Sony VAIO VGN-SZ2XP review

£1226
Price when reviewed

The VGN-SZ2XP is a slightly larger notebook than the rest this month, with a 13.3in screen squeezed into a chassis just 9mm wider than the Hi-Grade, yet it weighs a mere 1.7kg. This is lighter than four of the physically smaller models, and is hardly thicker than the rest at 37mm. This is thanks to the super-thin lid; it keeps the weight down, but won’t protect the screen from hard knocks as well as the Lenovo’s.

Sony VAIO VGN-SZ2XP review

The SZ2XP excels in other areas, though, from the brightness and clarity of the 1,280 x 800 TFT to the comfortable keyboard that fills the entire width of the chassis. It also boasts two GPUs: a GeForce Go 7400 and an Intel GMA 950. The former managed 26fps in Far Cry at native resolution, albeit without AA or AF.

The fine features continue with a fingerprint reader and TPM adding an extra layer of security. A camera sits above the screen but at 0.37 megapixels the quality is ordinary.

Like the VAIO VGN-SZIVP, there’s a switch beneath the screen to flip between “stamina” and “speed” modes: the former mode switches off the 7400 and uses the 950. Battery life in stamina mode is decent, at 5hrs 26mins of light use. However, this fell to just 1hr 32mins when worked hard.

But with a Core Duo T2500 and 1GB of RAM, it stormed our 2D benchmarks with a score of 1.10. The 100GB hard disk comes with Photoshop Elements 4 and several other applications installed, and a fairly slow DVD writer adds more options. Also on the chassis you’ll find an ExpressCard/54 slot for expansion cards, and there’s Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g support as well.

With the only 2GHz Core Duo processor on show, the Sony is undoubtedly the fastest of this month’s notebooks. Of course, if you don’t need all this power, the SZ2XP is overkill, and at this price it’s only worth considering if you run particularly intensive applications. For everyone else, the longer-lasting (and cheaper) Lenovo is a better deal, especially since the VAIO comes with a measly one-year return-to-base warranty.

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