Sony VAIO VGN-AR38G
- Powerful, 17in screen, Blu-ray playback, good gaming capabilities, sleek design
- Battery life a little lacking
A powerful system for powerful tasks, the AR38G can handle most things you throw at it and has a High Definition Blu-Ray drive, ensuring it will be useful for years to come.
Price$ 5,499.00 (AUD)
Sony's focus on creating powerful yet extremely stylish notebooks is becoming more and more evident with their new VAIO models, and the VGN-AR38G is leading the charge. Sporting an incredibly smooth, gloss black aesthetic and a 17in screen, this High Definition ready notebook also contains a Blu-ray drive and a host of the latest mobile computer hardware, making it the perfect desktop replacement PC for gamers and media enthusiasts alike.
The AR38G primarily succeeds in this area thanks to what's under the hood. Running a 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 processor, 2GB of DD2 RAM and an NVIDIA 7600GT graphics card, this is one of the more powerful systems we've had through the office. It runs Windows Vista, which limits our ability to benchmark, but in our encoding test, which converts 53 minutes of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s, it took a total of two minutes and 11 seconds. This is a strong result and satisfies our expectations of this powerful processor.
Similarly, the 7600GT graphics card performed well in 3DMark 06, scoring 2744. The 7600 is a mid range card, although it is towards the top of this tier and its score is a good indication of this. It will be able to play most modern games at average settings, although it will struggle on some more demanding titles. As the screen runs at a resolution of 1920 x 1200, you'll really need to tone down the settings if you want to play something like F.E.A.R at the native resolution.
The display looks fantastic. It has an excellent viewing angle, meaning more than one person can easily watch it at once and the colours are bright and well balanced. Coupled with the already vibrant Windows Vista interface, everything on this system looks great. The high resolution also allows you to stack multiple programs on the screen at once, or watch High Definition content in its native resolution.
The High Resolution support is another big selling point ofthe AR38G. There are several notebooks on the market now with Blu-ray drives, and with the release of the PlayStation 3, HD media collections are beginning to grow. We watched Mission Impossible using the included Win-DVD for Blu-ray software, and were impressed by the clarity of the picture. The response time on the screen was perhaps a little low, because at times the image felt a little slow, but we'd still highly recommend this system as either a primary or secondary HD media player.
The unit comes with speakers built in below the monitor, almost invisible unless you're looking for them. Despite their covert design however, they provide excellent quality audio and high volume levels; more than adequate enough to watch from several meters away. They don't quite rival the Harman Kardon speakers found on some high end Toshiba notebooks for quality, but they are close.
The design as a whole is quite stunning. This unit really looks and feels like a high end, entertainment device. The sleek, gloss black exterior opens to reveal a uniform black interior. The keys are very shallowly mounted, and are a joy to type on. Meanwhile, there is a large quantity of spare real estate surrounding them, with only a touch pad and two sets of media keys marring the otherwise clean facade. There is also a web cam built into the top of the unit, which is great for video chat or general media tasks.
The edges of the VGN-AR38G are paneled in silver, and like some previous VAIO iterations, all the ports and controls are completely hidden behind flip down sections. At first glance this would look like a bare bones system, but opening the panels reveals three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, D-Sub and both headphone and microphone jacks. As expected, HDMI is also present, offering users the ability to connect straight to a TV and take advantage of the unit's Blu-Ray drive on their high end television.
Most of the standard connectivity options are available, including Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11 a/b/g, however strangely, Ethernet only goes up to a speed of 100Mbps. For storage, there are two 120GB hard drives in a road formation and the Blu-ray drive also has recording capabilities should you exhaust your onboard space.
We weren't surprised to discover this machine offers rather poor battery life. As a 17in desktop replacement style model, it isn't designed for long stints away from power and as such, the low battery life isn't a huge concern. We ran our most demanding battery test, a DVD run down, with the settings at maximum performance and the VGN-AR38G lasted exactly one hour before powering down.
For those that want a powerful entertainment and media machine that is also HD ready and future proof, this notebook is a great choice. We'd have liked to see it packing a 7900 series graphics card, to really make it the king in all areas, but it is still more than adequate as is and will handle most of what you can throw at it. Be wary of the low battery life however, if you anticipate being regularly away from AC power.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Surface Pro 4
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Everything we think we know about Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3
- Lenovo's ThinkPad P71 will work with HTC, Oculus VR headsets
- Lenovo's Yoga A12 Android 2-in-1 has futuristic touch panel keyboard
- In PC comeback, ARM will battle Intel in Chromebooks and Windows 10
- Dell: Mainstream laptops with wireless charging are still years away
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTWeb Developer / Applications AnalystQLD
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCFinance Analyst/ Project SpecialistVIC
- TPProject Coordinator/Junior Project ManagerVIC
- TPIT Project Officer - TMRQLD
- TPSolution Architect - Real-Time Tracking SystemVIC
- TPOrganisational Change Manager - ICT Services TransformationQLD
- FTPart Time - IT Service Desk AnalystVIC
- CCService Desk Analyst - TelcoTAS
- FTClient Delivery ManagerSA
- CCProject Support OfficerNSW
- CCCA ITCM / ITCA EngineerNSW
- TPSenior Applications Support OfficerQLD
- TPCrystal Reports DeveloperSA
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer - Tivoli Storage SpecialistNSW
- CCWPF .NET EngineerNSW
- TPProject Manager to manage two concurrent ProjectsQLD
- FTBusiness Intelligence Analyst / DeveloperNSW
- CCSAP Billing & Invoicing ConsultantNSW
- TPScrum MasterVIC
- CCSME in Openstack, AWSNSW
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCProject Support SpecialistVIC
- TPOrganisational Change ManagerQLD
- FTSenior Java Developers (Several positions available)QLD