The Vaio YA is a more than suitable netbook upgrade — the only downside is that the Vaio YB has a longer battery life and is considerably cheaper.
When it comes down to it, the YA is the Intel version of Sony's Vaio YB series.
This means that it shares the 11.6-inch, 1366x768 screen, three USB ports, VGA and HDMI-out, SD and memory card-readers, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n, 320GB hard drive and 2GB RAM specs, along with the easy-access compartment, should you want to pump up the RAM count.
Our YA arrived with Windows Home Premium 64-bit installed, an interesting thing considering one of our gripes with the YB was the bundling of the 32-bit edition. The Vaio YA hasn't turned up in the Sony store yet, so it remains to be seen what version of Windows is actually deployed.
The big difference is, of course, the Intel Core i3 U380 1.33GHz processor that's inside and, as a consequence, the Intel HD graphics that go along with it. This shift alone from AMD has performance implications in not just graphics and CPU, but in battery life, too.
The immediate assumption would be that historical norms would be in effect, with AMD delivering better graphics performance, and Intel delivering better CPU and GPU performance, but not everything has fallen out as one would expect.
Running through 3DMark06 and PCMark05 netted scores of 1108 and 3600 respectively, compared to the YB's 2057 and 2754, bearing out the assertion. Battery-testing revealed a slight advantage to AMD, though, with the YA scoring three hours and 10 minutes compared with the YB's three hours and 28 minutes.
Ultimately, it's the price that undoes the Vaio YA — while we thought, when we shot the video review above, that the price would be similar to the Vaio YB's AU$749, the YA is priced at AU$1099. For this, you may as well go with the YB for the better battery life and graphical horsepower. Still, for those who prefer the comfort of Intel, Sony has your option right here.