A reasonably cheap netbook let down by low battery life and average usability.
10.1 in 1,024×600 display, 1.4kg, 1.83GHz Intel Atom N470, 1.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows 7 Starter 32-bit
With a smooth white lid and embossed VAIO logo, there’s no mistaking the M12M1E for a Sony product. The sleek curves and subtle design cues make it stand out against most other netbooks.
Open it up though, and the M12M1E looks a little less impressive. The main body looks grey rather than white, while the keyboard has silver keys. Sony has chosen a traditional flat keyboard design rather than individual isolated keys. With little space to play with, each key is very tightly grouped with its neighbours and typing will initially be difficult for anyone with larger fingers. The touchpad is small yet responsive, registering movement with very little pressure. The buttons located directly below it are slightly too close to the lip of the wrist rest, and were also very small.
The 10.1in screen has a matte finish, but instead of masking reflections effectively it diffuses them across the screen, which can be distracting. While colours were reproduced accurately, brightness was quite low, even at its maximum setting. The 1,024×600 resolution means extra vertical scrolling compared to a ‘standard’ laptop screen with 800 or more pixels vertically. It’s also too small for 720p video, but the integrated graphics struggle with fast-moving high-definition content anyway.
The built-in webcam is a 640×480 model, but was fine for video calling. Sound quality was poor, even for a netbook. Treble notes were very sharp and overshadowed the quiet mid-range. Bass notes were all but inaudible, and volume was also very low.
When it comes to specifications, Sony has made the M12M1E in the traditional netbook mould, with an Intel Aton N470 processor, 1GB of memory and a 250GB hard disk. Connectivity was also identical to most other netbooks, with a VGA output, three USB ports and a memory card reader, as well as 802.11n WiFi.
Performance was – unsurprisingly – in line with other netbooks. Any Atom-powered model with 1GB of memory will struggle when multitasking, and the Vaio was no different. Opening several programs at once, or having multiple browser tabs open pushes the 1.83GHz processor close to 100 per cent activity. This also forces the fan to spin up, which although not noisy at maximum load was still audible even at idle speeds.
Despite the low-power components, the three-cell battery managed only four hours in our light-use test, which is below average for a modern netbook. After several hours left idle, the keyboard was mildly warm to the touch, and the fan was audible from slightly further away.
Sony products often ooze style, but can cost much more than the competition. The M12M1E isn’t expensive and looks great from the outside, but under the lid the design looks tired. Add the poor speakers, small keyboard and short battery life and there are plenty of better models to choose from.
|Processor||Intel Atom N470|
|Processor clock speed||1.83GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Sound||Realtek HD Audio|
|Viewable size||10.1 in|
|Graphics Processor||Intel GMA 3150|
|Total storage capacity||250GB|
|Optical drive type||none|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||10/100|
|Wireless networking support||802.11b/g/n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SD, Memory Stick Pro/Duo|
|Other ports||minijack audio output, minijack microphone input|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Starter 32-bit|
|Operating system restore option||backup and recovery software|
|Software included||Microsoft Works 9, VAIO recovery center|
|Warranty||one year RTB|