Sony VAIO VGN-SZ48GN/C

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Sony VAIO VGN-SZ48GN/C
  • Sony VAIO VGN-SZ48GN/C
  • Sony VAIO VGN-SZ48GN/C
  • Sony VAIO VGN-SZ48GN/C

Pros

  • Design and build quality, good specifications, solid performance and battery life, reasonable graphics, great keyboard

Cons

  • Screen exhibits plenty of flex, average sound from speakers

Bottom Line

The VAIO is an excellent option for anyone after an ultraportable with good performance, solid battery life and an excellent design.

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The Sony VAIO VGN-SZ48GN/C is an ultra portable notebook with impressive specifications and solid battery life. Including a DVD-RW combo drive, a built-in fingerprint reader and running Windows Vista Business Edition, the SZ48 is ideal for mobile professionals who need a decent level of performance while on the road.

The SZ48 has an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2GHz processor, a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of DDR2 memory (expandable up to 2GB). The VAIO also features built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity. It has plenty of options including two 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 is also a Memory Stick slot, and Sony even includes an adaptor to fit xD, SD and MMC cards.

We encoded 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files to test the system's performance. The encoding time of 2min 27sec, is fairly noteworthy for a notebook this size and indicates that the Core 2 Duo CPU is fine for most processing tasks, but especially quick for basic business use. As a business notebook the VAIO comes with some useful features. A biometric fingerprint scanner allows the system to be locked and adds security to the Windows Vista login process, as well as many applications. A VGA port is available to output presentations to a larger screen or projector, and Sony also continues its use of two programmable 'S' buttons (S1/S2). These can be programmed to switch between external display modes and other presentation-friendly functions, or to open any application.

The VAIO has a 13.3in LCD display with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 800. The screen is quite good for most uses, including watching DVD movies and it has an excellent viewing angle. The display is helped along by an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 graphics card, which scored a reasonable 9854 in our 3DMark2001 benchmark. Naturally, it wasn't quite up to standard when running the more demanding 3DMark2006, scoring just 712. Overall, the VAIO graphics card is reasonable, provided you don't want to play the latest games.

Aesthetically, the VAIO is a sleek and stylish machine. It is finished in 'Carbon Black' and the distinguished aluminium palm rest is a nice touch. The cover has a silver VAIO logo etched into the top. Flipping the lid open reveals a well spaced out keyboard that is comfortable to type on, as well as a touchpad with two buttons. Wedged in between these buttons is a biometric fingerprint reader. Sony includes software on the VAIO to program and customise the way you use the scanner. It can be assigned to a number of programs, and can also be used in tandem with basic Windows Vista functions including logging on or off, waking the computer from sleep mode and switching users. There is also a web cam built into the top of the unit, which is great for video chat or general media tasks.

Above the keyboard is an array of buttons; the two 'S' shortcut keys, switches for wireless and stamina/speed and a power button. Five LED lights notify users of important events including battery life, power, hard drive usage, WLAN and Bluetooth, and there are also well hidden lights for caps lock, num lock and scroll lock. Once again, this VAIO uses a combination of the function key (Fn) and the F keys to quickly adjust settings such as mute, volume up/down and screen brightness.

The VAIO weighs a reasonable 1.69kg (including the battery) and measures 315mm x 234.3mm x 21.8mm. Despite the small and lightweight form factor, the unit is built very well, although the display does exhibit some flex when pushed. Sound quality from the speaker underneath the unit is average, without being outstanding. If you plan to use this for multimedia, we'd suggest some notebook speakers or headphones for better sound quality. We tested the battery life by looping a DVD until the notebook has no charge left. It lasted 1hr 40min before the battery died, which is a strong result. Keep in mind though that all our tests were run using maximum performance battery profiles. Longer battery life can be achieved by selecting a number of other power profiles through Vista's control panel.

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