Monday, August 15, 2011

Justifying the higher price of a Sony VAIO VPCYB25AG/B compared to a HP Mini netbook

When some weeks back I had to choose a small, light, ultra-portable notebook for my father [primarily for accessing the Web], I faced a dilemma - whether to go with the cheaper HP Mini [or equivalent alternatives from Dell, et al.], or to go with the relatively expensive Sony VAIO VPCYB25AG/B.

I decided to compare to differences between the Mini and the VAIO and assign individual costs to these differences, in order to determine if the VAIO justified its higher price [INR ~25K, compared to INR ~17.5K for the HP Mini 210-2103tu PC].


The VAIO has the following extra stuff compared to the Mini, and I've assigned an approximate price to each of the extra things. It has to be remembered that the extra stuff will be enjoyed over the many years one is expected to use the product, so the actual value realized might be significantly more than my conservative estimates.
  1. CPU: The CPUs can be considered broadly equivalent. However, judging by some online reviews, the AMD chip in the VAIO beats the Mini's Intel chip in standard CPU benchmark tests by a material margin. INR 1,500 value.
  2. RAM: The VAIO has double the amount of RAM than the Mini has, although its memory is slightly slower than the Mini's. INR 1,000 value.
  3. Display: VAIO has a 11.6 inches display, compared to 10.1 inches on the Mini. My hands-on experience made me realize that a while a 10.6 inch display fares poorly from a readability perspective [defeating the purpose of buying a machine for Web access], a 11.6 inch display passes the minimum acceptability barrier by a decent margin. INR 2,000 value.
  4. GPU: With its AMD Radeon GPU, the VAIO easily beats the Mini when it comes to graphics performance [increasingly important in more and more products, such as in Internet Explorer 9]. INR 1,500 value.
  5. HDMI port: The port is absent in the Mini, but available on the VAIO. INR 500 value.
  6. Software: The VAIO has a better bundled software package. INR 500 value.
  7. Design: The VAIO has a far more elegant and tasteful design than the Mini, one that's both more functional and more pleasing. INR 1,000 value.
  8. The "Sony" and "VAIO" flaunt value: One must assign a price to the extra flaunt value that comes from carrying a Sony VAIO. Acer, Compaq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc., just can't beat the Sony and VAIO brands. INR 500 value.
  9. Build quality: A minute spent with both the Mini and the VAIO makes it clear that the Mini doesn't match the build quality, finish, manliness, ruggedness and workmanship of the VAIO. The VAIO gives the feeling of a machine that has been designed and built from scratch, with care and love, while the Mini gives the feeling of an assembled machine, a toy. INR 1,000 value.
I concluded that the extra differential value offered by the VAIO is about INR 9,500, which more than compensates for the INR ~7.5K difference between the actual market prices of the products. Even if the extra value is not taken into account, essential attributes such as display size, design, and build quality made the VAIO the more sensible choice.

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