Sony VAIO VGN-NS20E/S review

Price when reviewed

This Sony’s name might not ring any bells, but it’s nonetheless a rather familiar face. It looks, to all intents and purposes, identical to the old NR-series of laptops.

Sony VAIO VGN-NS20E/S review

That’s a shame, because those were never particularly pretty machines. Finished all in silver, the dimpled shell almost looks like machined aluminium from a distance. Get up close, however, and it’s just plain old plastic.

Look past the less-than-stylish exterior, though, and the VGN-NS20E/S has plenty to recommend it. The core specification is beyond reproach. An Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3400 processor, 3GB of memory and a 250GB hard drive are all as good as you can get for the money, and achieved a fine score of 0.95 in our benchmarks.

Only the Intel integrated graphics prove a mite disappointing, juddering through our Crysis test at an unplayable five frames per second.

While gaming might not be on the agenda, the Sony’s display makes a fine job of any image. The 15.4in display opts for the usual 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution, but its quality is beyond reproach. Colours are surprisingly natural for such a budget panel, and good contrast helped it make a fine fist of even the trickiest test photos.

Spend any amount of time with the Sony and its quality soon shines through. The VGN-NS20E/S’s Scrabble-tile keyboard might look strange, but the crisp key action and spacious layout makes for comfortable typing. Better still, it’s matched with a responsive trackpad and buttons that respond with a light click.

The Sony’s great ergonomics and crisp display are enough to win it friends, but battery life isn’t half bad, either. The 4,400mAh cell can’t compete with the Lenovo’s huge battery, but more than four hours of light use is still respectable.

Factor in the addition of Gigabit Ethernet and draft-n wireless, and the Sony does more than enough to justify its price. Its plasticky looks may be a stumbling block, but what lurks underneath is a fine budget laptop.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions380 x 360 x 38mm (WDH)
Travelling weight3.2kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Pentium Dual-Core T3400
Motherboard chipsetIntel GL40
RAM capacity3.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size15.4in
Resolution screen horizontal1,280
Resolution screen vertical800
Resolution1280 x 800
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 4500
Graphics card RAM128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskToshiba MK2552GSX
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveMatshita UJ870BJ
Battery capacity4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchyes
Wireless key-combination switchno
ExpressCard34 slots1
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationAbove keyboard
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use4hr 18min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 16min
Overall application benchmark score0.95
3D performance (crysis) low settings5fps
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
OS familyWindows Vista
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedRoxio Easy Media Creator 9

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