Finding a Laptop You Can Use in Coach

My first use of wifi onboard Virgin America last month made me realize something. My laptop is way too big. Ok, maybe the seat pitch is way too small, but either way it presents a problem. I want something smaller, especially now that Cranky Concierge is starting to take off (more than 50 clients so far) and I need to be in touch. Sony recently gave me the chance to take a netbook for a spin, and I think the netbook is going to be the way to go.

Sony P Series Comparison

Believe it or not, the idea of finding a smaller laptop is not anything new. My current laptop with the 15.4″ screen (on the right) is actually much smaller than the absurdly large desktop replacement I had before. But now, I want to shrink again. Somehow I got on Sony’s press distribution list, and I saw a release for their P series. I sent a note to them asking for more info and they actually sent me a loaner version for 2 weeks. Cool.

This thing is an absolute rock star, but for that reason, it’s not cheap. It’s tiny, but it’s also powerful. Typing on Sony P SeriesThe P Series has an 8 inch screen and it weighs only 1.4 pounds. That’s just silly.

My biggest fear was that the keyboard would be too small to be useful, but it actually was a piece of cake for typing. My only problem is that the Page Up/Page Down keys were difficult to use, and as a frequent tab flipper in Firefox, that was a pain. But typing wasn’t tough at all.

Don’t think that this is some mini-PC on the inside. It’s pretty damn powerful. It uses an Intel Atom processor between 1.33 to 2 GHz depending on the version. All versions have 2 gigs of RAM and anywhere from 80 gigs to 256 gigs of storage. The version they sent me was top of the line and instead of a hard drive actually has a solid state drive. No fan, no moving parts, just awesomeness. This was also my first look at Windows 7, and it ran with ease.

There are a couple of USB ports to hook into, and there’s a built-in camera. Of course, there is a wireless card, but even more interesting is that there is a Verizon mobile card built-in as well. If you want to sign up with Verizon, you can access the internet anywhere there’s Verizon service. The battery lasts up to 3.5 hours, but there is an extended life one you can get as well.

I’ve been using a touchpad for a long time now, so I was afraid that the little pointer stick thingy would be annoying. They’ve really improved these things since I first had one about 10 years ago. You can now tap on the pointer to click, and there’s a third button that you can use to scroll. Sony P Series ClosedIn other words, you can do just about everything you can do with a touchpad.

As the pictures show, “tiny” is an understatement. This makes other netbooks look large and clunky. I took it with me everywhere, and I had plenty of googly-eyed stares from people wanting to touch it and play with it. It’s definitely a head turner. So what’s not to like?

It ain’t cheap. The base level costs $850. The cheapest solid state drive unit is $1000, and the one I tested is a whopping $1900. Considering that other netbooks start around $300, that’s going to hurt its market size. But those other netbooks are larger, clunkier, and at the $300 pricepoint, slower. It’s the small size that really grabbed me and has me seriously considering buying one.

If I get one, it would the $1000 solid state drive model, but can I justify it? I’m still working that out, but man do I want it. Anyone have netbooks they love or hate? Chime in below.

[Sony P-Series information]

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