Sony VAIO VGN-BX51XP review

£700
Price when reviewed
Apart from the chrome-effect VAIO logo, the VGN-BX51XP is a plain-looking laptop, and at nearly 3kg it isn’t one you’d want to carry about too often. Despite its weight, the Sony isn’t as well built as the likes of the Acer. The construction feels plasticky and hollow by comparison and, although the lid does a good job of protecting the display from impacts, twisting it from side to side caused the displayed image to distort.

Despite the dubious decision to use a glossy 15.4in display, it’s an excellent example of the benefits of coating. It makes the most of the 1,280 x 800 resolution with incredible brightness and strikingly vibrant colours. There’s a slight red colour cast, but that’s a minor issue.

Thankfully, the keyboard and trackpad aren’t affected by the plasticky build, and are both comfortable in use. The full-sized keys have plenty of travel, and a crisp, positive action that helps make light of long stretches of typing. A dainty, responsive trackpad is partnered with a rough-feeling textured trackpoint, which is easy to use.

There are no complaints with the core spec, and with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 and 2GB of memory, the supplied copy of XP Professional flew along. A result of 1.13 in our benchmarks sits the Sony in the middle of the pack, but it’s far from underpowered.

Given the tight budget, you’d forgive the Sony for lacking certain features, but it’s got the main bases covered. Gigabit ethernet is present, and the fingerprint reader and TPM 1.2 chip help keep data away from prying eyes. A hard disk shock sensor also helps to keep your data intact should you need to work during a bumpy commute.

Ultimately, though, battery life is where the Sony falls down. Just over three hours under light use isn’t very impressive, and when you consider that it will take three hours to charge it back up again, we’d think twice before moving too far away from a mains socket.

Sony’s VGN-BX51XP is a decent no-frills business laptop, but without excelling in any area it just doesn’t do enough to earn a recommendation.

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