Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU review
Quick, packed full of features and boasting a 16:9 high definition display, but it's too expensive for its own good.
Review Date: 4 Aug 2008
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £1,004 (£1,155 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Plenty of laptops arrive at PC Pro with entertainment in mind, but few are as capable or well-featured as the new Sony VAIO VGN-FW11ZU. It's one of the first machines of any kind - desktops included - that we've seen with a Blu-ray writer, for instance, and a raft of Centrino 2 components provide more than enough power to cope with high definition video playback.
The screen doesn't let the VAIO down when it comes to home entertainment, either. It's a 16.4in panel that exudes quality in almost every department, with colours that appear bright and punchy. Light areas are suitably sun-drenched, and darker shades are moody and atmospheric. Detail is rendered equally well, with the various nuances and improvements brought about by the move to HD clearly evident.
It's worth bearing in mind, though, that the native resolution of 1600 x 900 means that full HD images need to be slightly scaled to fit - although with a panel this size you'd be hard pressed to spot any discernable difference between the scaled image and a full 1080 HD movie.
The fine screen is complemented by speakers that are surprisingly full and punchy, and more than a match for most entertainment laptops we've seen recently. Treble and high-end sounds are suitably distinct and, although the bass is a little weak, the sound won't affect your movie-watching enjoyment too much.
The exterior qualities of the VAIO continue thanks to a good-looking chassis, although it's not the toughest we've ever seen. The panel feels reasonably solid, but the wrist-rest, particularly on the right, feels flimsy. The metallic shell also felt cheaper once we started handling it. It's certainly not as durable as the hard-as-nails chassis that encases the Dell XPS M1730, for instance.
The now-familiar 'Scrabble-style' keyboard layout has been retained in this new generation of VAIO and, as before, it's extremely comfortable to use for prolonged typing sessions. The position of the keyboard is also a minor, if welcome, highlight: it's slightly nearer to the front edge of the machine due to the large speakers above it and, coupled with the slight tapering of the laptop from front to back, makes for an exceptionally comfortable typing position.
The trackpad is also impressive: it's large enough to make scrolling around the screen a breeze, and offers a decent level of precision. The mouse buttons are responsive and light, too.
Inside, Sony has seen fit to include an impressive specification that's packed with powerful, new components. Underpinning the whole system is an Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile T9400 running at 2.53GHz.
There's a headline-grabbing 4GB of RAM, but as 32-bit Windows swallows up nigh on a gigabyte of that for memory addressing space, 3GB would have been a more economic choice. Still, there's a generous 300GB hard disk, and the Centrino 2 sticker on the front heralds the appearance of Intel's new 5100 WiFi link and PM45 chipset.
This selection of superb components provides a suitably impressive set of benchmark results. In our 2D tests, the VAIO scored 1.4 overall - one of the best results we've ever seen, and faster than many desktop systems. It's proof positive that the FW is more than just an entertainment laptop.
In fact it's quicker than every laptop we've ever seen bar one: the Alienware Area-51 m15x scored a stunning 1.48 in our benchmarks, although it's worth bearing in mind that the Alienware costs £1,843 compared to the Sony's £1,004.
- 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
- Apple releases round 4 of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite betas
- Cortana preview headed to Britain in two weeks
- 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?