Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN

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Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN
  • Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN
  • Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN
  • Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN

Pros

  • Stylish design, minuscule size and weight, good battery life, well built

Cons

  • Not very powerful, limited specifications

Bottom Line

The VAIO TZ17GN is an ideal ultraportable thanks to a compact, lightweight frame, good battery life and solid, if not outstanding performance. A stylish design sweetens the deal.

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The Sony VAIO VGN-TZ17GN is an ultraportable notebook that features a stylish design, excellent battery life and a weight of just 1.2kg. The TZ17 is ideal for mobile professionals who require a decent level of performance while on the road.

The VGN-TZ17GN has a tiny 11.1in screen with a 1366x768 resolution and weighs in at just 1.2kg. It has an excellent viewing angle, is bright and clear and offers reasonable colour - so it's fine to watch a DVD movie on. The screen is glossy though, so if you're working in an office environment, fluorescent lights reflecting off the display can become annoying.

At the heart of this notebook is an Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 CPU running at 1.2GHz, 1GB of DDR2 RAM (upgradeable to 2GB) and a 100GB hard drive. Despite the small size, Sony conveniently manages to squeeze in a DVD-RW/RAM drive. Overall, these specifications aren't outstanding, but suit the target market of this notebook; an ideal solution for frequent travellers who would only be e-mailing, browsing the Internet and editing Office documents.

We encoded 53 minutes of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files to test the system's performance. The encoding time of 3min 30sec is fairly slow, although somewhat expected considering the specifications. As it's aimed at business users, a biometric fingerprint scanner allows the system to be locked and adds security to the Windows Vista log-in process, as well as many applications. A VGA port is also available to output presentations to a larger screen or projector.

The VAIO hasn't been designed for extensive graphics use, so it's no surprise to see it only uses an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950. This scored a low, but completely expected 2454 in our 3DMark2001 benchmark. Multimedia is notable though, with a media card reader supporting MagicGate, MS/MS-Pro and SD cards, a fingerprint reader sitting neatly between the mouse buttons and a set of media controls residing on the front edge of the chassis. There's also a VGA MotionEye camera built into the top of the display, and headphone and microphone jacks on the front.

For connectivity, a pair of USB 2.0 ports joins an Express Card slot, one gigabit Ethernet port and a 56Kbps modem port, in addition to a FireWire 400 port. Built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 are also offered.

Aesthetically, the VAIO is extremely stylish. It is finished in 'Sanity Black' and the flat, black matte scissor keys on a glossy base is a nice touch. The cover has a silver VAIO logo etched into the top, while the cylindrical design is practical and feels sturdy. Although the VAIO is small, it feels solid enough and isn't fragile. The screen exhibits a little flex, but this is natural as it's very thin.

We tested the battery life by looping a DVD until the notebook has no charge left. The DVD loop test is considered a worst-case scenario, as it utilises the optical drive and speakers, as well as the screen, CPU and other core components. The VAIO lasted 2hrs 42min 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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