Sony VAIO VGN-SZ61WN/C review

£1567
Price when reviewed

Sony’s carbon-fibre ultraportables have traditionally done very well in PC Pro, so we were surprised that Sony chose to send us a 13.3in model weighing 1.8kg. We needn’t have worried, though – it may not be featherweight, but the VGN-SZ61WN/C is up to the usual standards.

It’s arguably the most portable of the group despite its half-kilo disadvantage compared with the Rock, as the battery gave a fantastic 8hrs 26mins in light use. This is impressive when you consider that it isn’t powering a ULV processor but a standard 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500.

Admittedly, that battery life time is with the “stamina” mode selected, which disables the Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS graphics. But as that card won’t exactly set the gaming world alight, we can do without it most of the time.

A score of 1.07 puts it behind only the Toshiba for speed, and you also get 160GB of storage, an HSDPA adapter and the security triumvirate of fingerprint reader, TPM module and hard disk shock protection. Add in Bluetooth, gigabit ethernet and a software bundle that includes Photoshop Elements and you have a superb all-round package.

Our only concern is over the build quality, particularly as the VAIO comes with only a single-year return-to-base warranty. The lid is a little flimsy, and there are areas around the base that feel like they could crack under a bit of pressure – it’s a laptop that will need looking after, and for this reason it doesn’t win an award. But the TFT is the brightest of the group, the styling is fantastic and the speakers are punchy.

The price is high, especially when you consider that the little Samsung costs less than half as much. But for those with the money to spend, the Sony VAIO VGN-SZ61WN/C offers an impressive mixture of power, longevity and features that’s hard to resist.

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