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Sony VAIO VGN-NS30E/S review

Verdict

A dependable budget laptop, but a bit of a porker - and it isn't the most stylish either

Review Date: 5 Oct 2009

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £435 (£500 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

We've seen Sony's NS-series laptops in the PC Pro Labs many times before, and now we've taken delivery of the latest model, the VGN-NS30E/S.

Put the Sony side by side with the likes of HP's stylish dv-series laptops, and it looks its age. Finished in silver, the VGN-NS30E/S wants to look like an aluminium-framed beauty. Step closer, however, and it becomes clear that this is just another budget laptop, finished in cunningly textured plastic.

But while there isn't a sliver of aluminium to be seen, build quality is very good for the price. The base has virtually no give in it and the lid feels strong enough to survive the odd knock. It is, however, a 15.4in laptop and quite heavy as a result (2.76kg), so despite the reasonable 4hrs 40mins of light-use battery life, we'd hesitate to regularly cart it to and fro.

Performance, meanwhile, is average. The 2GHz Core 2 Duo T4200 processor scored 0.94 in our benchmarks. Gaming is out too, thanks to the weakling Intel integrated graphics.

Spend some time with the Sony, however, and most people are likely to come away impressed. The keyboard is a great example of how to be comfy on a budget. The Scrabble-tile keys aren't the last word in feel, being just a touch spongy, but the layout ensures they fall under the finger effortlessly and prove comfortable for long stretches of typing.

Sit back and enjoy a movie, and the Sony earns yet another feather in its cap. The glossy display doesn't have a generous native resolution at just 1,280 x 800, but its quality embarrasses pricier laptops with realistic skintones and believable colours. Even the speakers offer plenty of volume and reasonable clarity.

The new model is a good all-rounder, but the price has increased by about £25 since its predecessor, the VGN-NS20E/S, and seemingly for little gain. We'd rather pay a bit extra for the likes of Samsung's R720 and get a proper desktop replacement with a high-resolution screen and a decent graphics chipset.

Author: Sasha Muller

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