Sony VAIO SZ4XWN/C review

Price when reviewed

Once again, Sony struts away with the catwalk prize for its new VAIO VGN-SZ4. It’s stunningly light for its size at 1.7kg, which means it doesn’t feel cumbersome to carry despite the 13.3in screen, which is simply superb, with unmatched brightness and a vivid clarity that can only be produced by the X-black glossy display.

Sony VAIO SZ4XWN/C review

The brushed aluminium finish oozes quality and the lid feels strong despite its thinness. Plus, the chassis has plenty of features to add value: we like the stamina/speed switch that controls the CPU speed and disables Nvidia graphics, and the fingerprint reader and TPM chip work with the hard disk shock protection for a high level of data security.

But Sony raises the bar even higher by including an HSDPA ExpressCard, allowing you to access high-speed 3.5G data services on the move. It comes with a T-Mobile SIM card and a 30-day trial, but you’re free to switch to a different provider after that. Other communications are handled by the 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, while Sony also supplies a second ExpressCard adapter to add support for SD/MMC and xD-Picture cards to the standard Memory Stick variants.

There’s also a decent amount of power under the hood, as the SZ4 is built around a 2GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 and 2GB of RAM. It scored 0.96 overall in our 2D application benchmarks, but it leaps to the fore alongside the Asus thanks to the GeForce Go 7400. It won’t see you playing the latest games – it could manage only 16fps in Call of Duty 2 at our low-quality settings – but it certainly beats integrated graphics.

Unfortunately for Sony, our admiration for this VAIO stops short of an award for two reasons. The first is the battery: 4hrs 56mins is adequate in light use, but is way off Samsung’s 6hrs 40mins. The second is the £1,272 price. It’s somewhat justified by the superb construction, but is £395 higher than the Samsung (which has a bigger hard disk). With Sony’s one-year warranty, the SZ4 is only for those with an unlimited budget.

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