mode when held sideways, making the VAIO P an intriguing document/book reader considering the complementary buttons can be used to turn pages with your thumbs. Throw in Sony's PS3 remote play function and the VAIO is suddenly a capable media device as well (for PS3 owners anyway).
Sony's press release says that "a gentle shake" can be used to navigate between pages on the web or in a PDF document. This feature sounds like it might be either amazingly useful or incredibly annoying, depending on the quality of Sony's handiwork.
As for hardware specs, the VAIO P will have an Atom Z540 processor, 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and a 64GB solid state drive. It still has a standard-pitch keyboard, making it one of the few ultra-portable netbooks that's not too bad for typing. According to Sony, battery life is only up to 5 hours, although purchasing a separate "extended battery" can bring it up to a respectable 10 hours. As expected it will ship with Windows 7 Home Premium. The size and weight remain the same as the previous model at 9.6 x 0.8 x 4.7 inches and 1.4 pounds respectively.
The bright choice of colors here (including a very noticeable hot pink) combined with the fact that the VAIO P is just about "purse-size" makes me think that this might be a popular laptop for ladies on the go. I wonder what kind of ad campaign Sony will come up with this time? (Remember last time?)