Pros Duo Processor, Full Size Keyboard, Light, great display
Cons Loaded with unwanted software and trial ware
Summary For me, cost was not a factor. I wanted a cool laptop that did everything without compromise, at least 13 inch widescreen, glossy coating, long battery life, fast, large drive, lightweight. This laptop does it all in a very light 3.7 lb. package. The screen is excellent, all connectivity options, a very cool and so far perfectly working fingerprint reader that also allows you to register web pages requiring passwords so that you can just swipe your finger and the passwords are entered automatically. Fullsize keyboard, although the travel is a little long and soft for me. Connectivity is a snap. Plus, its got a built-in low res videocamera and mic for perfect for streaming video over an instant messenger. The speakers are OK (little tinny things, but better than most) and a 100 gig 5400 rpm hardrive (most are 4000 rpm). This model is carbon fiber and comes with 1 gig of DDR memory. Great battery life and switchable graphics chip from an onboard Intel to an NVidia GeForce chip for more intensive graphics work or when using AC power. The touch pad works great. In short, this laptop does it all, very well.
The only drawback is that Sony includes a bunch of software and trialware that I would prefer not to have on there. I had originally planned to wipe the drive and install my own software, but I understand that there is a partition where Sony stores all the stuff for a default setting restore,and it is problematic to wipe the drive an get everything running again. I did not want to screw with it, and just uninstalled most of the stuff I didn't want. Also, there are no backup CD's for anything and no documentation included with the laptop. Everything is apparently online. Highly recommend this laptop if you can find one. I got mine from Datavision, $110 less than list!
Pros Light weight, Intel Core Duo processor, full feature set, big hard drive
Cons sony software bundle, a little pricey, docking station
Summary I purchased the SZ280P/C and have been using it for almost three weeks. I looked at the Lenovo Thinkpads, Panasonic, Dell and even the Apple Macbook running Bootcamp (for windows support). I decided on the Sony because of the Intel Core Duo processor, battery life (about 4 hours), lightweight form factor, the flexibility of the integrated graphics processor and the Nvida processor for more demanding applications, large hard drive space and the durability of the carbon fiber chassis. Also, the Sony has many of the ports and integrated optical drive that the Lenovos do not include. I believe the express card slot will be utilized in the very near future. I highly suggest going with the upgraded chassis (all model numbers will end in p/c) because the laptop is a little lighter and seems more durable than the standard chassis. I have not had any problems with the keyboard or space bar. I am not sure if it was a problem and now it is corrected. The fingerprint scanner is great! I was reluctant to use it based on what other posts have said about it not being reliable but it is truly awesome. It saves time for logging in and has a nice feature about remembering all of your passwords on website login pages. Very nice! What i found is that if your finger is dry, you slightly wet your finger with your tongue, it works 98% of the time (i know it sounds weird but biting your nails is slightly grosser). With all of these features and the performance of the machine, it was a clear winner above the others.
Now for some negatives (if they are negative). The Sony bundle of software sucks. I would suggest very carefully removing a lot of the included software. If you are not good with computers, find someone who is and they can easily remove all of the demo software. Also, beware that the Norton virus software will need some adjustment for networking this computer with others. I have also heard that the docking station is not as good as the Lenovo (i am not docking it so it is not a problem) but I can not see what the docking station can possibly lack. The integrated camera is not great but for video conferencing and chatting it gets the job done.
Hope this helps your decision.
Pros Awesome screen. Very lightweight, Powerful processor options, docking ability, security features, attractive case design
Cons Very Expensive,
Summary As a previous owner of a Sony VAIO VGN-A190 (17", M1.7Ghz, multimedia powerhouse) I had no fear in purchasing another laptop from Sony.
My needs for a new laptop were simple. Light enough that I carry it around in my arms, powerful enough for software development, large hard drive capacity for my multimedia needs, and a bright screen that could be used outside on sunny days. This Sony VAIO SZ-160 fit the description perfectly.
Some of the features of this laptop that I also like include the biometric fingerprint sensor. It works like a password manager for Windows and application authentication.
The hybrid video system is ideal. When I am on the road, I need the most battery life possible which is great with the integrated video. But ocassionally I like to play a 3D game or two, and I can switch over to the GeForce 7400 and get that done. It is great to have that option.
The built in web camera and mic, which work quite well, and are artfully intergated into the monitor bezel.
Some notes on why I picked the premium SZ-160 model.
There are quite a few options in the SZ line that I went through before decideding on the SZ-160. All the models with lower model numbers SZ-110 through SZ-150 are the non premium version of the laptop. These are quite good for less money than the 160. Models 160 and higher are considered premimum. With the premium laptops you get a 0.4lbs lighter notebook, a thinner profile (by about 0.2"), the dark bezel around the keyboard (which I find much more attractive), and slightly longer batter life. Also, the default processor, hard drive, and installed RAM options can be higher.
The Sony Learning Center website has more info on the differences between the SZ models.
Pros Size, performance, cool temp, BELLS AND WHISTLES!
Cons price, no s-video, no media buttons
Summary I actually have the Vaio SZ-140P/B, which is basically the same machine, but without the carbon fiber construction. It is thus a little heavier 4.1 instead of 3.7 lbs. Since this just came out recently, I've only had it about a week. That being said, this thing is great so far.
Solid build, even for the non carbon-fiber model. Battery moves around slightly, but nothing significant. Keyboard is solid, good size for this small of a computer, and has a good click. Very light compared to my old 6.something pound notebook. Screen is crystal clear. The speakers are speakers. Not much else to say there. The headphone jack is on the side near the back which is great because its easy to get to, while still being out of the way while hooked up to external speakers. Same with USB ports. Very well thought out.
So far this runs very smoothly. Have'nt run the battery completely out, but when switching from "speed" mode to "stamina" mode, battery indicated a jump form about 2 hours to 5 hours (with wifi on). The temperature is amazingly cool. My old notebook got uncomfortably hot, not so here. Fan can get noticeable at times in "speed" mode, but what computer doesn't? Biometrics and webcam work like a charm with a little getting used to. I don't have benchmarks or anything but its at least as fast if not faster than my old 2.0 GHz P4 with 1/3 of the power consumption. Graphics card gave no problems at 1024xwhatever res.
The only thing keeping it from a 10 is the test of time, the price, the lack of an s-video out, and no media buttons. Fortunately I was able to get it pretty cheaply because I had a Best Buy service plan and my old laptop broke. So it was kinda like free money to put towards it. I am very pleased with my first Vaio so far.
Pros Ultraportable, good processing power and speed, sharp display, good looking, decent battery life
Cons Plasticy keyboard, No recovery Disk, Hell lot of preloaded software making it slower to start
Summary After having a bad experience with MacBook (Returned that back last week, windows keep crashing, heat problem, too heavy etc.). I finally decide for Sony VAIO SZ notebook. I got this brand new notebook (Sony VAIO VGN - SZ260P) from SonyStyle store in University Village Mall, Seattle. Its quite nice and good looking notebook. It feather light as compared to MacBook. I really love it. Display is crystal clear, comparable to MacBook. Keyboard is well designed and keys are well placed. On MacBook, if you are a Windows user then you may miss a lot of important keys - DEL key, which is a must to login - "Press CTRL-ALT-DEL to login" though there are workarounds like key remapping etc. Home, Pageup, PageDown and End keys are quite useful while doing some editing work. These keys are well placed on Sony VAIO SZ.
Typing on MacBook was more pleasent, on VAIO SZ keys are a bit noisy and feel plasticiy. Though its ok. The main difference is the battery. MacBook has a really poor battery, just 2.5 to 3 Hrs. On VAIO its showing me more than 5 Hrs at 95% (in Stamina mode), that's really awesome.
O'kay now the bad things (or the things i didnt liked about it) - No recovery disks in the box. I've to burn two DVDs myself. It has a lot of software pre-installed, which makes it slow on startup. Many trial version software like AOL, Office 2003 etc. There was a problem which I faced - I joined this machine to DOMAIN (in coporate network) after reboot, first time it logged in, second time it stuck up at "Applying Computer settings..." 20 minutes nothing happened, Rebooted in safe mode, it worked! Try to restore system using Restore System. But that even didn't helped. Decided to recovere C: Restored system to factory defaults (it formats c. Again joined the system to DOMAIN and uninstalled AOL and rebooted. and system again stuck up at "Applying comuter settings..." no login screen appear. Finally I've to call up the Sony Customer Care. After 15 minutes of conversation he suggested me to do F8 on startup and choose "Last known Good Configuration" and thank God, system started normally after that.
Sony has created a hidden recovery drive and there is no Windows XP CD to install OS and essential device drivers only. When you do restore system to factory defaults its restores all the funny software with it too. Any there are atleast 12 icons in the sytem tray that loads on startup and makes startup slow. I would have been good if, these extra software has been provided on a separate CD.
Overall, its an awesome machine. Though it comes at a price. But one can easily feel proud to own this state of the art machine. Earlier I was planning to buy VAIO TX because I wanted an ultraportable machine. Now after owing this, I can say, VAIO SZ is the good blend of portability without sacrificing on power. This model sports an Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz processor with 1 Gig RAM which is quite decent for most applicaitons. Though I've not yet installed Visual Studio on it.
The last geeky thing about it - it has G-sensor protection for HDD. When I move it a ballon message on system tray popsup - reporting G-protection system engaged. The operation is quite silent and cool. On the contrary MacBook tend to become quite hot even after 2-3 Hrs. of usage. VAIO SZ is running quite cool, its about 5 Hrs now. And I am able to use it on my lap quite comfortably.