Sony VAIO VGN-G118GN
- Size, battery life, internal optical drive, slim design
- Screen flexes too much
The Sony VAIO VGN-G811GN/B is a very nice option for people who expect to be on the road a lot. The battery life is good and for such a small unit it's nice to see an internal optical drive.
Price$ 3,699.00 (AUD)
Sony's put its stamp on the ultra-portable market by introducing the VAIO VGN-G118GN/B; a small, lightweight notebook with a 12.1in screen and an ultra low voltage CPU. Despite its smaller stature, the new G-series doesn't skimp on functionality, offering an internal optical drive and Windows Vista Business edition. It performed comfortably in our tests and has excellent battery life.
The Sony VGN-G118GN/B uses an Intel Core Solo U1500 1.33GHz ultra low voltage CPU, which offers lower performance, but also emits less heat and helps keep the battery running for longer. The onboard Intel graphics chip is enough to handle most business applications and manages Vista's Aero interface without a problem. Although the VGN-G118GN/B is small, it still comes with a decently sized 100GB hard drive for data storage. There's also 1GB of DDR2 RAM built into this system, but the smaller chassis limits the maximum RAM capacity to only 1.5GB for future upgrades.
We encoded 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files to test the system's performance. Its encoding time of three minutes and 52 seconds is fairly slow and indicates that the U1500 CPU is not up to heavy processing tasks. However, for general business applications it will be fine.
As a business notebook this unit comes with some useful features. A biometric fingerprint scanner allows the system to be locked and adds security to the login process. A VGA port is available to output presentations to a larger screen or projector. Meanwhile a programmable "S-Button", can be customised to switch between external display modes and other presentation-friendly functions, or it can be programmed to run any application.
Weighing just 1.15kg this new G-series notebook from Sony is designed with portability in mind. The 12.1in screen provides a maximum resolution of 1024 x 768 and is one of the thinnest screens we've seen. However, Sony's efforts to make this unit small and lightweight haven't left the chassis weak and vulnerable. The carbon fibre compound used is both light and strong, but at only 4mm in thickness the screen is frightfully flexible. Although the housing around the LCD manages to take a portion of the strain, we wouldn't recommend this unit if you have a rough lifestyle.
The screen uses a white LED as a backlight and produces a reasonably bright image with decent contrast, but it only has a very shallow viewing angle, making it more difficult to see from any position other than directly front-on.
Considering the size of the unit, one of its best features is the internal optical drive; an option often omitted from ultra portables. We used this drive to facilitate our worst-case scenario battery test, where we run down the battery using a looped DVD. The system held out for an impressive three hours and 31 minutes. This test is considered worst case as the optical drive and speakers help drain the battery, as well as the core components like the CPU and RAM. To save battery-life, power to the optical drive can be turned off within Windows when it's not in use. Under normal workloads we expect this system to run considerably longer when away from a power source and using the power saving features according to your requirements can further enhance battery life.
We noted that the speakers were able to reach very loud volumes for such a small machine, but beyond a certain level the sound became severely distorted. That said, with the volume at a reasonable level we were still able to hear our movie comfortably.
The keyboard is very small and the keys take some getting used to. We don't recommend you use this for typing long documents. The touchpad and mouse buttons were comfortable to use and responsive in our tests.
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