Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G

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Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G
  • Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G
  • Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G
  • Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18G

Pros

  • Excellent performance, Blu-ray drive, excellent display, HDMI

Cons

  • Battery life

Bottom Line

Excellent performance and powerful multimedia capabilities thanks to a Blu-ray drive and HDMI make the FZ18G an excellent desktop replacement.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 20 stores)

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Power is the order of the day, and Sony's new VAIO VGN-FZ18G leads the charge. Sporting a stylish, brushed aluminium and black aesthetic, a 15.4in display, a High Definition Blu-ray drive and a HDMI connector, it's an ideal desktop replacement PC for gamers and media enthusiasts alike.

Shipping with Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, the FZ18G has an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz processor, a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of DDR2 memory (expandable up to 2GB). It also features built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity. It has plenty of options including three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port for hooking up a monitor, headphone and microphone jacks, a FireWire 400 port, LAN and modem ports as well as an ExpressCard slot. There are also Memory Stick and SD card slots too. As it sports a Blu-ray drive, this VAIO includes a HDMI port, allowing both video and audio connection directly to a High Definition television or receiver with a single cable (not included).

We encoded 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files to test the system's performance. The encoding time of 1min 59sec, is excellent and more than satisfied our expectations of the powerful processor. Similarly, the NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT graphics card performed well in 3DMark 06, scoring 2363. This score indicates that the FZ18G will be able to play most modern games at average settings, although it will struggle on some more demanding titles. For playing titles like F.E.A.R you'll need to turn down the settings to ensure a smooth game play experience.

At the heart of the FZ18G is a Blu-ray drive, along with a 1280 x 800 15.4in display. The screen looks superb, and it has an excellent viewing angle, so more than one person can easily watch it. Colours are especially excellent, and the screen is bright and clear. Our only complaint was the response time seemed a little slow, and at times during our video and gaming tests there was some noticeable ghosting.

Of course the big selling point of this unit is it's Blu-Ray drive, which is the next big thing in high definition home entertainment technology. We watched Casino Royale using the included Win-DVD for Blu-ray software, and were impressed by the clarity of the picture.. The unit comes with built in speakers above the keyboard, and although they aren't outstanding, they do a reasonably solid job of providing audio. To fully immerse yourself in the Blu-ray experience though, we'd recommend a high end pair of headphones, or a good set of speakers. Overall, we highly recommend the FZ18G as a primary or secondary Blu-ray player.

The FZ18G's design is stylish, but it doesn't stand out. Its silver and black colour scheme gives an aura of sophistication, highlighted by the matte, rather than gloss finish. Flipping the unit open reveals a flat, but well spaced out keyboard that is very comfortable to type on. Meanwhile, there is a large amount of spare real estate surrounding it, with just a touch pad below, and a set of media keys above. There is also a web cam built into the top of the unit; ideal for use with video chat, taking photos or other media tasks.

Battery life is poor, but about what we were expecting from a desktop replacement machine with a Blu-ray drive and a large display. We ran both a Blu-ray and a DVD run down test, with the settings at maximum performance. The VGN-FZ18G lasted 1hr 5min while watching a Blu-ray movie, and 1hr 13min for a DVD. Keep in mind that reducing performance in the Windows Vista settings should get you a bit of extra battery life.

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