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At what cost come pocketable PCs?

Many of the netbooks we've seen recently look like full-size laptops, zapped by an incredible shrinking raygun. But if you think they look small, you should see Sony's latest ultraportable.

The Vaio P5000-series laptops have teeny 8in screens, although they're unexpectedly wide - their aspect ratio almost earns the title cinematic. Our early hands-on review suggests that Sony's attempt at miniaturisation may have made the PC pocketable - but at the cost of throttling performance.

Lest we forget, the first netbook was not the Asus Eee PC. The original netbook went into production about the same time as the Eee PC in November 2007, but had been on the drawing board since January 2005. Its specs listed a 7.5in screen, 256MB of RAM, a 1GB solid-state disk and a Linux operating system. Of course, we're talking about One Laptop Per Child's (OLPC's) XO laptop - although you may be more familiar with the term '$100 laptop'.

Its price has never hit the hoped-for point, and the only way private buyers could acquire one has been through time-limited ‘Buy 1 Get 1' schemes. Under this offer, consumers pay for two laptops and keep one; the other is donated to a child in the Third World.

Given the void left by the OLPC XO's near-unobtainability, vendors such as Zoostorm have tried to fill the gap with a child's laptop that follows some of the XO's ground. Well, the Fizzbook Bang follows its colour scheme at least.

In lean times, it never does any harm to find ways to save money. One idea is to lighten your electricity bill, which is what two desktop PCs we review this month could potentially do. RL Supplies' Modula 330 Mini PC takes a brand-new version of the Intel Atom that features dual cores for double the fun. The other, Advent's aptly named Eco PC, uses an older Intel Core 2 Duo processor, with an even slower CPU speed.

Comparing their respective performances and power consumption, the latest figures suggest that the slowest on paper can in fact be the fastest - and that a netbook chip doesn't necessarily mean the most miserly appetite for the mains.

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