Sony VAIO VGN-G11VN/TC review
With some incredible design and amazing battery life, the G11 is a tempting mobile option.
Review Date: 14 Mar 2007
Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson
Price when reviewed: (£1,799 inc VAT)
Sony takes its ultraportables seriously. Every potential weight saving is pursued with tigerish fervour, and the result is this: a 1.13kg notebook that not only includes a DVD writer, but also lasted for an astonishing 8hrs 30mins in our battery tests.
We managed to get hold of not just the standard XN version, but also the "premium" G11VN/TC reviewed here. Only available from Sony Style, it includes 2GB of RAM, a robust brown cover (which wraps around the notebook) and a surprisingly attractive brown finish. The streamlined chassis and 4mm-thick screen, made of carbon-fibre laminate, are stunning on both models, but the TC's distinctive colour gives it an edge in a market full of dull-but-functional systems.
There's even an Apple-like design touch to the optical drive's eject button, which finds its home at the top-right- hand side of the chassis (fear not, there's also a more traditionally placed button on the drive itself). The DVD writer itself is compatible with all kinds of media, including DVD-RAM.
We were also impressed to see a 100GB hard disk inside. The 1.8in Toshiba disk uses perpendicular recording to pack in such a high capacity, and Toshiba claims the drive consumes just 1.1W while seeking.
A good thing, because when it comes to power consumption, every little helps - it's no good having a mere slip of a laptop if you can't rely on the battery. The G11's press release claims an optimistic-sounding nine hours, which we scoffed at until our intensive-use battery test produced a result of 4hrs 2mins. And it's worth repeating that our light-use test ran for an amazing 8hrs 30mins. Even with uncompromising use, the G11 will comfortably see you through a day's work without needing to go near a wall socket.
The extraordinary battery life and light weight wouldn't be possible without Intel's Core Solo U1500. Generating a maximum of just 5.5W of heat, the CPU doesn't need heavy or power-consuming cooling fans to keep the system stable. The amount of computing power available inevitably suffers: the 1.33GHz CPU struggled in our benchmark tests, with a low overall score of 0.55. But this doesn't tell the whole story - our benchmarks push a machine to its absolute limits, and the G11 isn't designed to run for hours on end encoding video. When it comes to everyday tasks, such as word processing, internet access and spreadsheets, the G11 works perfectly. It's compatible with Vista's Aero effects too thanks to Intel's GMA 950 graphics. Intel also provides the wireless chip with 802.11a/b/g support. Finally, the security-minded will appreciate a TPM chip and fingerprint reader.
So almost everything about the G11 points towards a solid recommendation, but we do have a couple of criticisms. We'd have liked to see a longer and more comprehensive warranty than one-year return-to-base - most notably, the Dell Latitude D420 comes with three years of on-site cover.
Also, the pre-production model we saw had a problem with its screen quality. White backgrounds were discoloured by a series of faint pink and green vertical strands. Colour accuracy was also poor, to the point that even watching DVDs made it obvious. This problem could well be solved when the G11 goes into mass production - we'll keep you informed of any improvements.
What won't change is the size of the screen and its resolution: this is a 12.1in LED-backlit screen, and it runs at a basic 1,024 x 768. The lid feels alarmingly flimsy too - solid enough when the laptop is closed, but we'd hesitate to mistreat it too much while open. Sony assures us that it's still robust thanks in part to its flexibility, but we'd still treat with care.
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Unlock your Moto X with a "tattoo"
- Samsung continues Tizen OS push with Galaxy Gear "upgrade"
- Killing the Surface Mini hit revenues, Microsoft reveals
- How to report website overblocking and miscategorisation to ISPs
- iPad sales stall as owners "too happy to upgrade"
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- BBC Sport comes to Chromecast
- Those parental-control filters? As few as 4% are signing up
- iPhone 6's Apple logo may light up for notifications
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Hacking the Internet of Things: from smart cars to toilets
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- The 12 best tablets of 2014: what’s the best tablet on the market?
- How to free up hard disk space
- Driverless cars: could your next car be driven by a robot?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?