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.
- Child abuse showdown "hijacked by ignorant MPs"
- Government wheedles more funding for online child protection from ISPs
- AMD’s "Seattle" ARM chips set for 2014 release
- Microsoft offloads cheap Surface RT tablets to schools
- Outlook.com to ditch linked accounts over security fears
- Adobe’s subscription-only Creative Cloud goes live
- Skype rolls out free video voicemail
- Spotify confirms UK outage
- Google builds system to identify child abuse images
- Google balloons beam broadband to remote areas
- Huawei Ascend P6 review: first look
- Adobe Illustrator CC review: first look
- Let MPs tell us what they really want ISPs to block
- Adobe Photoshop CC review: first look
- WWDC 2013 and iOS 7 launch: live blog
- Sony VAIO Pro review: first look
- Want child porn blocked? Meet the IWF
- Is it worth upgrading a media centre to Windows 8?
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Manage a mailing list with MailChimp
- Best Linux distros for 2013
- 36 best Android apps
- How to track a stolen phone, laptop or tablet
- The man who teaches the world to Google
- 38 best iPad apps
- Moving PC made easy
- 35 best web apps
- Software subscriptions return us to a life of servitude
- Dropbox: everything you need to know
- Facebook "click on the photo" scams: how they work
- Three alternatives to Word's spelling and grammar checker
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Microsoft Office and the death of upgrades
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW