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My dad was looking for a new laptop as he had just changed his job and his old laptop was a company laptop. The old laptop was a Dell so at first he looked at Dell laptops as he hadn't had any problems with his old laptop and thought it would be a good idea to stick with them because he trusted their name. He then saw an article in one of his pc magazines on Sony VAIO laptops. He looked into this further, liked the specs of the laptops and their prices for what you get and decided that was the type of laptop he wanted to get.
Sony's range of laptops goes under the name of VAIO. There are 8 different series of laptops each with their own specialities as such. They are: AR Series, C Series, BX Series, G Series, N Series, UX Series, SZ Series and the TX Series. These range from laptops for big business men down to laptops for a student going through university or college.
This following section will just give descriptions on each of the series so feel free to just skip ahead to the review on the actual laptop.
The AR series is aimed at people who want a big screen to show lots of work for instance. These laptops have 17" screens so they are pretty big laptops. It makes full potential of HD technology with both Blu-Ray and HD DVD. They have built in cameras and microphones good for video conferencing or just as a web cam. It has a hybrid TV tuner so you can sit and watch TV on your laptop. It comes with Windows Media Centre which is always very handy to have if you like all your multimedia things. The base model comes with 200GB of space so there is no shortage of space either. They come with dual core processors so there is no shortage of speed either. So if you want a laptop that is good for watching films, listening to music, doing multimedia tasks or even playing games then maybe you should consider this laptop.
I think that these laptops are aimed at your younger users that want style mixed with speed. You can get them in 5 colours: - Nomad grey. For the tough but sensitive types. Sleek, yet solid. The world is your playground. In storm grey with flashes of hot copper. - Natura green. Designed to bring the great outdoors in. Turn over a new leaf. In dew green with a splash of pale emerald. - Free spirit pink. Be free and live a life where sometimes no plan is the best plan. Carpe diem rules. In cool sorbet with pops of deco pink. - Karma white. For when you want a unit that is subtle and serene, even when it's hard at work. Discover your own Zen. In calming silver-white with natural tones. - Timeless black. There's nothing like a perfect fit. Work or play, the choice is yours. In café noir with a hint of deepest claret. These descriptions are taken off of Sony's own website so don't blame me for these "interesting" descriptions. The main selling point of these laptops is that you can get them in different colours but I can't see anything really special about them apart from that.
These are definitely aimed at business users that want security on their laptop. With fingerprint recognition built in as standard they are definitely well protected because it is practically impossible to "forge" some ones fingerprint unless you work for the secret service (well I'm sure James Bond could do it). They also come with Hard Disk password protection which also helps to protect your data. These laptops come in three different display sizes, 14", 17" and 15.4". So it works for you if you want a small laptop with protection, a big laptop with protect or to sit in the middle.
This is aimed at those who want mobility and security, so once again for your business user. The casing for the laptop is made of carbon fibre making it strong and light at the same time but this does add on to the cost of the actual laptop. The weight of the laptops comes in at 1.13 Kg which is very, very light for a laptop so great if you are caring it around with you a lot. Another great point for this series of laptops is that they come with the latest Intel Ultra-Low Voltage processors meaning that in Stamina mode you can have a laptop running for an unthinkable 9 hours! Once again it has fingerprint recognition which seems to come on a lot of the VAIO laptops. It also has the password protection features like the previous series. So this is great if you are caring your laptop around with you a lot of the time and need it to have a long lasting battery life.
This series of laptops, in my view, are the most stylish. This is probably due to it being able to come in a bright white colour so it stands out among the rest (apart from the C series because it comes in a rainbow of colours). It is sort
of the middle market laptop with the good technology but nothing too fancy and not for an exceptionally high price. I actually think this is the cheapest in the Sony VIAO laptop series. So this is a simple laptop, nothing too confusing and stylish too.
Now I know this isn't really a laptop but it is still in the VIAO series so I thought I would put a wee bit in about it as well. It is actually small enough to fit in your pocket which is great but I am not sure it is what I would actually like to have. It weighs only 486 grams making it very light. This doesn't make it a lightweight performer though it comes with a pretty powerful processor so it isn't let down by that. It has two digital cameras (don't ask why I think it's just so it sounds cooler), it can play music and videos and this all makes it pretty good but personally I don't actually like it that much. It is a good idea but it isn't what I would want.
This is the series that my dad got his laptop from. I think it was because it was light, secure and powerful but from my point of view it is a bit expensive. The body is made from carbon fibre making it light and strong, it has finger print recognition which until my dad got this laptop and I looked at the VAIO series, I didn't know it was so popular but I guess it is. I won't go into too much detail on this laptop though because I will go into more detail soon.
Now this is the last in the VAIO Series (Finally. This has taken much longer than I thought). Once again they come with the carbon fibre casing and the fingerprint recognition, so it has the little things that you can make your friends feel jealous because of. It has an 11.1" screen making it very small and easy to carry with you. Like some of the other laptops it comes with the ultra-low voltage Intel Core Solo processor so it doesn't drink your battery dry quickly and it can pack a punch as well.
Now that is over with I can get onto the actually review of the laptop. I am sorry if you got bored during that but I thought it was worth mentioning those to give you an idea of what the VAIO series of laptops have to offer.
<< Sony VAIO SZ4XWN/C >>
This is the middle model of the SZ series of laptops making it the 2nd most expensive. On the SONY site the price posted is £ 1,531.06 without VAT. I am not 100% sure what my dad paid for his but I am sure it was not far off of that. Personally I think that is too much for a laptop but if I had that kind of money I would probably just get the best I could get. I am also slightly angry at my dad because now he has the most powerful computer in the house but I'll get a better computer soon I have been saving up for a while.
It comes with lots of different technological gadgets like the fingerprint recognition that work with the just the swipe of a finger but I think I have mentioned that one enough times throughout this. It has the carbon fibre casing that is 200% stronger and 30% lighter than conventional materials. It has what is called fluid ergonomics which basically means it is designed to be used with ease and everything being placed in the best place making it easy to use from any position. It has what is called hard disk drop protection that means that the computer will freeze itself if it senses that it has been dropped but I wouldn't advice testing this to the max.
OS (Operating System)
It comes with a genuine version of Windows Vista Business. This version of Windows Vista is designed especially to meet the needs of a small business. It has better security than on old versions of windows and I know from experience that on Windows XP it is very easy to get past the password protection and I am sure that it is the same with other versions of Windows but with Windows Vista is better. I don't know too much about how well Vista works because I have only had a few shots with Vista and I am keen to give it a good go and I am sure it will live up to my expectations. Microsoft so it is more stable, faster and more secure than older versions and my dad says that it lives up to all three of these. Windows Vista is better but if you are planning on just upgrading a computer from an older version just hang on for a while, while every one catches up and programs are fully compatible and you wont have problems with it.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
This is what runs the computer. It is the heart of the system and without it you have nothing. This laptop comes with the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7200 which is a 2 GHz processor. It has 2 cores but that does not mean it is twice as powerful as a single core processor of the same speed and it also runs as if there are two processors making it very good for multi-tasking. It does run quite a lot faster than a single core processor of the same speed. It isn't the newest of technology though because as far as I know quad core processors have just started to be used in the fastest desktop computers and the same will be happening to laptops in the near future. The CPU in this can pack a punch and is pretty powerful for a laptop and it makes it faster and more powerful than my Dell with a single core 3 GHz processor.
Memory/RAM (Random Access Memory)
This is what all your programs need to run. They take up space for all the permanent files on you hard-drive but they also need to access other memory to run the program. You can use some of your Hard-Drive to do this but you always need RAM and using RAM is a lot better. This laptop has 2048 MB (2GB) of RAM in it and this is the Max it can take and it is more than most users will need anyway. This is put into the computer as two 1 GB chips of RAM. The type of RAM is DDR2 SDRAM and this runs at 533 MHz (Mega Hertz) This amount of RAM with the processor makes for a pretty powerful machine great for multi-tasking, for watching films and could easily play some of the latest games.
This is where all your files are stored and on a laptop it can be some trouble upgrading the Hard-Drive so it is best to get all the space you will need. If you find that there isn't enough space you can store files on CD's, DVD's or the new HD-DVD's and Blu-Ray disks or just get yourself an external Hard-Drive. This laptop comes with a 120 GB hard-drive. This is more than enough for most people but if you plan on keeping lots of films or playing lots of games it might be worth investing in an external hard-drive to store more on. The drive speed is 5400 RPM and it is a SATA (Serial ATA) drive. This is what you will usually get so nothing fancy in there and the speed isn't really that important unless you really need to access it quickly.
This is your CD/DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-Ray drive. Most drives don't take the newer formats of disks because it can cost quite a lot to get that type of technology installed and to be honest I don't think it is worth it quite yet. This laptop doesn't have that compatibility you could probably get hold of an external one if you really needed one but it would really burn a hole in you pocket. The optical drive in this laptop takes all formats of DVD's and CD's so no need to worry about compatibility there either. You can also burn CD's and DVD's with this computer which is always handy.
This is just a list of the read and write speeds of the drive in this laptop. The complicated way to explain this is to say that the first CD drive read a 150 Kbps (kilobits per second) and this is X so 2X is 2 times as fast (300 kbps) as just X, 3X is 3 times as fast (450 kbps) and so on. This is in bits though and nowadays we work in bytes, there are 8 bits in a byte so this means that to find out how long it should take to burn a full CD (700 megabytes) you find out how many kilobits you have (1024 KB = 1MB) and then diving it by your speed and that is how long in seconds you should be able to write at. Just remember though that you usually won't run at the maximum speed that is possible. I'm sorry if I lost you completely there but to put it simply, the bigger the number the faster it is.
CD Write: CD-R x24, CD-RW x16 Read: CD x24, CD-R x24, CD-RW x24
Those speeds aren't exceptionally fast but they will be good enough for your average user but like I said with the hard-drive you can get an external optical drive with faster speeds.
This is where you see what you are doing (pretty obvious though isn't it). This laptop has a 13.3" LCD screen with LED technology. I am not too sure what the LED technology does but I can tell you the screen is very good. The LCD screen is an X-black screen which is something that Sony has added in and do you know what? It really works. I could tell the difference from my LCD screen straight away. The screen is much clearer. It will probably surprise you because I thought it was just something simple with a name put on it to make more money but I was wrong.
This is what is used for graphical tasks such as playing games and watching films. This laptop is supplied with a stand alone graphics card which is soo much better than an integrated one. The graphics card is the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 which has 335 MB of total available graphics memory. The more Memory the faster it should be able to go but there are other factors that go into this like how is processes and so on but it get
Pictures of Sony VAIO SZ Series VGN-SZ4XWN/C
very complicated. I can tell you that it is very good though. If you want to know more about the graphics card then check out the GeForce website, it is quite interesting to read about it and all the different features of it and how it works.
It can connect to other peripherals, memory cards and so on in quite a few ways. It has 2 USB ports which I don't think is enough because those could be taken up by a travel mouse and then a USB flash drive and then you have no space left for anything else. You can get USB devices that turn 1 port into four but these can be quite messy and to be honest I would rather there were just 4 built in as standard. It has a memory stick slot which can take Sony's Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Pro Duo. This is handy as these cards are used in Sony phones and the Sony PSP but I would rather it has an SD card reader built in because SD cards are used more widely. There is an external Memory Card Reader supplied though. It is compatible with Memory Stick Standard Size, Memory Stick PRO, high speed data transfer and Magicgate compatible, MultiMedia Cards (MMC), SD Cards and XD Cards. This is good but it means an extra thing to carry about with you which isn't great but there is only so much you can put on the sides and back of a laptop. It has all the basic audio outputs and inputs so nothing fancy there. It has built in Bluetooth which is good if you want to connect your phone up to your computer but I found with my phone it took forever to set it up but my phone is a pretty old model and it worked just fine with both my parent's phones. It also has built in LAN which comes as standard on all laptops now anyway but it is always good to mention it.
BUILT IN CAMERA
The laptop has a built in camera which is quite a nice wee toy. It can be used for video conferencing along with the built in microphone which is handy if you use that sort of thing but it also works as just a webcam or for taking stills with but it is only a 0.3 megapixel camera so you don't get very good quality but what do you really expect with one built in to a laptop.
The laptop has a few other features that I have already mentioned like the fingerprint recognition system (that's the last time I'll mention it I promise). It has a Stamina feature meaning that the battery will last for longer and I think it is up to almost 6 hours battery life which is very good. It has the safety feature of the Hard Drive protection as well.
It comes with quite a few pieces of good software for various uses. If you want to read into the software more then I am sure there is more information on the manufacturer's website.
Audio: SonicStageCP 4.2, SonicStage Mastering Studio 2.3 Video & TV DVgate Plus 2.3, WinDVD 8.0 for VAIO Photo: Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 5.0 CD-DVD Burning: Easy Media creator 9, Click to DVD® 2.6 Office Application: Adobe® Acrobat® Standard 8.0, Adobe® Reader® 8.0, Microsoft® Works 8.5, Microsoft® Office 2003 SBE (Try & Buy) Security & Other: Norton Internet Security 2007(with 90 days free virus update), VAIO Recovery Utility 2.6 - HDD recovery (hidden partition), Protector Suite QL 5, Infineon TPM Professional Package, WebEx
It comes with everything you need like the AC adapter, the battery and the power cord. I have also forgotten to mention the dimensions of it so here they are Depth, Main Unit (mm) 234.3 Height, Main Unit(min - max in mm) 21.8 32.6 Width, Main Unit (mm) 315.0. The laptop with batter comes to 1.69 Kg which is light for a laptop and good for taking about with you. It doesn't come with a case for taking it around with you but there are some on the Sony site to have a look at and maybe you will find one there that suits you but you should definitely get one to keep it safe. Batter Life times Normal Usage: 200 minutes Stamina Mode: 270 minutes Charge Time: 190 minutes Those are pretty long times and over 3 hours for normal usage it pretty good for a laptop but the charge time is pretty long but if you just charge it every night or work with it plugged into the mains it shouldn't be a problem.
This laptop is very good; it is powerful, light, has lots of features, is secure and is a stylish laptop. It lives up to expectations and does what it needs to. It has the toys to play with and is lots of fun. If it has everything you are looking for then get it because you will definitely not regret it. I think that's about all I can say about it and I hope I have explained it in lots of detail and feel free to ask questions about it and leave comments on this review.
Thanks for reading.
Just a quick update to the review. The website address is: http://vaio.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProductCategory.action?site=voe_en_GB_ cons&category=VN+SZ+Series
I have also added pictures as a little extra for those who may like to see more of the VAIO.
And the full price of the laptop varies depending from where you get it and the lowest I have found is £1,495 and the highest I have found is £1,680.
Well researched, told me all I want to know, thanks.
scream4bruce 20.05.2007 00:58
Sorry for the lower rating, but I found the information - like the lowdown on the Sony Vaio series - to be unnecessary. There was not an awful lot of opinion/experience/analysis here with the review reading like a buyer's guide, and there is also the odd inaccuracy.