Sony VAIO VGN-NW15G notebook
An affordable Sony VAIO laptop that's well built and looks good
- Comfortable keyboard, allows you to browse the Web without loading Windows, video editing software included
- Screen has poor vertical viewing angles, touchpad has uncomfortable bumps
Sony's VAIO VGN-NW15G notebook looks good and is comfortable to use for the most part. It has specifications powerful enough for image and video editing, and it is a great mid-sized laptop for users who want something that's stylish yet functional and affordable.
Price$ 1,349.00 (AUD)
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There aren't any keys in odd spots, which is good news for touch typists. There is also plenty of room on the palm rest, and it doesn't get too warm after the laptop has been running for a few hours. Likewise, the bottom of the laptop gets slightly warm, and while you'll definitely feel it after a long period of use on your lap, it probably won't be too uncomfortable. The touchpad is something you'll either love or hate. It's a textured pad that can feel a little rough and sticky when you run your finger across it.
The touchpad is textured, and this can feel quite annoying against your finger.
The first time we used it, we hated it. The many times we used it after that, we still hated it. We'd prefer a smooth pad rather than a textured one any day of the week, and especially Mondays. One of the selling points of the VAIO VGN-NW15G is its "One-touch Web" access. This refers to a version of the Splashtop interface that has been implemented at the chip level to allow you to access the Internet without loading Windows Vista. If the laptop is turned off, simply press the WEB button to switch it on and launch the Splashtop interface. It takes 19 seconds to load.
The WEB button can be used to launch the built-in Splashtop interface, or it can launch a Web browser while you are in Windows.
The interface that Sony has implemented is limited only to browsing the Web — you won't get Skype or instant messaging applications (unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad S10e netbook, for example). You need to set up your network connection the first time you use the One-Touch Web access, and this can be done by clicking on the Wireless icon in the bottom-right corner, clicking on WiFi, finding the name of your wireless network and entering its security details (it supports encryption up to WPA2-PSK). Annoyingly, you can't double-click on the touchpad and drag in order to scroll Web pages while in Splashtop. You have to press the left-click button and then drag.
The first time you use Splashtop at home or at work, you have to set up your wireless network.
With a 15.5in widescreen (and a resolution of 1366x768), the VAIO VGN-NW15G is quite big, but it will fit into a modest-sized backpack, and it's not a heavy unit. It weighs only 2.55kg. If you plan on using it outdoors or at a cafe and away from an outlet, you'll get good battery life out of it. It lasted 2hr 21min in our video rundown test, in which we loop videos while the laptop is at maximum power with the screen brightness all the way up and the wireless radio enabled.
You will be able to get more out of it (say 30-40min more) when you implement a sensible power-saving plan. We don't particularly like the screen. It has plenty of brightness, but its vertical viewing angles are narrow. You end up having to adjust the screen almost every time you move your head or slightly change position. Nevertheless, this won't be too bothersome when you're just typing but will get on your nerves when watching movies and viewing photos.
It's safe to say that if you've always wanted a good-looking Sony VAIO notebook, but always balked at the price, that the VGN-NW15G is a good model to consider. It has three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, an ExpressCard/34 slot for expansion, HMDI, D-Sub, a 56Kbps modem, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, a webcam and 802.11n wireless networking (using an Atheros AR928X chip). The One-touch Web access button is a nice touch, as is the "Display Off" button, which lets you switch off the screen when all you want to do is use the laptop to listen to some music (its speakers are adequate for personal listening).
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