Sony VAIO VGN-N27GH

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Sony VAIO VGN-N27GH
  • Sony VAIO VGN-N27GH
  • Sony VAIO VGN-N27GH
  • Sony VAIO VGN-N27GH

Pros

  • Stylish design, comfortable keyboard and touchpad, front memory card slots

Cons

  • Encoding test results, poor speakers, sluggish performance, poor battery life

Bottom Line

The VGN-N27GH is a solid, but not outstanding notebook for anyone looking for basic performance in a stylish package. Unfortunately, poor battery life and sluggish performance are turn offs, and may turn away users looking for performance on the road.

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The Sony VAIO VGN-N27GH is an affordable, all-purpose notebook that offers basic performance in an attractive package. Finished in a stylish white and grey casing, the N27GH should suit most users, provided they don't wish to play games or run graphical intense applications. Unfortunately, poor battery life lets this VAIO down.

The VGN-N27GH comes with a 1.60GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5200 processor, 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM, an 80GB hard disk and a DVD+R/RW drive. Wireless networking (802.11a/b/g) is included in addition to wired networking via rear Ethernet and Modem ports. Unfortunately, the N27GH doesn't include any other wireless features, such as Bluetooth or infrared. Instead, two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, a FireWire 400 port and a standard 15-pin D-sub port for external monitor connection are all located on the right side, along with an ExpressCard slot. For extra security, a Kensington lock is located on the left hand side next to the DVD drive, while there are front memory card slots for SD cards and Sony Memory Sticks.

The VAIO has a 15.4in widescreen XGA display with a native resolution of 1280x800 pixels. The display is clear and bright, but not as vibrant as some other models on the market. DVD movies with dark scenes suffered from a lack of clarity at times. The display as a whole could have been sturdy as well, as it showed a little distortion when flexed.

The N27GN has integrated graphics (Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950) with up to 128MB video memory taken from the units RAM. The VAIO is clearly not targeted at gamers, so the integrated graphics isn't a problem when you consider the notebooks position in the market.

We tested the performance of the VGN-N27GH by encoding 53 minutes of WAV files to MP3 at 192Kbps. The VAIO took 3min 03sec to perform this task, which suggests speed isn't the strong suit of this machine. The N27GH is fine for everyday use, such as basic Internet browsing and word processing, but more taxing tasks such as using PhotoShop, or encoding music will be sluggish.

We were very pleased to report that the N27GH is very quiet and didn't get overly hot either, so this means it is excellent for long periods of use. Slight fan noise was only audible during heavy load times and even so, this was barely noticeable. Unfortunately battery life was below average, with the VAIO only lasting 1hour 17min during our DVD rundown test (playing a DVD using the WinDVD for VAIO software). Those looking to watch movies on the road will be disappointed with this figure, so they would be advised to look elsewhere, although do keep in mind you can increase battery life by adjusting the power settings in the Windows Vista control panel.

Aesthetically, the unit is quite standard for a basic, all-purpose notebook. The N27GH measures 364mm x 264.5mm x 29mm and weighs 2.95kg, including the supplied battery. The main difference is in styling, with the N27GH looking a lot like an Apple MacBook thanks to a light grey and white finish. The top of the clamshell is all white, emblazoned with a large VAIO logo, while the interior is a light grey plastic, with a white keyboard. The keyboard is both responsive and comfortable, and there is a standard two button touchpad with that we found easy to use. The touchpad buttons were easy to press and fine to use with both hands. Underneath the front of the VAIO are two speakers, but they aren't very loud or clear. Users wanting to watch DVD movies would be best advised to purchase a decent set of speakers to obtain better sound quality or use headphones. Mute and volume buttons are located as function keys using the Fn button, on the "F" keys.

The N27GH comes standard with Windows Vista Home Basic Edition and also includes Adobe Premiere Elements software for creating and editing videos. Bundled Sony applications include DVgate Plus 2.3, VAIO Video & Photo Utility 1.0, Click to DVD 2.6, SonicStage CP 4.2 and WinDVD for VAIO 8.0. Sony also offers 12 months of free technical support during business hours.

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